ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- You, too, could own a liquor store in Washington state.

The Washington state Liquor Control Board will host a live auction May 24 for the rights to 18 state stores after the top bidders for those stores failed to pay their posted bids following an online auction.

Washington is in the process of privatizing its liquor sales after voters approved an initiative kicking the state out of the liquor business.

The state-run liquor system was formed in the 1930s in the aftermath of Prohibition. Voters approved I-1183 last fall allowing stores larger than 10,000 square feet to sell liquor, though smaller stores could sell liquor if there are no other outlets within a certain area. The exception is the state's contract and state-run stores.

Bidders already have paid out $25.9 million for the rights to 149 state stores. A bid deposit of $10,000 will be required for the remaining 18 stores.

A bid deposit of $10,000 will be required for the remaining 18 stores, the agency announced Wednesday. Those stores are located in Seattle, Tacoma, Marysville, Enumclaw, Spokane, Kent, Bellevue, Kenmore, Lakewood, Bellingham, Ocean Shores, Kennewick, Vancouver and North Bend.

More information about the auction can be found at

Meanwhile, the Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday over the constitutionality of the measure. At issue is whether the initiative violates state rules requiring measures to address only one subject, because it includes a provision to set aside $10 million for public safety.

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