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Gambling is enjoyed by many in the community. Pokies venues can be fun places to visit. Gambling involves risk. Chances are that you will lose even more than you initially planned. Let’s find out Inside the Pokies.
Tatts Group operates the Tatts Pokies network and Tabcorp operates the TABARET network.
Poker machines were legalised 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.
The money profits is divided among the venue, the machine operator and the government.
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.
A poker machine is simply a computer and software that has been programmed to spin and works out if you have or haven’t won. Pokies machines use a random number generator and these determine the outcomes of the game.
The important thing to remember is that the results are truly random. The game doesn’t work on any kind of cyclical basis, and pokies machine jackpots don’t become due. Pokies don’t get hot or cold, either. They only seem to, and only then in retrospect. It’s not something you can predict, any more than you can predict with any degree of certainty what the next card will be when dealing with a deck of cards.
The casino does have an edge over the player. This is true of every casino game, in fact. The casino gets its edge using math and large numbers. Every bet on every casino game offers a lower payout than the actual odds of winning.
It usually have three reels but sometimes also have five reels. The reel is the image that spins in the front of the machine. It has multiple symbols on it, and if you line up certain combinations of symbols, you win money. The less likely it is to line up a particular set of symbols, the higher the payout on that particular combination.
For decades, these reels were literally large metal hoops, but now that pokies machines are powered by computers, they’re more often just images on a video screen. Even in the case of pokies machines with actual reels, the outcome is determined by the random number generator inside the computer.
Where those reels stop are called, naturally, “stops”. Reels can stop on a symbol or on a blank space between those symbols. On early pokies machine games, each symbol would have an equal chance of coming up, but now that computers are running the show, the odds can be convoluted. You might have a cherry on a reel that comes up on average once every 50 spins, while an orange might come up on average once every 5 spins, or any other combination you can think of.
Early pokies machines might have only had 10 stops per reel, but now it’s common to have between 30 and 50 stops per reel. The more stops you have on a reel, the easier it is to offer really large jackpots. For example, if you have a game with 10 stops on each reel, with an equal chance of landing on each stop, then your chances of winning any particular combination are 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10, or 1/1000. If you have a payout larger than 1000 units, you’re losing money on that game.
The weighting is what determines how likely a particular stop is to be picked. Suppose you have a pokies machine game with 10 symbols, but one of those symbols is special and only comes up once every 100 spins. The odds of getting 3 of that symbol are 1/100 X 1/100 X 1/100, or 1/1,000,000. You could theoretically offer a payout of $1 million on that combination and still break even over the long run.
Another symbol might be programmed to come up half the time, so your chances of hitting that symbol might be low. If that pays out at 2 to 1, the casino still makes a significant profit, but the player feels like she’s winning on a pretty regular basis.
Every modern pokies machine is designed with a par sheet that specifies the weightings for each stop on the reel, including the blanks. That par sheet makes the odds and the house edge for a pokies machine game a known quantity—for the casino. Gambling companies keep these par sheets under wraps, though, so players never really get a clear idea of what the odds, the house edge, or the payback percentage is.
Also, pokies machines have a “payback percentage”. This is a mathematical prediction of how much money the machine will “payback” over an infinite number of spins. For example, if a machine is programmed to have a 97% payback, over enough spins, the average should come close to winning $3 out of every $100 put into the machine.
It is important to know how much your credits are worth in real money. You can cash out
your credits at any time.
Read more on tips on playing pokie machines.
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