The online pokies we rate and review at Australian Pokie are a far cry from the game machines that first thrilled players Down Under more than 100 years ago. The enthusiasm with which they were greeted has never abated; in fact, pokies are arguably more popular now than ever before.
The games that began as a simple machine with three reels and a few basic symbols now feature three, five, or more reels, animated symbols and sequences, multiple paylines, and bonus games.
We’ve taken a look at the history of the Australian pokie, and found out how it made its way from an American car mechanic’s workbench to being Australia’s most popular casino game. We also found out why we Aussies call them pokies, when the rest of the English-speaking world knows them as slot machines.
The Invention of the Pokie
The history of the Australian pokie goes all the way back to late 19th century San Francisco, USA. Car mechanic Charles Fey was passionate about inventing things, and it was he who created the world’s very first pokie, known as the Liberty Bell, in 1895.
With three reels, the machine was quite basic. The symbols that were used on the reels by Fey included spades, diamonds, hearts, horseshoes, and the bells that formed the winning combination and gave the machine its name.
Fey’s machine became a hit with patrons in bars and saloons. Unfortunately, state authorities weren’t as taken with the Liberty Bell, and banned it; a move that didn’t have all that much impact on the history of the Australian pokie.
Luckily for Fey and for players around the world, players in other states had been bitten by the pokie bug, and the inventor had to work hard to meet the demand for more machines. It wasn’t long before other manufacturers such as Chicago’s Herbert Mills created their own machines, and pokies found their way to other parts of the world, Australia included.
Pokies Come to Australia
Pokie machines were first brought to Australia in the early 20th century, and, just like in the USA a few years earlier, players responded to them with enthusiasm. However, due to gambling being illegal in Australia at the time, a great deal of gaming was clandestine.
The history of the Australian pokie begins in its own right in 1953, when Aristocrat Leisure, founded by Len Ainsworth, produced its first pokie machine, known as the Clubman. Ainsworth improved the design of the first machine, and the company released its second machine, the Clubmaster, two years later.
Pokie machines were legalised in New South Wales in 1956, and that’s when things really took off. Poker machines were developed alongside slot machines, and became almost as prevalent. It was at this time that all such gaming machines began to be referred to by Australian players as pokies, which is a contraction of poker machine.
Pokies on the Worldwide Web
The history of the Australian pokie became even more exciting with the beginning of the digital revolution in the mid-90s. The internet was unleashed on the world, and software developers such as Microgaming wasted no time in creating digital versions of pokies for online casinos.
Despite a rather mixed response by the Australian government, more and more players either supplemented their gaming in brick and mortar establishments by playing online, or simply took to spinning the reels online only.
Many players turn to sites such as Australian Pokie to find recommended casinos that accept players from the country.