What exactly are pokies?Wednesday, Mar 22, 2017 12:18
Did you know that there are some unique phrases to describe slot machines in many countries? One such word is “Pokies” and this is originated from Australia and New Zealand. Pokies are, in fact, a short way of describing a poker or fruit machine and Aussies and Kiwis are big fans of these. So much so that Australia has more pokies per capita compared to every country in the world!
Pokies in Australia
To date, there are over 200,000 pokies found all across Australia with a vast majority of them located in New South Wales. These figures are quite staggering when it comes to the amount of pokies in the land of Oz as there is at least 1 pokie machine per 101 Australians! It is estimated that up to 40% of adults in Australia play pokies and that the average person wagers around $380 per year. These numbers are amazing and online casinos are sitting up and taking notice of it by providing as much fun and replay value in their pokies as possible.
The history of the Pokie
The first slot machine or pokie was created in America by Charles Fey all the way back in 1895 and it was simply called Liberty Bell. This game is quite famous as liberty bell symbols can still be seen in pokies and fruit machine today. It was not until 1953 when pokies started to gain some prominence in Australia. This was thanks to an Australian company called Aristocrat who saw some potential in this market and developed their first game “Clubman”, which was created by Joe Heywood. This game was eventually replaced by the more popular title “Clubmaster” in 1955. In 1956, New South Wales legalised gambling machines and this changed the whole landscape of gambling in Australia as pokies slowly began to pop up in quite a few cities.
Despite the small changes to pokies, they remained the same for quite some time but that all changed in the 1980’s when the first video slots were released to the general public. This was the biggest change since Charles Fey invented the first game. Video pokies now had up to 5 reels and many more ways to win. They also offered free spins as well as a gamble option. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that Australia approved the release of pokies into pubs. Popularity for pokies skyrocketed and that is when they really took off in Australia.
The first Internet casinos opened up for business in the early 1990’s and this was an entirely new way for Australians to play pokies. One of the first casinos to do this was The Gaming Club and amazingly it is still around today! In 2004, the popular software giant Microgaming released Thunderstruck as an online pokie for Australians to play and this led to a whole host of new games being released.
With mobile gaming exploding all over the world today, Australians are leaning more and more to playing pokies online with their tablets and smartphones than ever before. Players now enjoy playing pokies while on the go without the need to visit a casino or a pub.
It does make you wonder what the next step will be in the evolution of pokies in Australia?