Unveiling the Origins: Why Slot Machines are Called “Pokies” in Australia

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Unveiling the Origins Why Slot Machines are Called Pokies in Australia
Unveiling the Origins Why Slot Machines are Called Pokies in Australia

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If you’ve ever visited or interacted with the Australian gambling scene, you may have come across the term “pokies” used to refer to slot machines. This uniquely Australian slang has piqued the curiosity of many, prompting the question: Why are slot machines called “pokies” in Australia? In this article, we will uncover the origins and significance of this term, exploring the historical context and cultural influences that have shaped Australia’s gambling lexicon.

The Evolution of “Pokies”:

The term “pokies” is an abbreviation of “poker machines,” which were initially introduced to Australia in the 1950s. These machines were based on the traditional card game of poker and offered players the opportunity to win prizes based on the poker hand combinations they achieved. Over time, the term “poker machines” was shortened to “pokies,” becoming deeply ingrained in Australian gambling culture.

Cultural and Linguistic Influences:

The Australian penchant for abbreviating words and phrases is well-known, with many commonly used terms being truncated for convenience and efficiency. “Pokies” is a prime example of this linguistic trend, as Australians have a tendency to shorten words and add an “-ies” or “-y” suffix to create familiar and colloquial terms. This linguistic phenomenon can be observed in various aspects of Australian culture, not just in the realm of NZ gambling.

Popularity and Widespread Usage:

The term “pokies” quickly gained popularity and became the preferred way to refer to slot machines across Australia. Its usage extended beyond the gambling industry and permeated mainstream conversation, firmly establishing “pokies” as the commonly recognized term for slot machines throughout the country.

Influence of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs):

Australia has a strong affinity for electronic gaming machines (EGMs), which encompass various forms of gambling machines, including slot machines. As EGMs became more prevalent in Australian venues, the term “pokies” became closely associated with these machines. Today, it is used interchangeably with slot machines and is widely understood by Australians of all ages and backgrounds.

Societal Impact and Cultural Significance:

The popularity of “pokies” in Australia extends beyond its linguistic value. Slot machines, or “pokies,” have played a significant role in Australian society, both as a form of entertainment and a subject of debate. They have become deeply ingrained in the Australian gambling culture and have had a notable impact on the economy and communities across the country.


The term “pokies” has become an integral part of Australian gambling culture, serving as a unique and recognizable slang term for slot machines. The origins of this term can be traced back to the abbreviation of “poker machines” and the linguistic tendencies of Australians to truncate words. “Pokies” has permeated mainstream usage and reflects the country’s affinity for electronic gaming machines. This term holds cultural significance and has shaped the way Australians refer to and interact with slot machines. So, the next time you’re in Australia and hear someone mention “pokies,” you’ll now understand the fascinating history and cultural context behind this distinctive Australian slang.

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