The history of the term pokies remains debatable among Australians. Some believe the name came as early as the development of poker into Australia back in the 1950s when it was officially legalized. Due to Australians habit of using “ies” after words that typically do not have it, such as “Vinnies” and “midgies” etc., it is commonly believed that “pokies” was a light way of referring to poker as well as an attempt to make a plural use of the word, albeit the word poker is both singular and plural.
Linguistics aside, slot machines appeared in Australia as early as the 1950s and rapidly in pubs. Over time, pokie machines spread into casinos throughout Australia, with a reported 180,000 units appearing by 1999 and more than double that by 2010. Many of the games were based on US poker slot machines, with Apples and oranges being the main theme. Fruit was reportedly seen as a way to calm and attract players due to their sensual and colorful nature. The use of fruit is why slot machines are also known as fruit machines, as widely believed by many.
Throughout the 1950s into the 1960s the Australian government was lax on its attitude towards pokies law-that is, where and at what age it could be played. Going into the 1970s onwards, however, not all pubs had facilities due to enforced law, which required licensing. By Australian law, any pub that wishes to have pokies facilities now needs to have a license, which entails purchasing facilities from registered pokies providers that are licensed under Australian authority.
Pokies have always had a social aspect to it. While such games were thought to be from polluted mindsets from people with too much time on their hands, they actually reflect a larger social context or a medium that has allowed locals to come together to converse in pubs and other land-based venues such as casinos. Casinos in Australia make up over a billion-dollar industry yearly where pokies machines are the prime source of entertainment.
For every dollar Australians spend on gambling activities such as horse betting they spend five dollars on pokies. Australians money spent on pokies also makes up 1.5% of GDP and since the influx of online games that percentage has raised to over 3%, according to statistics from the Australian Government Productivity Commission.
Just as socializing face-to-face was once the mainstream and arguably still remains a strong facet of life for Australians, socializing online through various platforms, be it instant message, forums or social platforms such as Facebook have now entered locals’ lives. As a result, pokies players are becoming more accustomed to the online world and their social experiences are taking on a new form of development, which now reflects into the gambling industry in Australia.
Since the late 90s into the early 2000s online gambling in the form of pokies has moved from old IBM and Mac computers into mobile devices, including notebooks, tablets and phones, and may go even more virtual in various wearable devices. Pokies machines have followed the same guidelines, however, in the way they calculate winnings, which is through random number generator software. Online pokies vendors for the most part are regulated by Australian and New Zealand governments, and collect earnings well into the billions each year.
Government regulations meanwhile apply to both casino and online pokies but it is increasingly difficult for governments to monitor revenues associated with online platforms due to discrepancies in international laws and offshore banking. There are many reputable and safe platforms that pokies players can trust, however, which are listed in Safe Pokies. It is recommended that players always keep a budget in mind and play responsibly-something that has not changed over time.