Why do Pennsylvanians break the law just to buy booze? Why, for everything from spur of the moment decisions to deliberate shopping for lower prices, more convenience, different products not carried by the state stores, or just plain better service that a non-monopoly store can only provide. A private store depends on pleasing their customers; a monopoly store knows you have nowhere else you can legally go.
Let's extrapolate, shall we? In 2004, there were about 640 state stores. Now we have 605, so convenience certainly didn't increase. 29.4% of wine sales would have been $248,460,768.80 in 2014 (Can't use current numbers, because over 11 weeks after the end of the fiscal year the PLCB still hasn't released them). 20.8% of spirits would result in $243,569,926.08, for a grand total of $492,030,694.88. Not quite $500 million, but then I'm using numbers from two years ago. I'll bet it would be over the threshold if the PLCB ever decides to let us know how they did last year.
In 2010, a study that was made by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, they found that 23.6% of wine sales were done out of state or just over $200 million for wine alone. Using the current ratio of wine to spirit spending that would mean $276 million spent for spirits or a total of $476 million in total border bleed (within 3.25% of the extrapolated 2004 numbers). Close enough for PLCB work, as they say.
The PLCB Neiman report of 2011 had it over $230 million and that was for just 8 of 67 counties and didn't sample any Maryland sales at all. As I pointed out in my report in February, that number is certainly well above $300 million now. Do the other 59 counties spend $150 million out of state? I can't prove it using just the Neiman report, but the other studies indicate they probably do.
Has anything changed since 2010-11? Is the economy more like 2004, or even better now? Have gas prices come down somewhat? Do people travel more? Of course, the answer to all those questions is yes. The Neiman report showed that even during the recession people that shopped both PA and out of state stores spent more money out of state than in state in those counties and at almost all levels, but especially higher levels, than they spent at state stores. And they did it for the same reasons they always did:
Travel out of state for a broader selection and better price (Neiman report pg 28)
Go out of state to get better prices and stock up on personal supply (Neiman report pg 36)
Recapturing some of that $500 million potential through privatization means more jobs, more taxes collected, more businesses, more selection, more choice, and more benefit for the citizens by not having government interfere with retail. Painting your PA liquor jail cell and extending visiting hours (or selling the jail to some outside firm, Gov. Wolf's latest dim idea) might be better than what you have now but it isn't the same as being a customer in a free market.
Don't "modernize" it or lease it, and don't leave it as it is: NORMALIZE IT.
*This is probably because Philadelphia-area citizens are so blatant about it; we just don't care at all.