Where does the name pokies come from?

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If you’ve ever visited a casino in Australia or New Zealand, online or land-based, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the term ‘pokies’. If this has confused you, you are not alone. It is an extra local word, and the European equivalent is “slot” or “online slot”, also referred to as a casino game.

A Pokie

So we’re not talking about pokemon or healthy salad bowls, neither are we in the naughty territory. A pokie simply refers to a “slot machine”. The exact origin of the word is somewhat unclear, but the consensus seems to be that it is a shortening of the word ‘poker machine’. Especially the Australians are mad for shortening and abbreviating all kinds of words, so that makes sense.

Another (very) similar theory is that ‘poker machine’ turned to ‘pok’, which in turn got transformed to the slang word ‘pokie’.  Why a slot machine is referred to by a word for a video poker machine is unclear, but one Internet theory suggests that the poker machines came first, and when the slot machines were placed next to it, it was easier to just refer to all the machines under the same name. Online pokies have become incredibly popular with the rise of casino online in New Zealand.

So there you have it. The explanation seems to be as simple as abbreviation and slang. Either way, ‘pokie’ is a somewhat exotic phrase that sounds cool (at least to someone from Europe).

If you ever travel to New Zealand or Australia and are looking for a gambling fix, remember to act like a local and ask where you can find some pokies. Chances are they will know what ‘slots’ mean, too, but it never hurts to try to blend in when you’re travelling! 

If you’re living in New Zealand or Australia, you’re obviously already familiar with the term ‘pokie’. But don’t expect your average European or American to know the phrase if you’re out travelling. To avoid strange looks on the street, it’s probably safer to ask where you can find some ‘slot machines’. 

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