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Pokie Addiction

If you are living in Australia, you will know full well the influence of pokies on the culture. This extends way beyond hardcore gambling circles.

And in some cases, that habit can take on a more sinister impression.

Not only does it have the potential to wreak havoc with your finances. It also your legal standing as well mental well-being. That is a lot to spend on a gambling venture quite frankly and anyone is liable to get themselves spent.

Are Pokies so Addictive?

Here we have detailed how addiction works in the pokies scene, and what can be done to get it all under control. But first lets take a look at how many Australians actually tried gambling.

How addictive are pokies? Here is a chart with pokie addiction in australia:


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As you see gambling and especiall pokies is still very popular even though the numbers are decreasing each year.

Why would you get addicted to playing pokies?

Developing an addiction to pokies is not far off from getting addicted to any other game, it just involves its own unique assortment of contributory variables. Bottom line, the narrative stays the same, just the details tend to differ. SO let us now go into the main ones.

1. Convenience – You would be hard-pressed to find a poker machine that does not have an ATM sitting somewhere in the vicinity. And make no mistake that it is purely by design. It is how the casino ensures that even if you are running bit low on the green, there is aquick and easy fix to it that is never too far away.

It is a small leap to a gambling addiction where you cannot seem to quit till you bring home some winnings.

2. They are everywhere – Australia has some of the biggest concentrations of poker machines anywhere in the world. That means that there probably one in your local pub, casino or hotel. In fact, you can even play them online.

So if you happen to be an addict here, there are not many places that will deny you satisfaction.

3. Plenty of stimuli – After a while playing pokies, your brain will become accustomed to the sensory stimuli emitted from the machine.

Again, this is probably no accident. Most acclaimed manufacturers factor in the advice of psychologists when designing their machines to make them so irresistible to play on.

Here is another chart.


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Even though the number of gamblers is decreasing each year, the amounts that are lost are increasing.

How do you know you are addicted?

It is important not overstate the potential for developing an addiction to pokies. It is true that some have adequate control of themselves to not let their habit go out of hand. But others are more vulnerable to it.

Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

  • You are spending more and more time with the machine than with your loved ones
  • The games are becoming more routine and less fun
  • You fib about being somewhere else when actually, you are at the machine
  • Players cannot resist withdrawing more money, to try and win to claw back at the losses
  • You end up spending a lot more of your cash and time than you can actually afford
  • Pokies keep revolving in your head all the time

How do you stop a pokie addiction?

If it is becoming increasingly clear to you that your gambling habit is spiraling out of control, it is high time you took some disciplinary measures on yourself.

How do you help someone who spends all their money on pokies?

  1. To start off, seek professional help. Indeed, consulting a psychiatrist does come with taking a big gulp on your ego but they could work with you to help you regain control again.
  2. Also, support groups that meet up weekly are a great way of venting out your thoughts and feelings and finding solidarity in the company of others who bear similar struggles.
  3. You can also look for help online. Look up agencies such as Gambling Help Online and Problem Gambling which will help you with you with your addiction at absolutely no extra cost.

Pokies In Australia

This is a compilation of curious information regarding the island continent’s long-standing love affair with pokies.

They are so deeply embedded in the culture that you can never fully enjoy the pleasures of living in Australia with having a go at one.

Interesting facts you should know about pokies and Australia:

  1. Australia was actually the first nation under which pokies were legalized. The rule was passed down in 1956 in New South Wales. In 1991, it became legal in Queensland and Victoria, South Australia in the following year, Tasmania in 1997 and the Northern Territory in 1998. It still remains to be legal in Western Australia except inside the casino.
  2. Poker machines in Australia number at a colossal 196,900. 95,012 of those are to be found in New South Wales, another 46,663 can be found in Queensland, and 28,860 in Victoria. To put that into perspective, that is more than double the number of machines you would find in all of Canada which has 97,161 machines and many times over New Zealand which has 16,440 machines in total. Big as Australia may be, you will never be too far from one of its poker machines so long as they are legal where you live.
  3. Despite having a massive penchant for pokies, Australia is still only seventh on the listof countries containing the highest amount of poker machines per person. The top six are Japan, the United States, Italy, The United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany.
  4. From the year 2013 to 2014,the number of losses incurred at the poker machines in Australia’s clubs and hotels was a reported 11 billion AUD. Another 1and a half billion can be added to that figure if we count casinos in. That is an average of around $700 for each player.

Even More Facts About Pokies In Australia:

  1. Australians are known to lose way more on gambling than any other country, and much of that is due to the poker machines. While estimates from 2014 indicate that Australians have lost in excess of $1100 per capita, New Zealand and the United States have lost less than $600, Britain can Canada are even better – less than $500.
  2. Except of course in Western Australia, it is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of adults living in Australia will play on poker machines at least once on an annual basis. Just 4% are estimated to indulge on a weekly basis and lose an average of $7000 to $8000 annually.
  3. Any given poker machine used inside a club or hotel will bring in an average of $56,000 a year. Some, however, are massively more capable. In Victoria, for instance, some machines have been known to yield upwards of $200,000.
  4. Some exclusively rich names get to have their names minted by poker machines. These include James Packer, Arthur Laundy, the Farrell family, Bruce Mathieson and Len Ainsworth. All of them have an individual net worth in the hundreds of millions with Packer and Ainsworth both cracking billionaire status.

There Are Lots Of Pokies Machines in Australia

You can often find the largest concentration of poker machines in the poorest suburbs of Australia. In Western Sydney for instance, each player loses thousands of dollars on pokies while in the wealthier communities, average losses only amount to a few hundred dollars.

It is estimated that up to 30% of gamblers who play on a weekly basis are potential or confirmed problem gamblers. This excluding Western Australia of course. Since Poker machines are illegal there except in the casino, problem gambling is about a third of what it is to the rest of the island continent.

Some protective measures that are taken with poker machines aside from banning them altogether include decreasing the top of the betting range to a lower amount as well as conditioning players to quote their limit prior to gambling.

Almost as popular as poker machines are in Australia is the move to reform them. Up to 70% of people are in favor of gambling activities being more regulated and supervised while 74% agree that players should stick to the limit they quoted before playing.


So are pokies addictive? Unfortunately, it is not so straightforward. How they affect people is very much down to what kind of people they are in general. Or how susceptible they might be to an addiction.

Some players have absolutely no trouble quitting if they so wish. Some would require a little more effort but still manage to pull through. And some just cannot seem to make it on their own.

So potentially addictive is a term we would feel is more appropriate here.

As an individual, you have a responsibility to identify when your fondness for pokies is starting to be a problem. Check yourself right then and there before it becomes any more difficult.


Steve Thompson

I live in Melbourne. I have a Masters degree in Economics. I am a full-time gambler since 2007. Pokies is my favorite.

Page Updated: January 29, 2019