The Government has said it cannot guarantee it will be able to abolish an ancient Welsh law allowing a regular public vote on Sunday opening.
Licensing minister Kim Howells (pictured) last month pledged to review the law, which gives the Welsh public the right to vote every seven years.
But in a letter received last week by Gareth John, secretary of Licensed Victuallers (Wales), Mr Howells said he "cannot guarantee the law will be changed before the next polls are due" in 2003. Mr John said he is "disappointed" by the Government's attitude and has written to Rhodri Morgan, head of the Welsh Assembly, asking him to intervene.
The strongly religious anti-alcohol lobby in Wales has used its influence in the past to force a vote in many areas. Only 50 people have to request one before the local authority is obliged to organise a poll.
The last vote cost the trade several hundred thousand pounds in campaigning to persuade people to come out and vote for their local pub on the day.
One district remained dry up until the last vote in 1996.
Mr John said: "If the law isn't changed in time we are likely to face these polls again - I have been told that the same group that lobbied for the polls before is still there. The Government needs to act to remove the uncertainty for licensees."