Why Are Pokies Called Pokies and Not Slots?

Isabella Miller | 🕒 4 minutes read
Why Are Pokies Called Pokies and Not Slots

Have you ever wondered why slot machines are referred to as “pokies”? Although the term “slot machine” may be familiar among some, many across the world are more accustomed with them being called pokies. But why? What is the origin of this unique terminology and how did it become commonplace?

In this blog post, we’ll dive into what exactly makes a pokie different from a slot machine and explore its history to understand why they’re referred to by their own specific name. Join us on our journey through time – unraveling stories about classic coins-in slots in Australian pubs, the technological advances that changed the face of gaming forever, and beyond. Hold on tight – We can’t wait for you to see where our exciting investigation takes us!

Where the pokies earned its name

The word ‘pokies’ emerged in Aussie pub culture in the late 19th century. It came from the ‘poker machines’ that often graced these locations, which were mechanical coin-in slots with poker symbols on their reels. Locals soon adopted the word as a catch-all term for slot machines in general due to their iconic association with gambling.

The term itself is derived from the term ‘poker machine.’ Aussies and Kiwis alike love to shorten words – maybe you’re heading to the pub for an arvo with your mates, drinking a cold bevo and hiding away from the mozzies? This is how we got the terms pokies, slots, pokies and online pokers.

But where did the term poker machine come from? The term has been used in advertising from back in the early 1900s, and these were the first machines that paid out coins on a winning combination – and made gambling accessible to the masses.  As time passed and technology advanced, the term started fading away from popular culture – but the word ‘pokies’ stuck around!

The Evolution of Pokies

As time went on, pokies began to evolve. In 1953, ‘Bally’ brought electro-mechanical slots into pubs and clubs around Australia. These games had faster spinning reels and larger payouts, as well as a move away from poker symbols.

In the late seventies and early eighties, video slots became the new craze. These featured individual game displays controlled by computer chips rather than physical reels. This opened up a world of new possibilities for developers to create exciting games with imaginative graphics and bonus rounds.

The 90s saw the dawn of online gambling, introducing a new generation of pokie players to a whole world of gaming. Themed games featuring 3D animations, progressive jackpots and immersive storylines quickly gained popularity with punters looking for something more than just spinning reels.

Today, we have access to online pokies in New Zealand, Australia and around the globe – with developers creating more exciting games every month.

Technological advances in gaming machines

The word ‘pokies’ remained a common term for slot machines until the late 20th century, when technological advances changed the face of gaming forever. Gaming machines began to come with more bells and whistles than ever before – video screens, 3D graphics, multiple pay lines and much more.

By the time the 80s rolled around, digital graphics had become commonplace, and they were now known as ‘video poker’ machines or simply ‘vpokies.’ Manufacturers realized that an even easier term was needed on the commercial market to refer to these casino games, so they opted for the term ‘slots.’

The term never really stuck in Australia or New Zealand, however. The term pokies have remained a part of the vernacular for centuries and will likely remain so for many more to come. If you’re traveling to America, however, you’ll most likely refer to the machines as slots.

At the end of the day, regardless of what we call them, it’s clear that pokies have come a long way since their humble beginnings in pubs and clubs across Australia. From mechanical poker machines to virtual video slots – these games are here to stay!

Other gaming slang to know from around the world

So, what other gaming terms have we learned from around the world? Do you know what a puggy is? How about a one-armed bandit? In the United Kingdom, puggy is the name given to slot machines – while in the US

‘one-armed bandits’ refers to mechanical slots that require a lever to be pulled.

In France and other parts of Europe, a machine is called un vidéo poker gratuit if it is a video poker game. In Italy, they are referred to as slot machines (macchine da gioco) – and in Japan, they go by the name Pachinko.

No matter what part of the world you’re visiting or playing in, it’s clear that there’s plenty of gaming slang to learn. No matter what you call them, pokies are sure to provide entertainment and a chance at a big win for players around

the world. So next time you’re on vacation – head to your nearest casino and try your luck on the pokies, but don’t do that before you’ve read our 8 tips for how to win on pokies.


Pokies are a big part of the culture in New Zealand and Australia. The term ‘pokie’ has been around since the 19th century, when mechanical slot machines were introduced into pubs and clubs. Since then, technological advances have changed the face of gaming forever – from video poker machines to virtual slots; these games are here to stay!

From the United Kingdom’s puggy to Japan’s Pachinko, there are plenty of different gaming terms to learn around the world. No matter what you call them, pokies are sure to provide entertainment and a chance at a big win for players around the globe. So next time you’re in a casino – why not give the pokies a try? Who knows, you might just strike it lucky.

Isabella Miller
Hello, I’m Isabella Miller the main author of the site pokiesonline.co.nz. I have a vast experience of playing pokie games at casinos around the world, and I would like to share my insights and experience with every enthusiastic kiwi out there! Over 15 years of experience with casinos around the world (especially in New Zealand), you are getting my personal best insights into the exiting world of pokies and casino games. I will be your tour guide into playing the best games, getting the best tips and even what bonuses should you look at while playing online casinos. Enjoy your time with our site, Isabella.