Publican calls last drinks on binge culture

A MAN who makes his livelihood from alcohol wants Australia to change its drinking culture.

Paul Kapetanos, the owner and licensee of the Marlin Hotel in Ulladulla, has faced his fair share of alcohol related incidents.

The only licensed venue in the Milton Ulladulla area to remain open after midnight, Mr Kapetanos and the staff frequently see the effect alcohol can have on individuals.

With a strong security team employed and strict regulations on the service of alcohol, the hotel already takes many steps to ensure the safety of patrons.

“We have plastics from 10pm and don’t allow shots and doubles from midnight,” Mr Kapetanos said.

“We have the midnight lockout – which most people are well aware of.

“Most people are fairly understanding of the measures but for others it takes some getting accustomed to.”

Mr Kapetanos said that while people were generally happy to observe the rules, it was still hard to keep everyone well-behaved.

“The hardest part is trying to get people to understand that they have to behave when they come out in public,” Mr Kapetanos said.

“Just because they are out in public having a drink doesn’t mean they can behave badly.

“There needs to be a change in people’s drinking culture – people are going out to get blind drunk rather than to enjoy a few drinks with mates and that needs to change.” 

While the hotel makes every effort to ensure its patrons consume alcohol responsibly, Mr Kapetanos said illegal drugs made running a hotel like the Marlin a challenge.

The Marlin has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, along with a zero-tolerance policy to violence and antisocial behaviour, with patrons suspected of drug use or those behaving inappropriately evicted immediately.

Mr Kapetanos said despite these measures and the efforts of police to conduct regular drug patrols, drug use seemed to be on the rise.

“Drug usage is definitely on the increase,” he said.

“I think it is probably becoming more socially acceptable – but I don’t think acceptable is an appropriate term because it is not acceptable.”

With stricter regulations coming in, Mr Kapetanos said he hoped the NSW government’s reforms would help to shift the drinking culture.

“There are some good measures put in there – the increases in the penalties and the mandatory sentencing are both good,” he said.

“Even just the smaller penalty increases, like those for foul language, show people they need to behave responsibly when they are out. 

“It might help people realise they have to act more civilised.”

More than anything, Mr Kapetanos said lasting change needed to come from the patrons.

“I think a little bit more emphasis on patron responsibility is needed,” he said.

“Repeat offenders need a penalty increase as well to create a change in culture.”

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