The History of Australian Pokie Machines

Australia has a long history embedded deeply within the gambling industry. However, it was in fact an American who created the first pokie machine. Charles Fey was a mechanic, who in 1895 developed a very basic game called “Liberty Bell”, and designed his pokie machine with gamblers in mind – but certainly wouldn’t have realised how popular they were to soon become.

An old image of the very first pokie machine, known as "Liberty Bell", created by Charles Fey

An old image of the very first pokie machine, known as “Liberty Bell”, created by Charles Fey

Earliest Beginnings

Pokies came to Australia during the 1900s and were instantly popular with gamblers nation-wide. Aristocrat, an Australian pokie company, pounced on their rising popularity in 1953 and developed a pokie machine known as “The Clubman”, which was later re-named “The Clubmaster” in 1955.

 The Pokie Revolution

In 1956, the New South Wales government legalised pokie machines at registered clubs and pubs, and a new Australian past-time was born. The machines used in pubs and clubs at the time were considerably basic, and lights were not used in the pokie machines until the early-to-mid sixties.

Pokie Infancy

Throughout the years that followed, the games become more advanced as new technology was developed. Games consisted of spinning wheels, with five, one or three lines. Compared to today’s jackpots, the highest winnable amount was quite low, but this didn’t stop gamblers from using the machines as their use continued to increase all throughout Australia.

 Modern Pokies

In modern times, we see hundreds of new types of games with different styles in pubs and clubs all over the world. Australia is still leading the way in pokie machine use, having 20% of the world’s total pokies. Casinos in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Perth provide would-be winners with the chance to choose from a large variety of pokies to play, and they’re open most of the time.

 Where Did “Pokies” Come From?

The origin of the term “pokies” is considered unknown. While it is a slang term, it’s expected that the term had been initially coined by companies who advertised for casinos. People would then use phrases such as “I’m going to the pub for a beer, and might have a flutter on the pokies”, which became commonplace during the 1970s. Throughout the rest of the world, people usually refer to pokie machines as video slot machines.

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