Pokies History

Pokies History

Where did it all start? In the United States of America over a century ago…

Sittman and Pitt First Gambling MachineIn 1891, Sittman and Pitt  from New York brooklyn developed a machine for gambling that would serve as the precursor to the modern slot/pokies machine. The gambling machine had five drums and was holding a total of fifty cards and the game was based on poker. It quickly became very popular in night spots around Manhattan.

Not long after, possibly in 1895, an inventor based in San Francisco, Charles Fey, devised a machine that is closest to what pokies machines have evolved into. Similar to Sittman and Pitt’s device, Fey’s machine was built with three spinning reels and it had five symbols – hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and in Fey’s case a Liberty Bell, which also gave the machine its name. To activate, the player had to drop in a coin and pull a lever. This caused the reels to spin and if three Liberty Bells stopped at the payline, you won.

These Liberty Bell machines became incredibly popular and were subsequently copied by many slot machine manufacturers. In 1907, Herbert Mills, a manufacturer from Chicago produced the Operator Bell and a year later many of these bell machines were being installed in cigar bars, saloons, bowling alleys, brothels and barber shops.

By 1963 the first electromechanical and fully slot machine was developed i was called Money Honey. Money Honey Slot Machine From Bally'sThis approach allowed for slot machines with bottomless hoppers and automatic payouts of up to 500 coins without the help of an attendant. The rising popularity of this machine led to an increasing predominance of electronic games.

In 1976 the first actual video slot machine was developed and after several cheat proofing modifications were made, it was approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission. It found enormous popularity in Las Vegas. By the 1990s, pokies or slots (as it’s known in the rest of the world) had gone online.First Video Pokies

Pokies comes to Australia

The first pokies machines appeared in Australia in the early 1900s, becoming very popular with gamblers, even though they were illegal. Poker machines or pokies were officially termed as gaming machines.

Pokies history tells us that in 1953 a company called Aristocrat recognised the potential in pokies and developed a game known as the Clubman, later to be replaced with the Clubmaster in 1955. A year later the New South Wales government took the decision to legalise gaming machines, forever changing the face of gambling in Australia.

It didn’t take long for pokies to become popular. At the time though, it was still quite basic and the jackpots were small. In the years that followed little changed. The pokies machines were still comprised of three spinning reels and one, three or five lines. Playing pokies involved pulling the handle and waiting for the reels to stop spinning, and little else. Until the mid 1980s that is! This was when video slots were taken off the production lines and released to the public.

The best pokies games now had five reels, additional lines and more ways to win like with the free spin features. New, colourful images created by graphic designers gave the games the kind of life they had never had before.

Thereafter, the 1990s saw a veritable explosion of games and added incentives. Today you can find a pokies machine almost anywhere – from pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants to your home computer.

Online pokies

The Internet has seen an unprecedented rise in the popularity of online casino games and online pokies is no exception.

Players could now start accessing games like online pokies from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. No more worrying about waiting for their favourite machine or the best pokies machines to open up, and no more worrying about closing times. Online pokies enthusiasts could now play whenever and wherever they wanted, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.


Pokies history shows no documented evidence of when the term “pokies” was first used. That said it has become the standard term for video slots in Australia. The term appears to have come about because when these machines were in pubs and clubs they were known as poker machines. Players in Australia started to use the slang term “pokies”, but in the rest of the world people prefer to call them slot or slot machines.