Where did the term ”pokies” come from?

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Hokie, pokie, a phrase that might seem quite a joke and comes straight out of Aussie-land. But where does it come from one might wonder? A question we hope to be able to answer.

As an online slot gambler, you might have come across the phrase, pokies or pokie. A phrase that seems so innocent but is yet taken so seriously from the competitive Australians.

In our article, we want to crack the Aussie code on, crikey, where the heck pokies were born and all other crazy ways Australians get up to in the pokies world.


After scrolling through the UrbanDictionary, for a change, pokies isn’t a word you have to hide from your in-laws. Many Aussie slang words might put the cheek in cheeky where you accidentally might mean “doodle” put come out with a word that should be completely censored…. Herewith “pokies”, that is not the case.

Now that you don’t need to worry about being put in jail for a foul mouth, we can happily say that “pokies” is a word you can shout from the top of the Australian mountains.

The only way you might offend someone is if they do not like playing slots as that is what “pokies” stands for, slots.

Shall we play a game of pokies?

As a girl or a woman in a club, pub or at a casino, I would probably be offended if I got asked that question if I had no idea what pokies was. But don’t worry, this game is not what you think it might be because as mentioned, “pokies” does not come from censored content. Pokies are in fact slots, the slot machine, online or offline.

The term seems to have come from the word “pok” in “poker machine” and has with time developed into a slang word that has stuck not only with Aussies but with gamblers worldwide. This is because Australian’s tend to abbreviate a lot of words for example; Good day becomes g’ day or beautiful becomes beaut.

Nowadays, most slot machines or shall we say, pokies machines have video screens at the land-based casinos in Australia and around the globe.

As pokies are so mighty damn popular in Australia, you can also find them in pubs and clubs. It’s actually hard to not find a land-based pokies game in Australia in this day and age because for the Aussies it’s a game that is so familiar it’s practically family.

No one really knows exactly when someone decided to call slot-machines, pokies. It’s said, according to some theories, that the slang was invented sometime in the early 19th century as during that era slot-machines were referred to as poker machines.

Aussie Pokies vs. The World

So, now that we have some basic knowledge of the urban pokies, do other countries have their own nickname for pokies too?

Australia and New Zealand have decided to create a sisterhood of the traveling gamblers so they both have both stuck to pokies. Some other countries seem to think that the Aussies and New Zealanders call the gambling device pokies because you “poke” the machine which couldn’t be further from the truth….

Although you do kind of have to “poke” or “press” a button to allow the device to spin offline or online, so they do have a point….

Sorry Australia and New Zealand but other countries seem to have a better explanation for pokies than what you have. But then, Australians are too busy gambling than to think of reasons for why the slot-machines are called pokies.

Who’s the winner, winner, chicken dinner? No one will ever know fully what the correct reason behind the urban myth and slang, pokies.

Pokies might fit perfectly to use in Australia or New Zealand but you might get some funny looks if you walk into a casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City and crack open the expression “Where can I find a good pokie to get lucky?”.

On the other hand, you might get a few giggles as pokies are nearly as famous as the icons in the Hall of Fame.

Wherever you travel in the world, each country has their own way of communicating so unless you’re an experienced pokies player, you might not know each countries slang for slot machines. So, why not keep it simple and just ask for a slot-machine to avoid confusing or offending someone as slots or slot-machine is a universal name.

If you are a curious one then here are some more urban expressions for slot-machines:

England – The British are a well-traveled bunch and happily use “pokies” as an expression but the most common one to use is “slots”.

Scotland – No has ever been able to convince the strong-minded Scottish as they refer the slots-machines to “fruit machines” or “puggy” and the most old fashioned but favorite slang for the device is “one-armed bandits”.

Fun Pokies Facts in Australia

# The first pokies became legal in 1956 in New South Wales whilst other regions followed shortly after such as; Victoria, 1976; Queensland, 1991; South Australia, 1992; Tasmania, 1997; and the Northern Territory, 1998.

# Pokies are banned in Western Australia with an exception for casinos.

# Australia has a staggering amount of 196,900 pokies machines whilst other regions have; 95,012 in New South Wales; 46,663 in Queensland; 28,860 in Victoria; and 16,440 in New Zealand.

# Aussies have the biggest amount of pokies machines across their lands compared to any other country.

# Australians are huge gamblers and lost between 2013 to 2014 a total of 11 billion AUD in clubs and hotels. Where an estimation of 1.5 billion AUD was lost on pokie machines in casinos.

# On average an adult gambler in Australia loses roughly 700 AUD per year.

# Aussies lose more on pokies than any other nation or country.

# The government earns the most from the Australians losing so much in gambling. Between 2013 to 2014 the Australian government earned around 3.2 billion AUD in just taxes on pokies.

# Only 4% in Western Australia gamble on pokies but the pokies players who do bet, lose on average around 8000 AUD per year.

# Around 30% of Australian adult gamblers play pokies.

# It has been shown through research that many Australians have easily lost around 1500 AUD on a pokies machine when alcohol has been involved.

# On average the clubs and hotels in Australia earn roughly 56,000 AUD per year whilst the pokies machines in Victoria make roughly 200,000 AUD on each pokies machine per year.

# Pokies in Australia have made some Aussie’s super-rich such as the infamous Jame Packer that has a net worth of 6 million AUD, then you have; Len Ainsworth who has a net worth of 1,840 million AUD; Bruce Mathieson who has a net worth of 1 million AUD; Arthur Laundy who has a net worth of 310 million AUD; and last but not least, the Farrell family who has a net worth of 275 million AUD.

# Sadly, in the poorest areas of Australia there tends to be the biggest amount of pokies machines such as impoverished Fairfield where the average adult gambler lost 2000 AUD on pokies back in 2010 to 2011.

# In wealthy Willoughby, the average adult gambler loses around 270 AUD per person.

# The Productivity Commission in Australia has estimated that there are roughly 115,000 problem gamblers in the country. These problem gamblers account for around 40% of the losses on the pokies machines. People who live closer or have easier access to pokies machines and venues are more likely to develop a gambling addiction.

# Of the weekly pokies players, 30% are problem gamblers who are at “huge risk” financial or in some sort of serious debt. This is why Western Australia only allows pokies machines in casinos to prevent addictive gambling.

# Australia has one of the highest RTP percentages on their pokies machines.

# 70% of Australians who gamble in some form agree that pokies should be more controlled by the government and a further 74% agree that players should be limited to spending a strict amount before they are even allowed to gamble.

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