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How Did Pokies Get Such A Hold On Us?

Australians spend and lose more money gambling across all formats than any other country in the world.  

They are responsible for more than half of Australia’s serious gambling harm. 

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NSW in particular is the home to 35 percent of the world’s pokie machines, with people losing more than $2.4 million daily to pokie machines in clubs and pubs. 

On today’s briefing, we speak to Drew Rooke, a journalist and the author of One Last Spin, in which he wrote that: “Australia has pokies the way America has guns”.  

Rooke also explains how pokies took hold of Australia and why now is the time for reform. 

The first modern pokie in the world was invented by a Bavarian-born American named Charles August Fey in San Francisco in 1899. 

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Rooke mentioned that the first pokie machine was different from the modern one we use. 

It was much smaller, much slower, and much less intense…Within a couple of years, it migrated across the pacific and had found its way to Sydney’s bars, pubs and clubs,”

Rooke said.

Pointing to the current situation in Australia, Drew said Aristocrat developed the fast, high-intensity and immersive pokie machines we know. 

Everything about the machines that Aristocrat continued to develop is geared towards keeping people playing for as long as possible, and the industry inside is secretive about that.” 

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