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Liquor license application in the window of Molly's Pub, 253 E. Chestnut St. in Lancaster on Wednesday.

Retail liquor licenses are governed by the state Liquor Control Board, which allows one license for every 3,000 residents of a county.

Retail licenses include restaurant, hotel and club licenses, as well as “eating place” licenses that allow sales of beer and malt beverages only.

Because the quota previously had applied to each municipality and has been changed over the years, nearly every county is well over its allowance.

Lancaster County has 362 retail liquor licenses, well above the quota of 173 based on its 2010 population of 519,445.

The number of existing licenses includes 228 restaurant, or R-licenses, which are the most common type.

Because the state isn’t creating new restaurant liquor licenses, anyone who wants one has to buy it in the private market from someone who has one.

The Liquor Control Board regulates licenses transfers but doesn’t track sale prices.

While a provision in Act 39 allows the state to auction off a small number of expired restaurant liquor licenses, the majority of licenses are acquired through private sales.