Why Are Slots Called Pokies?

Article by Andy Potts
volatility in pokies guide
Last Updated: Feb 19th, 2024 Share On Your Network:

Online slots, to Aussies and Kiwis, are colloquially known as “pokies.” The term is most likely derived from the phrase “poker machine” and is widely used in Australia and New Zealand in place of the word “slots,” which is used to describe these online casino games in other parts of the world. 

If you’re new to online casinos, pokies are games with reels, rows, and symbols. When the reels spin, symbols create specific combinations that may result in payouts. Some pokies come with special symbols like wilds and scatters, which can trigger bonus features or free spins. Pokies also vary in themes and styles and range from classic fruit machines to video pokies with animations and special sound effects.

When looking for an answer to the question – why are slots called pokies? – it’s important to note that the term is used predominantly for games that are referred to as slots elsewhere, though some people use the term to refer to online gambling games more generally. In what remains of this article, we take a closer look at why slots are called pokies and introduce you to this popular type of online casino game.

The Story Behind the Word “Pokie”

“Pokie” is a term that refers to a slot machine game. The word originates from the late 19th century when the first mechanical slot machines were made in the United States. These machines used cards as symbols and were often called poker machines by gamblers. By the early 20th century, pokies were imported to Australia and were popularized in pubs and tobacconists.

Then, Aristocrat, a firm founded in 1953 by Len Ainsworth, produced the first pokie machine made in Australia. The company’s initial pokie machine was named Clubman and later Clubmaster in 1955. These machines had three reels, one payline, and a lever to set the reels in motion. They also featured simple elements such as nudges along with holds so that players could influence where the reels landed. 

In 1956, pokies became legal in New South Wales for registered clubs, and Aristocrat became a major manufacturer of them throughout Australia.

The term “pokie” is thought to have come about as an abbreviated form of “poker machine” sometime during the late sixties or seventies. It’s not clear why this term became common in Australia, but there are several theories. 

One such theory suggests that Australians wanted to differentiate their slot machines from American games and decided that “pokie” was a term fit for the purpose. An alternative theory is that Australians used this word to refer to playing poker machines without alerting anyone who may deem it unacceptable or against the rules. 

The third explanation suggests that Australians were simply attracted to the sound of the word “pokie,” because it rhymes well with other slang terms like “blokie” and “chookie”.

Today, pokies are among the most widely played forms of gambling, both online and offline, in Australia. Online pokies are digital versions of pokie machines played via computers or mobile devices. They feature different themes, elements, payouts and even progressive jackpots, which can be worth thousands or even millions of dollars. 

Pokies are regulated by the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which restricts Australian-based online casinos from offering real money gambling services to Australian residents. Nevertheless, many offshore online casinos accept Australians and provide them with a wide variety of online pokies to choose from.

Pokies, Slot Machines - What Else?

Pokies, slot machines, slots. These are the three terms that are most commonly used when talking about games that are played in casinos, arcades and pubs in Australia. However, did you know that these slot machines have different names depending on where they’re played? 

For instance, in the United Kingdom, they may be referred to as ‘fruities’ or ‘fruit machines’. This is because many of them have fruit symbols such as cherries, lemons and oranges on the reels. This also serves as a reminder of the earlier days when these slot machine games distributed chewing gum and candy instead of cash winnings.

“Puggies” is yet another name associated with slot machines, commonly used in Scotland. This is just a slang phrase for “poker machines” in this region. Puggies also refer to small dogs called pugs, and perhaps one of the reasons why Scottish players use this term for slot machines is based on the resemblance between pugs and slots.

“One-armed bandits” is also a general term that is used in other parts of the world. This name comes from the fact that these machines have a handle on the side where the player pulls to make the reels spin. It also signifies how much money they can take from players since they tend to have low payout rates and high house edges.

Final Words

Pokies have an interesting history that contributes to Australia’s unique gaming culture. While pokies have different names around the world, one thing that we know is that slots are by far the most popular games at online casinos. 

In the world today, pokies are very popular and they come with different themes, rewards, and bonus features. This article on why are slots called pokies has examined the history and development of pokies as well as why they are so fascinating to gamblers. If you are looking for more information on online casinos and gambling, feel free to read our other blog articles.

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