The Upside Down Under
Poker Machines


Australia has over 20% of the worlds gaming machines, including poker machines.

In Australia "poker machines" or "pokies" are officially termed Gaming Machines. Australian-style gaming machines frequently use video displays to simulate physical reels, usually five. These machines have additional bonusing and second-screen features such as free games and bonus levels. They also allow for multiple lines (up to 200) or multiple ways (up to 3,125) to be played.

Poker Machines
Australian punters lost nearly $23 billion last year,

In 1999 the Australian Productivity Commission reported that Australia had nearly 180,000 poker machines, more than half of which were in New South Wales. This figure represented 2.6% of all the gambling machines in the world, and on a per capita basis, Australia had roughly five times as many gaming machines as the United States. Revenue from gaming machines in pubs and clubs accounts for more than half of the $4 billion in gambling revenue collected by state governments in fiscal year 2002 – 03.

Australian punters lost nearly $23 billion last year, with a 30 per cent growth in sports betting helping to drive a continued rise in annual gambling losses.

New Australian Gambling Statistics figures show Australians lost $1241 per head in 2014-15, with poker machines still the biggest cause of punter losses with $11.6 billion lost, an increase of 4.9 per cent.

The Numbers

  • Australia has over 20% of the worlds gaming machines
  • There are close to 200,000 slot 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
  • 38.6% of adult Australians play the pokies
  • In 2003 / 2004 gamblers lost $16.21 billion ($9.1 billion on pokies)
  • It is estimated that there are over 300,000 problem gamblers
  • 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
  • The average player loses $380 dollars every year
  • The average problem gambler loses $12,000 each year

What Happens When You Press Spin

Below is a diagram showing a simplified example of a poker machine. The virtual reels have been extended out of the screen to show that they continue past the visible screen area.

Pokie Diagram

You will notice that each of the symbol positions has a different number. In our example there are 15 symbols per reel but there can be anywhere from 10 to 1,000's of symbol positions.

While the reel positions have different numbers you will find that there are more lower paying symbols on each reel than higher paying ones. For instance a low paying symbol could be in positions 2, 5, 9 and 11 on reel one.

As soon as you press spin the EPROM randomly selects five numbers - one from each reel. In the example on the right this would have been 6, 30, 38, 51 and 69.

The reels then spin and come to stop on the selected positions. You are then awarded any resulting wins and then have the option to try to double up your win. The games pay back percentage (RTP) is controlled by the symbol positioning through extensive mathematical testing.

One point to note is that the symbol positions never change and that the casino or pub cannot change the payout percentage. For this to be changed a new EPROM must be installed. Each game type can come in a variety of different payout levels.


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