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Huntington Beach bans beer pong, other alcohol games in downtown bars

January 21, 2010 |  9:14 am

New businesses opening their doors in downtown Huntington Beach can cut beer pong out of their possible entertainment lineups.

The City Council voted Tuesday night to ban alcohol games for new businesses downtown or those renewing their entertainment licenses.

Beer pong has been offered as entertainment at a number of establishments in Surf City, where serious beer pong aficionados tested their accuracy and liquor tolerance in a satellite tournament during the Las Vegas beer pong world championship in 2008.

Beer pong is played by setting up partially filled cups of beer in a triangle on either side of a table. Each player tries to toss a ping pong ball into a cup on the other side, forcing an opposing player to drink it. Teams “lose” when they finish all the beer in their cups.

The ban was inspired by Police Chief Kenneth Small, who wrote to businesses in the fall, asking them to voluntarily stop allowing alcohol games and warning those who continued that they ran the risk of not having their entertainment permits renewed.

“It’s an alcohol game that encourages excessive drinking,” said police Capt. Chuck Thomas. “We did not believe that type of game was in the best interest of the community.”

Councilman Don Hansen, chairman of the Downtown Image Ad Hoc Committee, said the beer pong ban is part of an effort to clean up downtown Huntington Beach’s image, which had earned a reputation for excessive partying. Perhaps more important, he pointed out, was that the closing time for bars would be moved up from 2 a.m. to midnight.

“We had patrons that go to the bar at 2 a.m. spill back out onto the streets and into residential neighborhoods … going to the bathroom right in front of other people’s lawns,” Hansen said.

Some owners of downtown bars and restaurants have shrugged at the new rules.

“Personally, who cares?” said Bernie Bischof, co-owner of Old World German Restaurant, where beer pong has occasionally been played during Oktoberfest festivities. “What they think is best is what we’ll have to go by.”

-- Amina Khan

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