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February 11, 2009

City beer pong ban fizzles

beer pongLet me start by saying I'm so sorry for not posting these past couple days. Regular Midnight Sunners know that I never, never go two weekdays without posting something, unless I'm on vacation.

Since Monday, I've been chasing this story about a state senator who proposed a city-wide ban on drinking games such as beer pong and flip cup. Yesterday, I went to Annapolis, sat through a Senate session and spoke with Sen. George W. Della Jr., who drafted a bill which reads:

"A holder of a retail alcoholic beverages license or owner or operator of a bottle club may not promote, encourage, or allow on the premises a game commonly known as beer pong or any other game or contest that involves drinking alcoholic beverages or the awarding of drinks of alcoholic beverages as prizes." ...

As you can imagine, this set of all kinds of protests from local beer pong players. I spend days talking to legislators, experts, beer pong players -- anybody even remotely involved with this issue. The bill was slated for a hearing tomorrow, and the piece had a chance of going on the front page.

Then I get a voicemail today from Della, who said he decided to withdraw the legislation.

"We're getting inundated with so many e-mails that I don't have the time to fool with it," he said. "I just hope that if people continue doing it, they do it in a way that there's not excessive drinking and disrespect for the surrounding neighborhoods."

The bill, SB 233, never even got to committee. And thus, the short, fiery saga of Baltimore's beer pong ban comes to an end. At least now I'm back on the blog.

Any thoughts you'd like to share about this hot topic?

(AP photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:56 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Phew, glad that's over with. This is, after all, a major metropolitan area, not a freshman dorm room.

No, I'm just glad you're alright. I was ready to call Roommate Patchen and send out a search team.

Come on Senator Della! There are so many more things to worry about that are more important than this. Even if the local neighborhoods are bothered by the bar patrons, beer pong is not the cause of the problem in 95% (or more!) of the cases. Enforcement of the laws that are already on the books is what is needed, not making more laws. You can't legislate away problems.

I think a lot of people would applaud this decision to drop the bill... if they didn't have a ping pong ball in one hand and a beer in the other.

The best point I heard about this was that getting excessively drunk and being disorderly is ALREADY ILLEGAL. There is no reason to legislate what bar operators can and cannot do in the name of forcing drunks to behave with any sense.

I agree that Senator Della & the City of Baltimore have bigger issues to tackle than beer pong. That said; Della is responding to the requests of his community. It's the community that often needs to chill out a bit. Most folks moved down to Fed Hill to be closer to the night life and enjoy all that the scene has to offer. Now that they are older, and have more responsibilities they often lose sight of the reason that they were drawn to the city in the first place. We often see these same issues come up in other neighborhoods with a vibrant social scene. Living in these area's is a balancing act.

Nice to see our State Senators are tackling Baltimore City's real problems: beer pong.

Leave it to Maryland to try to leglislate everything away... Nice try, Della.

Reminds me a little of a slogan my good friend put on a t-shirt once... "Maryland: If you have a dream, we already have a tax on it."

Take the ping pong ball out of the equation and you have a few friends sharing a few pitchers of beer. Some people will drink alot of alcohol through the course of an evening, game or no game.
Gary, I'm right there with you.

Now......flip cup anyone?

"Maryland: If you have a dream, we already have a tax on it." - CantonKate

That is too funny.

I hear they are looking at outlawing power hour mixes.

Della lives on Hamburg, so he probably just wanted it for his own desires. ...

Power. To. The. People.

I have to say I was pretty fired up about this, I'm just glad it ended in the right way - with everyone rallying together and making their voices heard, shooting down truly awful legislation.

perfect timing for the far superior game of cornhole to take over.

This awful bill is about much more than just beer pong. Read the language. It would have also banned "any other game or contest that involves drinking alcoholic beverages." So it would have meant saying goodbye to cornhole, quarters, flip cup, etc. I'm glad Della finally came to his senses.

For those of you looking for a good piece of legislation to support, check out SB338, which would allow Marylanders to receive direct shipments of wine. Most other states already allow this, but Maryland has gone so far as to make it a felony. Absolutely ridiculous.

I just want to thank everyone for all the support. Our position was voiced and it is fantastic that we were heard. Job well done on all sides.

Jim Reiter

A beer pong ban? As a fairly new US citizen, it always amazes me how much "the land of the free" tries to prohibit and regulate.
One of the first observations I made when I got to the US was all the NO signs posted all over.
That and that most Americans do not use their garages for cars, but as junk storage ;)

How is Della still in office? He seems to focus on a new vendetta against bars and restaurants every six months or so and that's all we ever hear. Come on, beer pong? Please tell me this isn't serious.

Fear not, intrepid readers! Sam Sessa is on the case!


You are so right, especially in Federal Hill. There are signs everywhere, NO this and NO that, especially when it comes to parking (another topic all together). Can't we all just get along!

Please tell me that cornhole isn't what I think it is.

if you mean the best game in the world, then yes...but i don't recommend going to

wiki is your best bet.

Surprised to hear that a group of frat-boy miscreants had the patience and intelligence, and the ability to stay sober long enough to mount such a revolutionizing countercultural movement!

You really do have to wonder about people whose highest priority is to stand around for hours tossing ping pong balls into partially filled plastic beer cups for FUN??

Is this a skill that enables one to land a well-paying job or earn anything more than a free drink? Do beautiful women really aspire to a life of leisure with the State Beer Bong Champion???

One thing that won’t work is if the Pong Boys eventually land government jobs, OTOH perhaps some civic involvement would ennoble these dimwits?

Frankly we should all heave a huge sigh of relief. Della’s olive branch, trade-off extending the liquor license dormancy period from 180 to 360 days could have imbued bar owners with an extra cushion of financial protection. You would think the licensees might have been smart enough to realize that passage SB 233 would have added significant asset value to their businesses.

But hey…they run in the same circles as the beer pong aficionados! People who literally [urinate] away their winnings!

Della was handing them a golden egg on a sterling silver platter…. They let the beer pongers [urinate] it away! Toooo Funny!

tomato head:im an attorney and also a "beer pong miscreat" as you call it. what do you do for a living that allows you to generalize and judge others? you can take your golden egg and stick it up your a%$

To the courageous, intelligent attorney who used my name instead of his own...the word is miscreant..

Look up the definition then look in the mirror!

Tomato's a game for god's sakes. get off your high horse. your little essay screams out "I was the last kid picked in gym class". As for the liquor license extensions? It's just an avenue for bar owners that don't have enough capital to make it through tough times to hang on to their license if they have to close.

Just read in the Sun that before the law capped his [butt], Travis the Chimp enjoyed playing beer pong. Seems the T-Chimp went beaucoup dinky-dao the other day when he found out beer pong was banned in Baltimore County. Unfortunately his bizarre protestations eventually led to his demise.

Life is too short folks. Everyone chill out and try to keep in mind... it's beer today and before you know it...just like's all pong tomorrow.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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