In Las Vegas, Drinks Flow a Little Less Freely

Casinos are introducing technology to signal when a person has played enough poker to get a complimentary pour; the green light

A video poker player at Sully’s bar at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Photo: Chris Kirkham/The Wall Street Journal

By Chris Kirkham
April 18, 2017 1:33 p.m. ET

LAS VEGAS—On a recent trip here, Phil Fletcher and his friends were at a video poker bar at Bally’s casino when they noticed a series of red and green lights on the back of the machines.

He had heard about the lights, but as a longtime visitor to Vegas, he was shocked upon seeing them in person: The lights signal when a person has played enough poker to deserve a free drink, upending decades of tradition. Typically, guests got a complimentary pour at the bar regardless of how much they bet, without being tracked.

“It’s become very frustrating with all the nickel-and-diming,” said Mr. Fletcher, of Winnipeg, Canada, who visits Las Vegas at least three times a year. “As a customer, it throws you way off.”

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