Pokies are a term people in and around Australia use to describe games played on slot machines. If you ever happen to wander to the Land Down Under, or to the lovely green pastures of New Zealand, you will certainly come across the invitation to go play some pokies. So, for cultural reasons – they mean slots. You know, only the most popular casino game ever! The one that makes up to 70 % of apparatus inside of those, the one that is an essential part of scenery and atmosphere in every modern land-based casino, but also the one which is now increasingly being played online. Despite their huge popularity in the present day Australia, pokies were invented quite far away from this continent. It was in the late 19th century California that Charles Frey invented a poker machine with three-reels, what is now considered to be the first appearance of the thing we today call – pokies, or fruit machines (UK).Also, somewhere around that period, in Brooklyn, the first ever five-reel poker machine was being created by Sittman and Pitt. Those pioneers of gambling industry used mostly card symbols, although it is considered that symbols of bell, fruit and bar come from that period. At first these games were illegal, but that did not stop them from spreading all over United States. Somehow they found their way all the way down as far Australia, where they were first legalized in 1956, in New South Wales.
Up until the 1960s pokies were mechanical in nature, but then the first electronic poker machine was created. And not soon after that, in 1976, the first video pokies were designed which was a big leap for slot machines. Coincidence or not, these were also the days when the first (legal) casino in Australia was opened, in Tasmania, and this was a giant step towards creating a widespread “addiction” which is now not only a part of Aussie culture, but an important element of economy as well.
The next big step in history of online pokies was the moment when they actually went – online. This happened in the 1990s, although on June 20, 2001 Australian Government passed a law called the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) which prevented Aussie residents to participate in real-money online gambling. Despite this fact, online pokies have found certain ways around this law and popularity of these games sky rocketed. Websites like Spin Palace, Ruby Fortune and Cabaret Club operate from UK, for example, and players from Australia are allowed to participate. Microgaming – the biggest and the most popular producer of software for online gaming provides technological support to run those sites.
Popularity of online pokies is in a constant rise in Australia now, and revenues are also constantly rising. And since this country does not have legislative restrictions about gambling on mobile devices many software developers predict this will be the territory for future pokies. There are a lot of apps already created and optimized for usage on Android and iOS devices, and it only remains to be seen if that is the next beg step for the classic Australian game – the pokies.