07/04/2013 02:12 EDT | Updated 09/03/2013 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan serves up more liquor law changes to allow stores in communities

REGINA - Saskatchewan is changing the rules to allow more communities to get liquor stores.

Nine communities with populations greater than 1,000 will now be eligible for a liquor franchise.

The franchises sell alcohol on behalf of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Before the change, businesses interested in liquor franchises had to be at least 20 kilometres from the nearest government liquor store or another franchise.

The distance rule meant many growing communities, such as those near Regina and Saskatoon, were excluded.

Another change will allow existing franchises to sell a full selection of beer, not just specialty beer products.

"As Saskatchewan continues to grow and populations increase, we want to ensure that services provided are consistent with people’s expectations," Donna Harpauer, minister responsible for the liquor and gaming authority, said in a news release Thursday.

"These changes will help ensure that customer needs are met."

There are approximately 185 liquor franchises operating in Saskatchewan.

Earlier this spring, the government changed liquor laws to allow private liquor stores — a move it said was needed to meet demand in growing neighbourhoods in Saskatoon and Regina that are underserved by existing public stores.

Harpauer announced in April that two private stores would open in Saskatoon and another two in Regina.

All the private stores are expected to open next year.