Implementing Robotic Ordering Systems in Bars: Compliance, Benefits, and Legal Considerations


The pervasive influence of technology across industries grows deeper each year. A notable example is the on-premise alcohol retailers, who are now leaning towards the adoption of automated ordering systems, with or without the integration of AI.

This trend is a subsection of a broader movement among these retailers to optimize customer service while also economizing operational costs. In this journey, technology stands as a pivotal player.

Robot-Assisted Orders
Picture this: You walk into your favorite bar, and instead of a human bartender, you encounter a robot taking orders. Whether it’s an anthropoid robot simulating human interactions or an app-based service where a robot delivers your drink, the landscape is shifting. However, these novel systems often wander into grey areas concerning existing legal frameworks for on-premise alcohol sales.

For those contemplating integrating robot-assisted ordering, consider:

Compliance Factors for Alcohol Retailers

  • Age Verification: The law is clear about not serving minors, with most states mandating ID checks to confirm legal drinking age. Even in states where this isn’t obligatory, verifying age can save a retailer from severe penalties. The limitation? Current robots aren’t adept at verifying age, although there’s talk of facial recognition filling this gap. If adopted, retailers must ensure this method is legally sound or else rely on human intervention for age confirmation.
  • Training & Licensing: Several states require bar staff to undergo training or possess a serving license, ensuring they can responsibly handle inebriated customers. The question remains on how robots will achieve these certifications or recognize signs of intoxication. Absent a clear solution, human oversight, trained and licensed, might be the answer.

Liability Considerations
Generally, on-premise retailers procure robotic systems from third-party vendors rather than producing them in-house. While contracts might outline liability sharing, violations typically fall on the license holder. With robots on the premises, accountability in case of compliance failures becomes a murky issue.

Benefits & Cost Efficiency
Robotic systems are not just about challenges. They offer tangible benefits. Robots can reduce labor costs, ensure precise alcohol measurements eliminating risks of over-pouring or undercharging, and alleviate the high turnover rates common in the industry.

Balancing Efficiency with Service Quality
As technology continuously reshapes the food and beverage sector, on-premise retailers must harmonize operational efficiency with superior customer service.

If a robot-assisted ordering system sounds appealing for your business, it’s prudent to consult with an expert in alcohol beverage regulations to comprehend your state’s specific requirements.

Legal Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The content presented is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal, tax, or financial advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. Readers are encouraged to consult with their own attorney, CPA, and tax advisors to obtain specific guidance and advice tailored to their individual circumstances. No responsibility is assumed for any inaccuracies or errors in the information contained herein, and John Montague and Montague Law expressly disclaim any liability for any actions taken or not taken based on the information provided in this article.

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