What are pokies anyway? A look at Australia’s unique betting scene

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Australians are the world’s biggest gamblers. That’s not just some vague statement based on national stereotypes, it is a statistical fact. The gambling industry generates around $25 billion each year out of Australia. With a population of only around 25 million, the mathematics are not difficult.

Gambling is a way of life in Australia, and is ingrained in the national culture, even to the extent that it has its own language. Placing a bet on the horses or dogs, for example, is known a punting – a logical interpolation of the word “punter” as a gambler. Former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting was universally known by the nickname “Punter” due to his fondness for a wager at the dog track. Then of course there are the famous pokies.

Pokies everywhere, in the real world and at online casinos

Just over 50 percent of the $25 billion spent each year on gambling is fed into pokies. They are the most popular form of gambling in Australia, and they can be politically controversial. Pokies is an Australian abbreviation for poker machines, but this does not, as some people falsely assume, mean video poker.

In fact, pokies are simply slot games. The name probably came about because the very first slot games had card symbols only and the reels effectively dealt players a poker hand. The later change to fruits was to make slot games appear more wholesome, but in Australia, the name stuck.

Pokies are everywhere. Except in certain states, they are not restricted to casinos. You will also see them in pubs, cafes, truck stops and so on. Increasingly, Australians are turning to cyberspace to play pokies, too. There are dozens of website platforms offering casino service platforms to Australians, and almost all can be accessed in full from your smartphone. See more details at https://www.casinoaus.net/mobile-casinos/, an independent source of mobile casino reviews that is aimed squarely at the Australian market.

Other popular forms of gambling

A recent survey from strawpoll confirmed that as of 2023, playing the pokies is still far and away the most popular form of gambling in Australia. Let’s take a look at the rest of the top five.

Sports betting is at number two. That’s no big surprise, Aussies are passionate about their sport, and are highly competitive on the global stage, especially in sports like cricket, rugby and tennis. That’s an impressive achievement given that other countries like USA and India have such huge populations to choose from by comparison. Putting a few Aussie dollars on the cricket or footie is all part of the experience.

Horse racing is counted separately from sports betting as it is considered a discipline of its own. There are dozens of race meetings all over Australia every year, and betting is park oof the racing experience. Famous races like the Melbourne Cup attract wagers from people who never usually bet at all.

Lotteries and keno come in fourth and fifth. Both are pure games of chance, but both also pay a large proportion of revenue to charitable causes. So, players feel that even if they lose, the money was well spent.

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