History of Online Pokies in Australia

By Ryan White Updated: May 2023

The demand for casino games in general and pokies, in particular, is incredibly high in the land Down Under. There should honestly be no surprise there since more than eighty percent of the country’s adult population of 25 million has at least once engaged in a game of chance. Plus, according to data pertaining to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, more than 6.8 million Aussies engage in a regular form of gambling. That's around 39% of the total population periodically seeking the coolest gaming halls and casinos in the area where they live, and most of them are particularly interested in pokies.

This is easily noticeable since pokies are found pretty much everywhere and anywhere in Australia, especially online. Around 18% (200,000) of all poker machines on the planet were located Down Under in 2019, despite the fact that the country only makes up for around 0.3% of the worldwide population. Needless to say, passionate pokie fans do not solely limit their exploring to brick-and-mortar options. The incredible convenience and perks that playing online pokies comes with are one of the main reasons why the history of online pokies is rich and continues to thrive here.

Let's take a look at a few of the main milestones and highlights of the pokies online history in Australia and other parts of the world.

The Impressive Tale of Century-Old Pokies

More than one century ago, pokies were just starting to stick their shy heads out of the crowd. Slot, poker, or fruit machines (in the US, UK, and other parts of the world) were the so-called ancestors of today's online pokies as we all know them. They were invented in the 19th century and Charles Fey was responsible for creating the very first 3-reel poker machine. The machines had very few symbols, with the Liberty Bell images as the most valuable of them. The biggest payout was set at AU$0.50, but this didn't prevent people from fancying it since day one. In fact, the game quickly turned into a big hit and it rapidly spread across California and other US states.

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What Is The Connection Between Slots and Chewing Gum?

In 1891, Sittman and Pitt designed the first 5-reel gambling machine. The reels displayed pictures of ten distinct cards from a deck and players needed to make a winning hand at poker. The stronger their hand, the larger their prize. These machines quickly started to populate pubs and bars in the country.

Later on, slot machines began to reward players with peculiar rewards in the form of chewing gum. They featured the fruit and bar symbols that are still iconic and inspirational for many of today's pokies online.

The Turning Point In Australia's Pokie History 

In 1953, Aristocrat, an Aussie gaming company developed the Clubman, following the clever design of Joe Heywood. The game was replaced by the Clubmaster two years later, and, in 1956, New South Wales decided to introduce special gambling legislation that would enable registered clubs to host these poker machines. This is probably the most important milestone of the Australian pokie industry, as it helped shape the way players could enjoy these games.

Electrify My Pokies

  • "Money Honey" by Bally is the undisputed pioneer when it comes to the very first electromechanical slot machine created in the sixties. The game created a butterfly effect that contributed to the gradual development of even more poker machines across the country. Players were now able to play without having to rely on the assistance of attendants. Just a few brief years later, pokies bombarded the gambling industry, especially since they were now offering more generous jackpots and they were a lot more comfortable to play.
  • The year 1976 is another important milestone part of the online pokies history in Australia and other parts of the world. Why? Because the first video pokies were created. This time, players did not have to rely on any physical reels or levers that needed to be pulled. The one-armed bandits were now replaced by cool graphical interfaces with on-screen symbols.
  • This automatically meant that more pay lines and symbols could be introduced and used. Pokie operators could now gain more control over the respective pay lines as well as the odds associated with the games.
  • Pokie bonus rounds were invented in the nineties. At that time, a few of the electronic poker machines were able to reward players with free spins. However, only video pokies could trigger bonus game displays on a secondary screen. Players became instantly hooked as the games suddenly became a lot more entertaining. The pioneers of video pokies were created and released in Australia in 1994, and the “Three Bags Full” pokie game is another important highlight of online pokies history.
  • 5-reel pokie machines started to become more and more popular, which means players could take advantage of even more complex winning combos. They were rewarded with more consistent payouts and progressive jackpots.

Online Pokies Takes Over In The NinetiesHistory of Online Pokies

The nineties also set the ground for the introduction of online pokies. In 1995, online casinos started to be created and released to a public hungry for gambling at home. Poker machines followed suit and turned into a permanent presence part of the casinos' libraries. Online pokies needed less time to grow in popularity compared to their land counterparts.

The first online pokies only counted a limited number of pay lines and their graphics were pretty simple and straightforward. This soon changed once gaming developers began to improve their work and introduce animations and 3D graphics. Free spins, bonus rounds and huge progressive jackpot pools shared by several networks of casinos online were giving away millions to some very lucky players.

In 2004, Microgaming released a game called Thunderstruck. The game was special since it embraced the Aussie style in terms of pokies, now making them available to enthusiastic players online. More software providers started to release similar games soon after, and today you can access thousands of online pokies from developers like RTG, Play'n Go, Neteller, Rival, Habanero, BetSoft, IGT, Booming Games, Quickspin, iSoftBet, or Evolution Gaming.

Mobile Pokies In Australia

The history of online pokies in Australia would not be complete without a quick mention of mobile pokies. They are electronic games that can be played on all types of mobile devices and operating systems. They are either downloadable apps that are found on mobile casinos, the Apple Store, or the Play Store, or they can be played straight in the browser of a smart device, by typing in the address of the casino online.