Between 2013-14, poker machines in clubs and hotels were responsible for raising a massive A$3.2 billion in taxes alone.
While online play has revolutionised the gaming industry, poker machines still remain prominent among pubs and casinos across the country. With one poker machine to every 114 people in Australia, the country has more pokies per person than any other country in the world, with the exception of gambling hot spots like Monaco and Macau.
Between 20% – 30% of Australian adults play poker machines at least once a year, and while many can hit big jackpot prizes, some regular players are losing out. Thanks to the unpredictability of the machines, coupled with their fast pace and high costs, often charging around 50 dollars a time, players could stand to lose more than they wished to bet, due to having little control over the stakes.
It’s no surprise then that many players are leaving the bars to play pokies online in Australia, where there’s a greater flexibility in stakes and even the option to set bet limits.
Due to the widespread availability of pokies, Australia faces an issue with a rise in ‘problem gambling‘. Citizens there lose more on gambling than any other nation: an issue which is partly put down the popularity of pokie machines.
Coupled with other forms of betting, such as slot games for real money at high wages, the pastime gave rise to an estimated 115,000 problem gamblers in 2010, according to the Productivity Commission. These individuals accounted for a total 40% of all losses on poker machines in the country.
In a welcome move, designed to help tackle gambling addiction, gaming fans can now set a limit on how much they can bet in an online session. With around 30% of weekly poker machine users thought to be problem gamblers, the safeguards found online light the way forward for the gambling industry.
By allowing users to play online slot games or Australian pokies, among others, in a safe environment with greater control over their spending, gambling online is both safer and more popular than ever.
As well as the practical benefits to help tackle problem gambling, online gaming also has other advantages over physical pokie machines. Australians playing at online casinos can take advantage of sign up bonuses and customer rewards, which aren’t available across bars, hotels or brick and mortar casinos. These promotional deals can help reduce monetary risk, with additional funding and free games offered simply for signing up.
These websites also mean players can try their hand at different types of games, such as online slot games and bingo. This variety allows a more interesting mix of games, from slots to classic table games, and delivers a more exciting and engaging player experience.
It also means that online players can discover formats, wagers and themes that suit them better, as opposed to the limited pokie titles they may have settled for in physical establishments.
Despite a big change in the way Australians are choosing to play, their national love of pokies still remains strong, with more money than ever being generated via gambling taxes both off and online.