Massachusetts alcohol regulators are investigating whether beer distributors, brewers, and retailers are violating the law by paying to have certain brands sold in bars and at liquor stores, while shutting out others.

Investigators for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission tell The Boston Globe they have issued subpoenas to several breweries, distributors, and retailers for records to determine whether they are paying for, or demanding payments for, access to taps and shelf space.

The practice, known as pay-to-play, is illegal under state and federal laws.

Frederick Mahoney, chief investigator for the Massachusetts agency, refused to identify which companies were under investigation.

Inducements can take several forms, including paying retailers to stock particular beers, or gifts, including expensive equipment.

The Beer Distributors of Massachusetts acknowledged some of its members have received records requests.