7 Australian Pokies Facts and More [Infographic]

7- Facts of Australian Pokies
  • Australia has over 20% of the worlds gaming machines
  • There are about 200,000 pokies machines in Australia
  • 100,308 of these are found in New South Wales
  • Australia’s population is 20,264,082 – one game for every 101 people
  • 6% of adult Australians play the pokies
  • The average payout percentage of pokies is 90.89%
  • Average chance of winning the jackpot playing 1 line is 1 in 50,000,000
  • Average chance of winning the jackpot playing 20 lines is 1 in 2,500,000
  • The highest jackpot you can win in a pub is $10,000
  • Australian government collects over $4 billion in revenue from poker machines.
  • It is impossible to determine the payout percentage of a pokies just by looking at it.
  • Pokies with higher wagers usually offer bigger payouts. This is because the machine is taking in more money and can therefore afford to offer larger prizes.
  • There is no software available for purchase that allows players to “beat” online slots.
  • Around the globe, there are over 5,000 unique pokies games available.
  • Over 30,000 people are employed by companies that manufacture Pokies games.
  • Private Citizens cannot legally purchase a Pokies machine in Australia.
  • In both Australia and the United States, Pokies are the most popular form of casino gaming.

Source: Productivity Commission, Australia’s Gambling Industries and Problem Gambling Victoria

Few more Australian Pokies Facts

Poker machines were legalized in New South Wales in 1956; the ACT in 1976; Victoria and Queensland in 1991; South Australia in 1992; Tasmania in 1997; and the Northern Territory in 1998. They are banned in Western Australia, except in the casino.

There are 196,900 poker machines in Australia; 95,012 are in NSW, with a further 46,663 in Queensland and 28,860 in Victoria. In comparison, there are just 16,440 pokies in New Zealand and 97,161 in Canada.

Australia has the most poker machines per person of any country in the world (excluding gambling destinations dominated by the casino industry like Macau and Monaco), with one machine for every 114 people.

In 2013–14, Australians lost A$11 billion on poker machines in clubs and hotels. A further A$1.5 billion is estimated to have been lost on poker machines in casinos. That’s a total of around A$700 per adult per year.

Australians lose more on gambling than any other nation, mostly because of poker machines. In 2014, Australians lost more than US$1100 per capita, compared with less than US$600 in New Zealand and the US, and less than US$500 in Canada and Britain.

In 2013–14, state and territory governments raised A$3.2 billion in taxes on poker machines in clubs and hotels – that’s 5% of state-levied tax revenue.

Between 20% and 30% of Australian adults play poker machines at least once a year (except in Western Australia). The 4% who play weekly are conservatively estimated to lose an average of A$7000 to A$8000 per year.

The average poker machine in clubs and hotels makes A$56,000 per year. Some machines are much more profitable, with pokies in several venues in Victoria making more than A$200,000 each.

How much Australians lose playing pokies?

Pokies machine loss

The latest statistics published by the Queensland Treasury in the 35th edition of Australian Gambling Statistics (regarded as the authoritative source of gambling statistics in Australia) show that, in total, Australians bet more than $242 billion in 2017-18. Two. Hundred. Forty-Two. Billion. The previous year (16-17), this figure was $208 billion.

Averaged out across all 19.75 million Australians aged over 18 (based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data), this is more than $12,000 per person! Of the various forms of gambling:

  • $25.8 billion is spend on racing ($1,340 per capita)
  • $181.4 billion is spend on gaming, like casinos and the pokies ($9,419 per capita)
  • $11.6 billion on sports betting ($603 per capita) 

That’s the total amount spent: not every dollar spent on gambling is lost – that’s the whole risk-reward appeal. The same report tallied our national gambling losses at just under $25 billion – $24.88 billion to be exact. Per person that’s more than $1,260 lost to gambling every year, and a 5% increase on the figures from 2016-17. You can break these losses down into:

  • $3.5 billion on racing ($177 per person) – a 7.1% increase
  • $20.1 billion on gaming ($1,017 per person) – a 3.9% increase
  • $1.23 billion on sports betting ($62 per person) – a 16.3% increase

So the average man and woman over 18 in this country is losing $1,260 per year just on gambling. That’s $1,260 that could be going towards people’s loan repayments, mortgages, credit card bills, savings accounts, or investments. It’s an extra $1,260 that they could spend on their families or friends. Remember that there are countless people who lose well over this amount every year. Some people will be losing tens if not hundreds of thousands to the game of chance. 

Here are a few other key gambling statistics from the Australian Institute of Family Studies:

Australian Institue of  family services
  • There are 6.8 million regular gamblers in Australia – 39% of the population
  • Participation in lotteries was most common (76%), followed by instant scratch tickets (22%) and electronic gaming machines (EGMs) (21%)
  • Males are mor into gambling – 54% of gamblers are males versus 49% of the adult population
  • Gamblers generally spent around half their overall gambling outlay on a single product
  • Mean expenditure was lower among gamblers who had a university degree and lived in a house with children
  • 1.39 million Australian adults had experienced one or more gambling-related problems in 2015
  • Gamblers living in low-income households spent, on average, a much greater proportion of their household’s total disposable income on gambling than high-income households (10% vs 1%)
  • Problem gamblers in low-income households spent the greatest proportion (27%)—equivalent to four times the average yearly household utility bills

Another fun fact

NSW pokie machines made $6.5 billion in profit – that’s roughly the GDP of the entire country of Fiji. 

In 2017, the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that there were more than 200,000 active pokie machines in Australia, with 100,000 of them in NSW. You can walk into pretty much any pub or sporting club, plonk yourself down at a machine and mindlessly press a button. In Victoria, 90% of AFL teams operate their own pokies. They’re easy to access, and they’re everywhere.

Regulations on pokies in Australia

There are certain regulations on pokies in Australia. You can’t place a bet of more than $5, for example, and NSW recently put a 20% cap on new pokie machines in problem gambling areas – but they appear to have little impact. These machines also have mandatory return to player ratios: at least 85% in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, 87% in the ACT, and 87.5% in South Australia. That means that over the life of the game in South Australia (often several years) it must return at least 87.5% of the wagered amounts back to the player. So a maximum of 12.5% of the turnover is there with the gambling venues. (source: various sites and article from William Jolly)

About the author

Kamal Kaur