Online Pokies Slots for Australian PlayersBy: Joan Peppin, Tuesday October 13th 2009
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"Pokies" is simply the slang name given to slot machines in Australia. No where else in the world are slot games known by this name. But in Australia this name has stuck. Even international developers of slot machines and online slot games refer to slots as pokies when dealing with their Australian customers.
Even before Charles Fey had manufactured the historically famous Liberty Bell slot machine in 1899, Sittman and Pitt had developed a poker machine in 1891 that used 50 playing card symbols and 5 reels. The Jack and Ten of Spades were removed to make it more difficult to make poker hands. Since then these poker machines have been found in pubs and other public places along side slot machines. In Australia the poker machines came to be known as pokies. Since the slot machines often stood alongside the poker machines they too were called pokies. Thereafter all kinds of slot machines including video slot machines and online slot games were called pokies in Australia.
The electromechanical slot machine came to Australia in the early 1900s. At that time though they were illegal, they were quite popular. The first Australian slot machine was manufactured by a company called Aristocrat. Aristocrat saw a bright future for gambling in Australia and invested heavily in the slot machine. The first machine was released in 1953 and was designed by Joe Heywood. This machine was called Clubman. Clubman was a big hit and Aristocrat kept on increasing the output. In 1955 it replaced Clubman with Clubmaster.
In 1956 New South Wales legalized the use of gaming machines in registered clubs. This was the most critical turning point for the pokies in Australia. For the next 30 years though the popularity of pokies kept on increasing there was not much change in the design. All the pokies were based on the 3-reel format with one, three or five paylines. They were operated by pulling the arm. The jackpots were small. The only significant change during this period was the introduction of lights in the slot machines.
In the mid-1980s the electromechanical slot machines started to be replaced by video slots. These too were referred to as pokies. The video pokies changed the slot games considerably. They had five reels and many paylines. Free spin features and gamble games were introduced. Because of the video graphics the general appearance of the games also became more sophisticated. The video pokies were more popular than their electromechanical predecessors.
In the mid-1990s the pokies went online. Like elsewhere in the world, players in Australia were also enthusiastic about online pokies. At one time it seemed that Australia would become the cyber casino capital of the world. Unfortunately, the Australian government had other ideas. The Interactive Gambling Act was introduced in 2000 and was followed up by another act in 2001. These acts prohibited Australian online gambling operators from catering to Australian citizens. As a result when Australian citizens want to wager online on the pokies they have to go to offshore online casinos. At these online casinos Australian players wager on the same slot games as do players from other countries. But the online casinos are sensitive to the fact that Australians refer to slot games as pokies and therefore they too refer to the slot games as pokies when interacting with Australian customers.
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