Among the liquor licenses that selectmen approved on Wednesday was the one held by City Bar & Grill, which has been closed for several months.
Town officials admitted they do not know if it plans to reopen.
The reason the license was renewed was to keep it for the town, which is threatened with losing one of its allocated licenses because its population declined for the last census, Town Administrator Thomas Younger said.
"If you don't renew it (the City Bar & Grill license), you will lose it," Younger said.
Swampscott's population in 2010 was 13,787, which is below the threshold of 14,001 needed to qualify under state law for 14 full alcohol licenses.
By renewing the City Bar & Grill's liquor license, that allows the town to have one license it might sell.
Younger said the ABCC has determined that the license for the VFW Post 1240 should not count against the town's allotment.
So with the City Bar & Grill's license, Swampscott may have two liquor licenses to sell.
The annual fee for a liquor license in town is $2,400.