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Why New Zealanders Call Slot Machines Pokies

Why New Zealanders Call Slot Machines Pokies

Everybody not born and raised in New Zealand that has been lucky enough to visit the country will have had a few “Ah’s” and “Oh’s” while visiting the islands. Because, yes, New Zealanders have their own way of speaking and although it’s still English, things tend to change a bit in NZ. This even extends to casino related terms which is what a lot of our readers will be interested in. 

Some of the funniest Kiwi words can be heard in the six land based casinos operated in New Zealand found in cities like Auckland and Hamilton. If you happen to visit NZ or end up on a website aimed at players in New Zealand you will surely come across the word “pokie”, which has some closely related variants like “online pokies” or “pokie machines”. In order to give you all the details about this word, and of course, to prepare you for your next trip or visit to a NZ casino, here’s all you need to know about Kiwis and their pokies.

Where does the word “Pokie” come from?

New Zealanders like to shorten words in the same way as Americans or Canadians do. This is pretty much what happened to the definition of “pokie” as it’s actually short for “poker machine”. The funny thing about the usage in NZ and Australia is that it is used as a synonym for all sorts of gambling machines and not only the ones meant for poker players. The actual shift from poker machine to pokie is understandable if you take into account that people around the English speaking world like to shorten words. 

This clearly leads to a new question, that of why slots or slot machines are named after a poker game as these are technically not slots: were they the same thing down under? Well, no, but they sort of looked like each other according to historical images that still circulate on the internet. Even people who are not from New Zealand and Australia, where the word is also widely used, will agree on the fact that the original poker machines and slot machines looked very much alike. For this reason, slots were called pokies, just the people have difficulties distinguishing between kebab and shawarma, and vice versa. 

Even in the first commercials in the country, way back in the 1900s that is, slot machines were called pokies. Eventually the word became widespread across New Zealand and Australia. Additionally, there is a second theory that is less common, but is also aimed at explaining where the word came from. Most people will know that slots were handled by throwing coins inside. In case of a win a certain number of coins would fall out of the machine for the winner to collect. In order to get the most out of this some players would “poke’ their fingers at the machine, hence giving another explanation of the world. 

Pokies in other English speaking countries

The definition of“pokie” is also widely used in the industry of online gaming, at least among the websites, platforms, and casinos that focus on players in both NZ and Australia. Interestingly, there are currently no official legal Australian or NZ online casinos as all the websites aimed at these countries hold offshore licences, mostly in Europe, sometimes in Curaçao. Either way, New Zealanders are allowed to make their online wagers as long as they stick to websites that are operated abroad. This gives them an ideal scenario as they are not forbidden to gamble online which is still the case in many other countries. 

The United States and Canada are two of the other English speaking countries that have started to legalise online casinos and all the games that come with them, including slots, pokies or whatever they are called. Like in NZ, there are also other definitions used in other Anglophone regions that might be interesting to know. 

Most Brits will refer to this game as “fruit machines” while an American will call it a “slot machine” and a Canadian might even use “slot” or “the slots” only. People in England even have their own abbreviation for “fruit machine”, by calling it “fruitie” which makes perfect sense if you put it into perspective with what we just told you about the origin of pokies. Now, here’s a more difficult one: people from Scotland call the same thing “puggy”. 

Online pokies in New Zealand

Wherever you’re from, chances are that pokies and online pokies are very popular in your region. This particularly holds for NZ where you won’t only find them in casinos and online casinos, but also in pubs and bars. If you’re from New Zealand or happen to be there, you will have the biggest choice in cities like Auckland, Christchurch, and Hamilton as these are the places that have casinos and that lots or “heaps” of pokies, as they say in NZ. 

Online, there are a lot more options, although it will require the player to “travel abroad” as there are no NZ based online casinos available at the moment. New Zealanders are nonetheless allowed to gamble on offshore websites, giving them a rather remarkable situation as no-one prevents them from making their wagers on the internet which is a great thing as people can decide for themselves whether they want to play online or not and there is no government telling you what to do.

And in case you may not have understood, “Kiwis” are the same New Zealanders and “NZ” is often used in the country to refer to New Zealand. Did we already mention how people love to shorten words? For everyone interested in the best online casinos available for players in NZ, here is an optimised list for New Zealand, even if you stick to making online wagers. 

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