The Meaning of Pokies in English: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to gambling, few terms are as widely recognized as “pokies.” Originating from Australia and New Zealand, this slang term has become synonymous with slot machines in the English language. In this article, we will explore the meaning of “pokies” in English, its origins, and its cultural significance. We will also delve into the popularity of pokies, their impact on society, and the differences between pokies and other forms of gambling. So, let’s dive in and uncover the fascinating world of pokies!

The Origins of the Term “Pokies”

The term “pokies” is an abbreviation of “poker machines,” which refers to the electronic gaming machines commonly found in casinos, pubs, and clubs. The word “pokies” first emerged in the 1960s in Australia and quickly gained popularity due to its simplicity and catchy nature. Over time, it became the preferred term for slot machines in both Australia and New Zealand.

The Cultural Significance of Pokies

Pokies have become deeply ingrained in the culture of Australia and New Zealand. They are not only a popular form of entertainment but also a significant contributor to the economy. Pokies generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, making them a vital industry for both countries.

Furthermore, pokies have become a social activity, with many people enjoying them as a way to relax and socialize with friends. Pubs and clubs often have dedicated areas for pokies, creating a lively atmosphere where people can gather, have a drink, and try their luck at winning a jackpot.

The Popularity of Pokies

Pokies are immensely popular in Australia and New Zealand, with a significant portion of the population regularly playing them. According to a study conducted by the Australian Gambling Research Centre, around 39% of Australian adults participate in gambling activities, with pokies being the most popular form of gambling.

One of the reasons for the popularity of pokies is their accessibility. Unlike other forms of gambling, such as horse racing or sports betting, pokies are readily available in various locations, including pubs, clubs, and casinos. This accessibility makes them a convenient option for those seeking entertainment and the chance to win some money.

Additionally, the allure of pokies lies in their simplicity. Unlike card games or sports betting, which require a certain level of skill and knowledge, pokies are easy to understand and play. All it takes is a press of a button or a pull of a lever, and players can instantly find out if they have won or not.

The Impact of Pokies on Society

While pokies are undoubtedly popular, they also have a significant impact on society, both positive and negative. Let’s explore some of the key aspects:

Positive Impact:

  • Pokies contribute to the economy by generating substantial revenue for the government and supporting jobs in the gambling industry.
  • They provide entertainment and a social outlet for many people, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.
  • Pokies often fund community projects and initiatives through the taxes and levies imposed on gambling operators.

Negative Impact:

  • Pokies can lead to addiction and financial hardship for some individuals. The ease of access and the potential for large winnings can make it difficult for vulnerable individuals to control their gambling habits.
  • Problem gambling can strain relationships, lead to mental health issues, and have a detrimental effect on personal and financial well-being.
  • There is a concern that the concentration of pokies in certain areas, particularly lower-income neighborhoods, can exacerbate social inequalities.

Pokies vs. Other Forms of Gambling

While pokies are a popular form of gambling, it is essential to understand how they differ from other types of gambling. Here are some key distinctions:

Pokies vs. Casino Table Games:

Pokies are purely luck-based games, whereas casino table games, such as blackjack or poker, involve an element of skill. In pokies, the outcome is determined by a random number generator, making it impossible for players to influence the result.

Pokies vs. Sports Betting:

Pokies are instant games, providing immediate results, whereas sports betting involves placing wagers on the outcome of sporting events. Sports betting requires knowledge of the teams or players involved and an understanding of the odds, whereas pokies are purely based on chance.

Pokies vs. Lottery:

Pokies offer the possibility of winning large sums of money in a single session, whereas lotteries typically offer larger jackpots but with much lower odds of winning. Additionally, pokies provide immediate gratification, while lottery results may take days or weeks to be announced.


Yes, pokies are legal and regulated in both Australia and New Zealand. However, the specific regulations and restrictions may vary between states and territories.

2. Can you win real money playing pokies?

Yes, playing pokies can result in real money winnings. The amount you can win depends on various factors, including the specific game, the size of your bet, and the outcome of the spin.

3. Are online pokies different from land-based pokies?

Online pokies are similar to land-based pokies in terms of gameplay and rules. However, online pokies offer the convenience of playing from anywhere with an internet connection, while land-based pokies provide a more immersive and social experience.

4. Can you develop a gambling addiction from playing pokies?

Yes, it is possible to develop a gambling addiction from playing pokies. The addictive nature of gambling, combined with the accessibility and potential for large winnings, can lead to problematic gambling behavior for some individuals.

5. Are there strategies to increase your chances of winning at pokies?

No, pokies are purely based on chance, and there are no guaranteed strategies to increase your chances of winning. The outcome of each spin is determined by a random number generator, ensuring fairness and unpredictability.


Pokies, or poker machines, are a popular form of gambling in Australia and New Zealand. The term “pokies” has become deeply ingrained in the culture of both countries, representing electronic gaming machines found in various locations. While pokies offer entertainment and the possibility of winning money, they also have a significant impact on society, both positive and negative. Understanding the meaning and significance of pokies in English provides valuable insights into the world of gambling and its effects on individuals and communities.

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