Understanding the Traditional Australian Passion for Pokies

Something of a cultural phenomenon in Australia, the people of this country are widely considered to be more accepting of gambling entertainment, compared to those of other countries around the world. It’s often said that “Aussies love wagering” regularly, whether that’s betting on sports or chancing their hand when playing casino games.

Both in terms of popularity and enjoyment, no casino game attracts more attention than pokies among the millions of regular Australian players. To find out why this is the case, we need to delve into some of the history surrounding pokies, and how their cultural impact Down Under continues to make them such a popular gaming pastime.

Where can the best Aussie pokies be found?

Source: mercurynews.com

Due to the high demand for online games, largely because of the convenience and mobility available to modern devices, pokies are typically the most numerous games found at casino sites. Indeed, even small casino sites can feature hundreds of different pokies, featuring a wide variety of themed gameplay and novel designs.

But with great choice there’s also considerable uncertainty, especially whenever deciding where to play the latest pokies, although GambleOnlineAustralia.com was established for this very reason. Their ongoing aim is to inform and educate, highlighting where to play the best pokies in Australia for real money.

This includes publishing extensive guides and tips, explaining the variety of different pokies available, whether they’re three-reel, five-reel, expanding, progressive, and much more. Experts on the subject of pokies also scour the online market, finding and reviewing only the best casino sites and their selections of games.

All of this valuable information comes with typically frank Australian opinions, underlining all the pros and cons, plus honest appraisals of bonuses and promotions. Furthermore, the overall intention is for Aussies to gamble responsibly, based around using quality sources of reliable knowledge and advice.

When did pokies first appear in Australia?

Source: independentaustralia.net

The first mechanical poker machines appeared in the United States, widely credited as being the invention of Charles August Fey, who engineered the original coin-operated gambling machines in 1894. These featured playing cards affixed to rotating drums, activated by a lever at one side. Prizes were awarded for the alignment of poker hands, which explains why they immediately became known as poker machines.

Within just a few short years, these early poker machines also began to appear in Australia, where they quickly became popular in pubs and clubs. One of the earliest media references came in 1895, when Her Majesty’s Hotel in Melbourne was advertising one such machine as “the latest invention” for sale, via the local newspaper.

As the intrigue and interest began to grow, other publications featured news about poker machines. In one letter to the editor of the Sunday Times in Sydney, an avid reader listed the prizes available when playing the five-reel machine, found in a local tavern. “Odds are paid in cigars: One pair, 1 cigar; two pairs, 2 cigars; and so on up to 50 cigars for a royal flush,” he observed, back in 1896.

By 1898 these early poker machines were actually becoming quite popular and widespread, particularly in drinking establishments, located throughout the coastal urban centres of southern and western Australia. Nevertheless, they were also completely unregulated, therefore publicans could set whatever odds and prizes they saw fit, which soon came under the scrutiny of local authorities, leading to them being outlawed in most cities and states.

Why are slots called pokies in Australia?

Source: casinoalpha.co.nz

The answer to this question is mostly due to the way Australians tend to use diminutives, which TheConversation.com explains as the shortening or slang versions of an original word. For example, most of us already know that “barbie” means “barbecue” in Aussie English.

For the vast majority of Australians, the same kind of diminutive usage is commonplace for the names of people and places, even job titles. To highlight this being the case, ambulance drivers are called “ambos” by many Aussies, so the local lingo (there’s another example) can sometimes be confusing for visitors.

Locals often refer to Parramatta in Sydney as “Parra” instead, and residents of Tasmania tend to use “Tassie” as the name of their homeland. Meanwhile, the names of people are also adapted, so Barry becomes “Bazza” and Sharon becomes “Shazza” when affectionately used among friends. Indeed, these diminutives are so commonplace in Australian English, many people rarely use the full, original words or phrases these days.

Generally speaking, the same diminutive usage has evolved for poker machines, which are simply called “pokies” in everyday language across the country. However, this usage didn’t really become commonplace until the 1950s, when pokies were undergoing an important stage of development and further evolution, just as the Aussie English language has itself over the last several decades.

How did Australian pokies evolve?

Source: tamaracamerablog.com

While machines based around poker continued to be popular in Australia, using playing card symbols and poker hands to award prizes, more diversity was appearing in the United States and Canada. One of the most famous of the early machines was the Liberty Bell, named after the iconic symbol of American independence, located in Philadelphia. Three “bells” paid the jackpot of 20 cents, and horseshoes were also used as images for the first time.

New icons and images made gambling machines more appealing, which is how the “fruit machine” name was coined in British English, even though Aussies continued to call these machines “pokies” when they arrived Down Under. But as the decades passed, the tired old machinery was eventually replaced, once new technologies brought great innovations to this form of gambling entertainment.

Following two decades of development, Bally released the first completely electromechanical slots in 1963, featuring brightly lit displays and buttons instead of levers. This quickly revolutionised the casino gaming industry, directly contributing towards the subsequent development of video slots. The first of these came in 1976, when Fortune Coin used a 19-inch Sony Trinitron TV in the cabinet, along with logic boards for the game functions.

The digital revolution brought the first online casinos in the late 1990s, bringing the opportunity to try pokies from the comfort of home. Instantly appealing to Aussie players, and pretty much everyone around the world, the next step was the boom in mobile technology, making it possible to play pokies of every theme in the palm of our hands. What’s more, this evolution continues, with virtual reality and even holographic pokies beginning to appear.