Australians love their pokies. It’s a well-known fact, well proven by how many pokies machines we have here per capita, the amount of time and money we spend on pokies games each year, and how often the average person enjoys a bet on the game.
And why not? Gambling, including playing the pokies, is legal here in Australia both in the many casinos you can find across the country, as well as the many online pokies sites accessible through the internet. Beyond that, we’re known as a nation that thrives on excitement so it makes sense we love to gamble, especially on the fast thrills brought to us courtesy of poker machines.
Each pokies game of course, has its own benefits and draw. But with so many games from which to choose, we’ve been wondering, is there a pokies theme preferred by Australian players?
A bit of background on pokies in Australia
Most estimates have it that pokies have been around in Australia since the early 1900s. This makes sense since the first proper pokies machine was only first invented around 1895 in the US. It then took some time to spread in popularity, improve its mechanisms, and make its way overseas. Once pokies landed on the Australian shores, however, the rest is history. Its popularity steadily grew until pokies machines came to become the number one form of gambling in Australia. So popular are pokies here that some 4% of adults make pokies bet each week. Even more astounding is the fact that within all the betting that goes on around here (and it’s no small amount), pokies bets account for over 60% of the money Australian’s spend on gambling each year.
We are, as such, considered the biggest pokies gamblers in the world. To keep pace, we have dozens upon dozens of casinos across the land from Tasmania through Canberra, West Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and more. Of course, these casinos also have blackjack, roulette and all the other standard gambling games on hand, but pokies games continue to reign supreme. Add to that the surging popularity of online casinos (which gained a decent legal status with the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001), and pokies play is more accessible to us than ever, making the choice in themes near astronomical.
Why pokies need different themes
To keep players engaged, the casino developers need to stay on their toes. This is done through a fine balance between recognizing local tastes in terms of themes and keeping around the classics which the locals have proven to love. At the same time, pokies lend themselves perfectly to new and intriguing themes. As such, developers are always trying to come up with unique games, to accommodate evolving trends and add to their repertoire, so players have what to look forward to.
That means finding the most popular games isn’t pure science. However, while we can’t definitively say which pokies theme is number one in Australia, based on what people here are playing, we can certainly say they include these top nine.
- Egyptian themed pokies machines
For some reason, players the world over love Egyptian themed slots. There is just something about ancient Egypt apparently that draws players in. Perhaps it’s the recognizable graphics or the always enthralling theme music. Or perhaps it’s simply something about the culture itself, but needless to say, Egyptian theme games are a sure winner both online and offline.
For the online realm, simply think of the ultimate in progressive slots, the Mega Moolah ISIS pokies game, and you instantly know what we mean. A spin on the classic Mega Moolah game from Microgaming (a bit more on that to come), this one takes place in ancient Egypt. To that extent, you’ve got Queen Cleopatra, a mummy’s tomb (a.k.a. sarcophagus), eagle bird, Eye of Horus, and other appropriate characters lining the reels, with some lovely old Egyptian music playing in the background as you play.
Offline, at the pubs for example, Australians equally love Egyptian themed games like Queen of the Nile. This game from Aristocrats has been steady in terms of its popularity since its release in 1997! Available in 3, 9, and 20-line versions of the game, its standout feature by most counts is the potential bonus of 15 free games. Similarly, its follow up game, the 20-line King of the Nile pokies machine, brought to us circa 2002, has maintained its local popularity over the long haul as well.
- African themed pokies
Pokies machines with an African theme have also proven highly appealing to local audiences. Like ancient Egypt, this makes sense, as the African theme is ripe with potential particularly in terms of graphics and sound effects.
For example, offline, Australians are known to love the game Wild Ways with its zebras, lions, elephants. and 243 ways to win. Then there’s that special feature set off by three symbols of the sunset, which release 15 free spins and multipliers between 1 and 15X, based on the number of paw prints that appear.
Online, needless to say, there is the aforementioned Microgaming flagship progressive pokies game Mega Moolah. The predecessor of Mega Moolah ISIS, this may well be the most popular progressive online pokies game ever, with its Mini, Minor, Major and Mega Jackpots, and complete with elephants, zebras, giraffes and other jungle animals lining your reels. Seeded with $1M after each win, this is the biggest paying online pokies around, plus it is packed with entertainment to boot. In other words, a natural match for Australian tastes.
- Animal themed pokies machines
Another very popular theme in terms of pokies machines is animals. The range of animal games out there is huge. That’s because frankly, animals are an easy theme to create, and have a lot of appeal to players.
So which animal games do Australians love? In the offline gambling world, 50 Lions has proven a particularly popular game. Its basis is simple. As the name implies, this game has 50 lines. What’s different here, from other pokies machines is that 20 symbols are shown onscreen at a time, rather than the standard 15 and it is possible to get an entire screen covered in the same game symbol, for roaring good payouts and incredible entertainment value.
Australian casino players also love the Penguin Pay game, particularly the 9-line version. Beyond the penguins themselves, which are entertainment enough, there’s the fun bonus feature triggered by an iceberg symbol on the first reel together with a coin symbol on the fifth reel.
Online, the animal pokies we prefer are simply too numerous to name. But for a taste, you’ve got Oink Country Love from Microgaming, with its two male pigs vying for the love of one Miss Southern Charm. If rabbits are your thing, you make want to check out Wonky Rabbits, a NetEnt classic well-loved by local players, thanks to its cute and quirky animation full of kooky adventure. Or there’s Penguin City from Yggdrasil Gaming, which has some exceptionally adorable animation and a nice story of the penguins and their quest to flee the evil Emperor Penguin who’s been tyrannically ruling over Penguin City. These are only but a few of the animal poker machine games that Australians love. We also have an affinity for other leading animal games like Buffalo Blitz, Rockabilly Wolves, Epic Ape, and many more.
- Mythical creature games
Mythical creatures have also proven an enduring pokies theme. Again, this is because they are both interesting on their own, and lend themselves well to the pokies format.
Online, mythical creature games are particularly popular, with different variations created by each online casino software developer. For example, there is 8 Dragons from Pragmatic Play, The Phoenix Reborn pokies game from Play’n GO, and Dragon Champions from Playtech.
As for land-based gaming, one of the more popular mythical creature themed games for offline play is 5 Dragons pokies developed by Aristocrat as part of its Reel Power game range. Beyond the graphics, the main feature enjoyed here is the choice of free games available once the free game bonus is triggered, all of which include potential multipliers to further increase winning possibilities.
- Ancient Gods themed poker machines
Somewhat similarly to mythical creatures, mythical gods are a well-loved pokies theme as well, especially when it comes to online play. Playtech, in particular, has really maximized this local love with its Age of the Gods series which includes games with names like Age of the Gods Rulers of Olympus, Age of the Gods Prince of Olympus, and Age of the Gods Furious 4. Other online casino software providers also got in on this godly action once they realized how much we love these types of games bringing us mythical pokies like Zeus Ancient Fortunes from Microgaming and Medusa’s Gaze from 2 By 2 Gaming.
- Golden games
When it comes to the pokies machines we like, good old gold is another popular theme. Offline the Where’s the Gold? game is probably most popular in terms of the gold theme, thanks in no small part to its multitude of free games via the free game bonus feature. Online, we tend to gravitate towards golden games like Playtech’s progressive Gold Rally slots, Liquid Gold by Microgaming, Pot O’ Gold pokies from Amaya and many, many more. Just log in to any online casino and type “gold” in the search bar and you’re sure to get a couple of choices for gold themed pokies games.
- Brawling games
While we definitely don’t encourage pub fights, there is one exception, and that is in terms of fight themed games. Always popular in Australia, these games have all the action and adrenaline we love. Offline the Prize Fight poker machine is known to be a winner with its KO symbols and triple winnings opportunities. Online you can try games like Rocky slots if it’s boxing per se that you want. Or if any type of fight suits your tastes, you can go for other types of battles in games like Battle Royal or Drone Wars.
- Superhero themed pokies games
Although we have listed superhero themed pokies as number eight on our list, it is not really a sign of their popularity in Australia. That’s because there is no denying the simple reality, and that is that we absolutely love our superhero themed games. Amongst the more popular when it comes to pokies is anything with Batman. This includes newer versions of The Dark Knight from the blockbuster movies, as much as old school Batman from his comic book heyday. Other preferred superheroes include Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and even the Green Lantern. Though truth be told, the numbers show we aren’t all that picky when it comes to caped crusaders. We’re willing to place our money on a few rounds and try pretty much anything with a superhero theme. More than that, in all likelihood, we will stick around and keep on spinning (and betting) so long as the animation lives up to expectation and the features comply accordingly.
- Cartoon themed pokies games
The final theme on our list (though not necessarily the final word on the matter) is a cartoon themed pokies game. True, there is some overlap in terms of some of the prior themes, particularly animals which are often considered cartoon in nature. Here, however, you will also find many well-loved pokies games like The Simpsons, The Flintstones, The Pink Panther and American Dad. In other words, cartoons made familiar from television and film renown. Again, like the superhero games, all a good cartoon themed game really needs in order to win over the locals is decent animation, true to form sound effects, a handful of interesting features to keep things spicy, and yes, winning opportunities.
A final few words on popular pokies themes
Overall, the verdict is that Australians love playing pokies. We play a massive number of rounds on these games each day on a collective basis and quite a few rounds on our own over the course of each year. When it comes to choosing which exact themes we prefer, truth be told, there is no definitive answer. Sure, we have a keen affinity for animal themes, Egyptian themes, and African themed games to be sure, but we also love cartoon classics and superhero spins just as much.
The key to choosing pokies, as it turns out, seems to be more in terms of overall engagement and quality. Although certain themes have stronger appeal, that’s only part of the package. We want good graphics and sound effects that keep the mood of the game going throughout each spin. Bonus rounds, multipliers, and free spins certainly help. And of course, decent payouts and good odds work to close the deal.