Are Online Pokies the Most Favoured Casino Game?

As they have around the world, online casinos have become incredibly popular in New Zealand over the last 20 years. Games that have been enjoyed in bars since 1987, or land-based casinos since 1994, have become even more popular online.

Research suggests the average New Zealander spends around $500 a year on gambling in various forms. The most popular form by far is slots or, as New Zealanders call them, “pokies”.

Of course, pokies are not the only form of gaming available to New Zealanders online today. Anything you can play in a bar, you can play online at various trusted casino sites. have listed the top licensed, secure popular casino sites that offer pokies in NZ, as well as listing the best promotions the individual sites currently have on offer.

Poker in all its various forms, including video poker, is hugely popular with online players. The additional elements of skill and social playing make poker particularly attractive to regular and experienced players.

Lotto, bingo, and keno are popular with players who like the thrill and interaction but prefer something more luck based.

Grown out of the casinos of France, Blackjack is a simpler card game to poker while retaining some skill elements. Roulette evokes the more glamorous ‘high-roller’ side of casinos, with chances to win big on every spin.

It is pokies, however, that have really captured the hearts of players in New Zealand, both online and off. Simple play with big rewards makes these games enticing, and an increasing nostalgia for the original machines adds to this.

Why “pokies”?

Away from Australia and New Zealand, most of the world knows these games as “slots” or “slot machines”. This comes simply from the fact the original physical machines had slots in which to place money to begin play.

In the UK, they are often known as “fruit machines” due to the fruit-based symbols on the rotating reels. So, what is the explanation for the change of name in New Zealand and Australia?

It’s believed “pokies” is derived from video poker; a similar game introduced at the same time as slots. Often placed side-by-side in bars and hotels, video poker came to be a catch-all term for any gaming machine.

Once any term is established in New Zealand or Australia, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes shortened. As afternoon becomes arvo and mosquito becomes mozzie, so video poker became pokie, and that’s the way it’s stayed.

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Pokies were first in bars?

Though their popularity online is now huge, pokies were only available in hotels and bars from 1987 until 2003. As they did in many other countries, offline pokies became part of New Zealand’s culture and ubiquitous in its bars.

New Zealand’s 2003 Gambling Act clarified the country’s laws on gambling and opened the door to online gaming. Though it remained illegal for domestic providers to operate online, the country’s citizens were permitted to play offshore games.

This meant that international casino providers could bring pokies online for New Zealanders, allowing the gambling industry to become more popular than ever before. While pokies in bars and hotels remain popular, players of all ages are increasingly moving online to play these games.

How has online affected pokies?

The impact online playing has had on pokies, and other casino games has been huge and varied.

  • Convenience

Playing online means you do not have to be in a physical location, you can play anywhere with internet access. Mobile technology and software has increased this further, allowing pokies to be played anytime, anywhere.

  • Inclusiveness

Many people love going to bars or hotels to play pokies, but that environment isn’t for everyone. Online means people can play where they feel safe, comfortable, and included, opening pokies up to vastly wider audiences.

  • Returns

With much lower overhead costs, online games are able to return much more of their takings to the players. This can come in the form of increased pay-outs, additional prizes, or a variety of other bonuses and incentives.

  • Choice

This is a big one, while offline pokies provide some variety, they are always limited by physical constraints and resources. Online, the only real limits to game variations are playability and imagination.

This has allowed providers to create a vast array of game choices to suit any customer. Themes, music, colours, and styles can all be adjusted, and games can collaborate with artists, celebrities, sports teams, and more.

It’s not just about appearances though, online providers can also try different variations of the game itself. Changing the number or reels, or symbols, or ways to win can create exciting new game variations.

Win bonuses and jackpots can also be added to bring new dynamics to online pokies, as can spot prizes. With all this, it’s easy to understand how online pokies have become, and continue to be, so popular.

What is the appeal of pokies?

Of course, pokies were popular even before all this additional variety and dynamic gameplay was brought in by moving online. So, what made pokies more appealing than games like poker, Blackjack, roulette, or keno?

Pokies are convenient, there’s no set up time, they are simple to play, and are the relatively low cost per game. A single spin on a pokie will be just a few cents and only takes a few seconds to play.

Pokies can also pay out big, especially online where jackpots are not limited and progressive bonuses can be featured.

Pokies are quick, easy, fun to play, and they have become a fondly thought-of part of New Zealand life. It’s easy to understand then, how pokies have become the most favored casino game in the county.