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Pokie Machines

In the UK we've had fruit machines for decades. In New Zealand, it's the 'pokies', or poker machines (they're never called 'slots'), that rule pubs, rugby clubs, men's clubs and casinos up and down the country.

Pokies have been around since the 1950s, but the sheer proliferation of the machines has led to New Zealand boasting more machines per head than anywhere else in the world other than Las Vegas.

Like betting shops in the UK, pokies are a part of the Kiwi DNA, and despite attempts by protest groups to have them restricted, the machines continue to grow.

Brief History of Pokies

Joe Heywood developed the first pokie to hit New Zealand soil back in 1953. 'The Clubman', invented as part of the output of the then-fledgling Aristocrat firm, set the benchmark for pokies Down Under.

The game came with multiple paylines - a first for a machine in New Zealand - and even a Scatter Pay that helped award cash prizes regardless of where the symbol fell.

The software giant, along with Ainsworth, is now one of the biggest developers of land-based and online pokies around. Their games can be found at many of the big online casinos, while even the heartland of slot machines - Las Vegas - has been open to the developer's charms.

Firms like Aristocrat continue to manufacture pokie machines for use in land-based establishments across New Zealand, despite the proliferation of newer and swankier games coming on the market. Aristocrat still enjoy a monopoly on games across the country's estimated 200,000 pokie machines. But with over 600,000 Kiwis enjoying pokies regularly, there's no shortage of punters ready to bet on their machines.

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New Zealand Pokies Laws

Pokie machine laws are governed state by state, with individual regulations changing depending on where players are.

While land-based pokies are governed by individual gambling commissions, the online games are overseen by the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act.

Although moves have been made to both liberalise the law one way and tighten it the other, currently it's illegal for pokie firms to offer games online to residents there. That doesn't, however, stop overseas casino sites allowing New Zealanders to play games on their PCs and Macs.

Some jurisdictions have begun issuing their own Internet gaming licences to offshore firms in a bid to allow them to enter the market. As a result, some of the biggest overseas online casino rooms now offer real-money pokies online to Kiwi players.

Pokies Stats

  • There are more than 200,000 pokie machines in New Zealand
  • Of the states boast more pokies per person than anywhere else on Earth (other than Nevada)
  • Players in particular parts of New Zealand lost more than AUD2.57 billion on pokies in 2014
  • New Zealander are some of the biggest gamblers in the world, losing NZD1,380 each on average
  • The biggest online pokies win is €17.8 million, won in 2013 on NetEnt's Mega Fortune slot.

Types of Pokie Machines

The biggest difference between land-based pokie machines and the range of online games is the RTP (Return to Player percentage). A minimum RTP% of around 85-87% exists in most Kiwi states, but that figure obviously jumps into the 90s when you move online.

In terms of styles, virtually every style of pokie is available to New Zealand players, just as they are to Brits in 2015.

3-Reel Pokies

The classic pokie machine, like the British fruitie, carries three reels with minimal paylines (1-3 normally) available. You'll find classic 3-reelers in pubs across New Zealand - many still with the 'one arm' attached - while many of the big online casinos also offer a range of retro 3-reel games.

5-Reel Pokies

As in the UK and elsewhere, 5-reel pokies are the biggest draw in Kiwi pokies: they have more paylines, more features like Wilds and Scatters, and more bonus rounds such as free spins, instant cash wins, and Wheels of Fortune.

7-Reel Pokies

As the name suggest, 7-reel pokies have - er - 7 reels instead of the usual three or five. They offer the chance of huge numbers of paylines and bigger prizes (but bigger outlays too).

However, some developers like WMS have 7-reel pokie machines which alter the number of rows across the game: you may have two reels of two rows followed by five reels of three rows to form a bizarre matrix of paylines.

Jackpot Pokies

With so many people playing pokie machines online, the potential jackpots can be huge. Progressive jackpots can reach millions of pounds or New Zealand dollars, with many of the biggest games reach eight figures. Check out our in-depth biggest jackpot wins page for more on progressives.

Try Pokies For Free

Whether you're looking for the best progressive jackpot pokies, classic Vegas-style 3-reel games, or standard 5-reel video slots packed with bonus features, you'll find them all at

Check out some of our game reviews and try out a game for free today. We even have links to the biggest and best online casinos offering the latest, state-of-the-art pokie machines.

However, if you are visiting from New Zealand we suggest you use our sister site Play Pokies which will be a better fit for your needs. Tell them we said G'day!

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