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Happy Hour Is Back: Gov. Rauner Legalizes Timely Drink Discounts in Illinois

Yes, it's finally legal again in Illinois.

IL Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the happy hour bill which may help Chicago's restaurants.
IL Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the happy hour bill which may help Chicago's restaurants.
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Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Bars and restaurants and Illinois can now legally offer happy hour drink specials. Gov. Bruce Rauner this afternoon signed the Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act, lifting the statewide ban that prohibited drink specials since 1989.

Establishments can offer specials for a maximum of four hours a day, as long as the bars and restaurants promote the discounts at least a week in advance. Here's a rundown of what the law allows.

The Illinois Restaurant Association saw the measure as a way to stir up business, according to president Sam Toia, as the ban prevented restaurants from offering free food or drinks as part of a meal package. As culinary tourism continues to grow in importance as a revenue stream for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois, officials worried tourists would prefer to spend in states like California and Florida, where they don't have happy hour restrictions. While the law lifts many of those restrictions, promotions like ladies' nights are still banned, as any discounts must be available to all customers.

There were some public safety concerns regarding DUIs, but the governor signed the bill despite those objections.

So, is happy hour's return a good thing, or is there cause for worry? Will this encourage more business and culinary creativity? Sound off in the comments.