The origins of Pokies or also known as slots, date back to the turn of the 19th century. Due to their simple design, rather easy to learn rules and profit potential pokies have maintained an ever increasing player base. The first slot machine was designed in the USA by a man called Charles Fey. This game was named Liberty Bell and soon after its release it became a huge hit. It didn’t take long before slots arrived on the Australian continent. Although at that time slots were illegal in Australia they found their way around to persist to this very day.
Somebody had to quench the desire for pokies in Australia. The demand was high, but there was no supply of them whatsoever. In the early 1950s an Australian company called Aristocrat took on the responsibility to design, develop and deliver slots for the Australian market. Aristocrat’s first game was titled The Clubman, designed by Joe Heywood. In 1955, two years following its release The Clubman was replaced with an improved version called the Clubmaster.
The tides have turned in 1956 when the government of NSW decided to legalize pokies, but only in registered clubs. From this point onwards the success of pokies on Australian soil was guaranteed. At that time pokies were rather simple without the flashy elements and mesmerizing audio we get to see and hear today. Despite being simple and fairly modest in the design department pokies were still attracting new players while keeping the existing ones coming back for more.
All of them had only 3 reels with 1, 3 or 5 lines. Furthermore, the payouts were significantly lower than today’s jackpots and there were little to no interactive elements. Basically, the player had to pull the handle and wait for the reels to stop spinning.
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Video Slots Changed Everything
In the 1980s the first video slot was released. This was the most notable milestone since the introduction of the first slot ever created. Charles Fey, the inventor of the first slot, designed a game that outlived him, a game that kept adapting to the demand trends and the technological advancements.
This substantially improved version of the classic 3 reel slots offered more winning opportunities with 5 reels, a higher number of lines and it paved the way for unique bonus features such as free spins and a gamble feature.
Due to the high demand few Australian States decided to allow pubs to place poker machines at will. This meant only one thing, an increase of the availability of gambling games in the respective states. NSW approved the release of poker machines in 1997, South Australia in 1994, whereas Queensland put this measure in force in 1992.
Eventually, the need for land based casinos became a thing where players could enjoy in a wide array of video slots. Even today slots are the most popular and the most common form of gambling.
The Advent of Online Pokies
It was only a matter of time before pokies became available to every household. This became possible thanks to the Internet. All that was needed was a working desktop device and an internet connection. One of the pioneers in Australia was the The Gaming Club online casino. Surprisingly, this online casino is still live. Today, there is a big number of online casinos targeting Australian customers.
With the ever increasing number of online casinos there was a demand for diverse video slots. Microgaming was among the first online casino software providers. In 2004 Microgaming released Thundestruck a slot game that resembles the style of Australian pokies. The number of online pokies kept increasing in the following years. Today, players can choose from a long range of online pokies with different themes, designs and most importantly different game rules.
The latest milestone in the online casino industry in general is mobile online casinos. Smartphones and tablets became portable online casinos allowing players to play anytime and anywhere. The internet access is the only limit.
How Did Slots Turn Into Pokies?
To this very day, there’s no documented proof of how the term “pokies” became a standard name for slot machines. However, there was a rather long period of time when pokies were placed next to poker machines in pubs and clubs. People used the term pokies to describe playing these machines as playing pokies, regardless of what game they were actually playing including slots and video poker. The word is now the absolute standard and the term is even mentioned in the Wikipedia entry about slot machines worldwide.
So far the term “pokies” is distinctive for Australian players only. The rest of the world seems very fond of the name slots and/or slot machines.