Pokies are widespread Australian entertainment, with 39% of adult Aussies playing them in one or another version at least once a year. Online, live, and land-based pokies have a long history full of interesting facts and unbelievable stories. Read on to hear the Top 10 facts about pokies, pokie players, and their wins and losses in Australia.
What Are Pokies?
First of all, let us distinguish pokies’ essential features. Aussie pokies are defined as a chance game with a grid formed with turning reels. The reels are covered with symbols that create certain winning combinations – paylines. To make the reels spin, a player needs to place a bet and push a button or, in previous versions, turn a single side handle. That is why pokie machines are called single-handed bandits in several countries. Their international names are slot machines or just slots and, due to Smart Pokies in Australia, even online casinos often call them slots. In Australian official documents, they are known as poker machines.
In Australia, you can easily find the best pokies in casinos, pubs, restaurants, hotels, entertainment centers, and supermarkets. You may see video and online pokies while watching TV or surfing the Internet. Numerous pokies offer rather huge jackpots, sometimes of several million AUD, and their winners become a celebrity for the day in the local newspapers. Therefore, Australians are acquainted with pokies very well. That being said, there is still some info and facts about casinos with pokies known by hardly anyone.
NSW is Big on Pokies
One of the most well-known pokie facts: there are about 1 million pokie machines in the world. 100,000 of them are located in New South Wales which only covers around 0.53% of the Earth’s surface. This means NSW has the biggest concentration of pokie machines, with one pokie for every 77 people. It is enough to provide each NSW inhabitant, including babies and children, with an 18-minute playing session per day.
1 Casual Punter for 11 Problem Punters
Of 20 million Australians, 300,000 are problem punters. The average casual punter spends 1,100 AUD for online pokies in Australia every year, while a problem punter spends about 12,000 AUD. One problem punter goes for 11 regular Australians who enjoy pokies less than once per month.
According to online surveys, an average Australian punter spends half of all playing funds on a single favorite pokie. Moreover, most loyal punters started playing on a regular basis after a notable winning of more than 500 AUD. They also confess that they tried to repeat or exceed the previous success in the same pokie. Obviously, the best online pokies with progressive jackpots collect 5 times more fans than the average pokie.
Almost any pokie fan knows about the first Australian slot machines with a pokie theme that gave pokies their Australian nickname. It is time to tell some fun facts about casinos’ pokie payouts. In the USA, the first slot machines skirted local gambling laws by paying winnings in bubblegum with a certain flavor – apple, cherry, orange, lemon, grape, plum, or watermelon. To adjust the flavor, pokie developers implemented fruit symbols and paylines to grids, and that is the origin of the fruit pokie theme.
No Pokie Machines at Home
Australians can play a land-based pokie everywhere except at home. Australia is full of casinos, pubs, and restaurants with pokie machines, and Australians may even find them in supermarkets. Australians can also find them in some hotels and Spa centers. An Australian private citizen cannot buy a pokie machine even for individual use and cannot install it at home. However, this is no big deal, as anyone may enjoy Aussie online pokies instead.
The biggest Australian pokie casino is, actually, a supermarket. Grocery shop Woolworths owns 11,000+ pokie machines in stores across the whole Australian territories.
That is more pokies than in the 6 biggest Las Vegas casinos, much more than the libraries of the biggest Australian online casino and even the greatest online casinos in the world. All these Woolworths pokies bring their owners 200 million AUD per year.
The Biggest Pokie Beneficiaries – And They Are Not Players
Poker machines did make several Australians mega-rich but, honestly, they developed pokies instead of playing them. These five visionary businessmen formed the Australian pokie market and created companies that have remained market leaders until now:
- James Packer with a fortune of 6 billion AUD
- Len Ainsworth (1 billion AUD)
- Bruce Mathieson (1.2 billion AUD)
- Arthur Laundy (310 million AUD)
- Farrells (275 million AUD)
In 2014, the gambling company and lottery operator Tatts Group received a record compensation of 540 million AUD from the Victorian government. It was paid for the illegal revocation of the license for operating Australian online pokies and land-based gaming machines.
The Biggest Pokie Winnings
When speaking about the benefits of pokie winners, we should start with jackpots:
- 39.7 million USD were hit in a land-based casino Excalibur, Las Vegas, in 2003
- The biggest jackpot in an Australian pokie was won in an online game Dark Knight by Microgaming. It contained 10.4 million AUD and was hit in 2014. One of the most interesting facts about online casinos is that this jackpot is not outperformed until now
- The biggest Australian pokie jackpot that was won in 2023 is a Megabucks jackpot of 350,000 AUD
A little tip: if you hunt a jackpot, avoid pub and restaurant pokies. Their winnings are limited by houses because of Australian legislation and never exceed 10,000 AUD.
The Biggest Pokie Scammer
The biggest Australian pokies casino scam was held by a player, not by a casino. This anonymous Australian managed to cheat the casino’s surveillance system and steal 32 million AUD. The player was assumed to be a VIP and a regular casino guest with VIP access to private rooms with high-volatile pokie machines. For years, the police were not able to catch the stealer or even disclose their identity.
Cannot Beat? Lead
Australian pokies were illegal for a third of their lifetime. The first pokie machines were imported to Australia in the 1900s. The government tried to ban them almost from the very beginning but without the least success: small pubs with pokies passed underground, and top-class gaming clubs for the rich were not banned at all.
Numerous arrests, fines, and police raids changed nothing. This hopeless battle continued until the development of the first Australian pokie in 1953. The national provider meant at least an opportunity to control the quality of pokies, and the government surrendered.
3 years later, the NSW government legalized land-based pokies in licensed playing clubs. Over the next decade, pokies became widespread across the whole of Australia. The paradoxical result is one of the most interesting facts about pokies: everyone won. Australians got their favorite entertainment without risks. Casinos and pubs received huge income without fines. And the government itself gained taxes that now exceed 6-7 billion AUD per year.
Pokies are interesting for both playing and discussing, so it’s no wonder they became a part of Australians’ life. Pokies have changed a lot since their invention and will continue to evolve. More and more new records, fun stories, and facts about pokies await for pokie fans in the future. Play these ingenious games and create your own pokies memories and stories by yourself.