The invention of the pokie of course goes right back to the creation of the very first slot machine in the world. Designed by one Charles Fey in the US, the game he came up with was called the “Liberty Bell” and by today’s standards at least was pretty simple. At the time though, it was about as advanced as anything the world had ever seen…at least in gaming stakes.
Over a century ago, slot machines started making their way to Australia and popped up all over the place. At this point in time they weren’t actually allowed in the country by law, but they nonetheless slipped through the net and were met with huge popularity.
Back in the 50s, it became clear that slot machines had a pretty huge future in Australia – at least in the eyes of a firm called Aristocrat. A chap by the name of the Joe Heywood came up with the iconic ‘Clubman’ game which would eventually evolve into 1955’s ‘Clubmaster’.
It was just 12-months later than the New South Wales government decided that gaming machines should be made legal, if only in clubs that were registered and regulated. This would come to be the historic decision that would once and for all change the gaming industry in Australia.
Despite the fact that games around at the time were pretty rudimentary, they were a huge hit across the country and drew in gamers from all corners. The early games were a far cry from the all-singing, all-dancing machines of today – it wasn’t until the following decades that the first lights were installed in pokies.
The formula had been set and the industry stuck by it like glue – the familiar sight of three spinning reels with one, three or five winning lines depending on the game. This would remain the universal face of pokies for decades to come and as far as prizes went, you weren’t going to take home any life-changing sums of cash.
There also wasn’t much interaction or skill to speak of – you just pulled the handle and prayed for a win!
Video slots would eventually come along in the second half of the 1980s and bring the biggest revolution the industry had seen since the first slot ever invented. This would be the first time we’d see slots with what seemed to be a massive five reels, with any number of paylines and various new ways to interact.
The spread of video slots was rapid and enormous – you really cannot fail to spot dozens of the things in most town and cities the world over. From the smallest village pubs to the dizzying lights of Vegas, video slots are beyond big business – they are everywhere! In terms of sheer numbers, they are probably the most popular gambling machines on the planet today by a million miles.
As far as the future goes, it’s looking brighter than ever for pokies and for the industry as a whole. Technology is constantly advancing and allowing for the most immersive and downright enjoyable gaming experience beyond the imagination of anyone just a few short years ago. There are million-dollar prizes being won every day, new ways of playing being introduced and some of the safest gambling opportunities ever.
From the simplest three-reel slots with a single level right through to 20-reel slots that could put you in a new tax bracket, the world of the pokie has never been more exciting.
What’s In A Name?
If you’re one of the millions asking the question as to where the name ‘pokies’ actually came from, the sad truth is it’s a bit of a mystery. As with most forms of slang, there’s no concrete record as to when the word first came into use or who was responsible for creating it. In any case, though, it would come to be the standard terminology used by gaming houses and casinos all across Australia.
One theory is that the word was originally used to describe video poker machines, but would eventually expand to be used for all video slots across the board.
Funnily enough though, despite the term ‘pokies’ being just as common in Australia as any others, it seems to have been totally confined to this country alone – chances are when uttered abroad they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about!