Australia is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live and visit, offering a generous 2,800 annual hours of sunshine. However, beyond the country’s breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring wildlife, lies a craze that has been sweeping the nation by storm: the ubiquitous poker machines, lovingly referred to as “pokies.”

These mechanical marvels have entranced players from all walks of life, thanks to their alluring themes, stunning graphics, and low stakes, firmly establishing themselves as an integral part of the Australian social scene. Consequently, it’s challenging to find a native who hasn’t, at the very least, tried their luck once on.

Pokies Here, Pokies There, Pokies Everywhere! Understanding Australia's Obsession

Their popularity paved the way for the emergence of pokies apps, enabling Australians to enjoy their favorite casino games on the go, along the added benefit of enticing bonus offers. But it’s not just the online versions offering AU no deposit free spins – although those are certainly sought after! That’s right, in-person pokies are also known to advertise a lucrative promotion or two.

From their historical roots to the modern day fascination, let’s take a look about why Australians are so obsessed with pokies.

What Are Pokies?

Australians have been affectionately calling slot machines “pokies” for as long as anyone can remember, in keeping with the country’s love for abbreviations. Much like the way they use “mozzie” for mosquito and “footy” for football, “pokies” is a shortened form of “poker machines,” sparing Aussies the effort of saying the full term every time. While it still remains a bit of a mystery why they continued to refer to these machines as poker machines when they share more in common with slots.

The most widely accepted theory suggests that they adopted the term “pokies” because, back in the 1900s, slot machines were placed alongside the first video poker machines in Australia. This led to all these machines being grouped together under the umbrella term “poker machines.” Even as slot machines gained momentum and surpassed poker machines in popularity, the name persisted and continues to be used to this day.

Why Are They So Popular?

Pokies are, first and foremost, highly accessible. You can easily spot a machine on nearly every street corner, and they are incredibly user-friendly, requiring no skill or strategy—just good old-fashioned fun. This accessibility takes the pressure off and allows players to relish the game for what it is: a fantastic form of entertainment. Whether you’re trying your luck at a physical location or taking your pokies on the go, the game’s vivid lights, enticing graphics, and fast-paced gameplay consistently provide an enjoyable experience.

While many casino games are social events involving other players and dealers, pokies are perfect for those times when you simply want to enjoy some solitary entertainment. It’s just you and the machine as you eagerly await your fate, watching the reels spin by. However, one of the most significant draws of pokies has to be the endless variety of themes and exciting features they offer. From sci-fi-inspired machines to those based on your favorite TV shows or movies, there’s a pokie to suit every preference.

Furthermore, various variations of the traditional games are available, giving players the chance to step out of their comfort zones and try something new, such as games with a larger number of reels. Some pokies even incorporate mini-games, providing players with the opportunity to secure additional bonuses and free spins along the way. With boundless possibilities, it’s easy to understand why Aussies simply can’t get enough of these games.

Gambling Market

The pokie market in Australia is undeniably lucrative. However, while numerous companies vie for a slice of this prosperous industry, Aristocrat reigns supreme, holding a commanding 90% share of the country’s total market. Founded in 1953, Aristocrat is not only the largest manufacturer of pokies in Australia but also ranks as the second-largest slot game manufacturer globally, trailing only behind IGT. It’s estimated that there are approximately 200,000 pokies scattered across the country, with the majority housed in hotels and licensed clubs.

The overall Australian gaming landscape boasts an impressive worth of around $255 billion, with Australians reportedly spending over a thousand Australian dollars per capita annually. Pokies are widely attributed to driving a significant portion of this economic value, owing to the inherent risk and excitement they offer. While gambling may carry a stigma in some cultures, in Australia, it has long been embraced as a form of entertainment since the early colonial days. As such we can only expect that the country’s love of pokies to continue to grow with each passing year.