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Why playing pokies online and offline is a very different experience


There is no doubt about it: Australia and New Zealand are both nations of gamblers. It’s estimated that around 80% of the population of both countries’ gambles on a regular basis in casinos, on the lottery, on sports and, more and more, online.

And there’s one type of gambling that is so essentially so Australasian that there’s even a name for it that’s hardly used anywhere else – and that’s the pokies.

Slang for poker machines, these games seem to provide almost everything gamblers need to enjoy them. They’re fun, easy to play and can even produce some pretty big wins if your luck’s in.

In fact, they’re so popular that the top pokie sites in 2022 have found themselves in very high demand indeed. It’s also given rise to a lively debate about the different features and benefits of the offline and online versions of these games.

Where you’ll find pokies

The history of the pokie is a long one. They were originally invented way back in the late 19th Century in California and it wasn’t long before they reached Australian shores.

One of the earliest reports was of a machine being installed in Her Majesty’s Hotel in Melbourne in 1895. It took quite a while for these new-fangled gaming machines to make their way across the Tasman Sea but, once they had, they proved to be equally popular in New Zealand too.

Today, you’ll find them almost anywhere you can imagine, in pubs and bars, restaurants and rest stops and, it goes without saying, in casinos too.

But since the 1990s they have also been increasingly available, and increasingly popular, in their online form as well.

Online v offline: what’s the difference?

The first, and most obvious difference between the two kinds of pokie is that anyone wanting to play offline is that they will need to physically move to where they can find a machine. On the other hand, online games can be played anywhere, at any time of day.

They can also be played of a wide range of devices from the traditional PC to tablets and cell phones wherever there is an internet connection available.

The second big difference is the way that you pay to play. In offline or physical games, it’s generally a question of feeding coins into the machine. But online pokies you simply load your stake money onto your casino of choice direct from a bank account and play until you need to add more deposits.

With winnings also being directly credited to your balance, it might not exactly have the excitement of a cascade of coins but it’s a lot more convenient. It also means that you don’t find yourself weighed down with your winnings jangling in your pockets.

While we’re on the subject of stake money, online pokies generally offer far greater flexibility to play for a variety of different amounts from a few cents up to a number of dollars per spin.

Not surprisingly, the modern pokie in both its offline and online form, is a far more complex kind of game than back in the day. While they are fundamentally still quite easy to play, the inclusion of bonus rounds and special features does add a level of complication.

With an offline pokie and you’ll have to pick up how to use these features when you’re playing for actual money. However, many of the best online casinos let you play for free for a certain amount of time to let you get your bearings.

Then there’s the question of choice. In pubs and bars, they may only have a few pokies on offer. Even in casinos, the floorspace available means there is only so much room for a certain number of games.

The same can’t be said for online pokies. Sites can host hundreds of different games covering all kinds of themes – and you’ll never have to wait until the one you really want to play becomes free.

What’s more, because the online casino sites don’t have the overheads of casinos including premises, staff salaries and other costs, they can afford to offer better payback rates on their games.

This is measured as something called Return To Player and is expressed as a percentage of the stake money paid back in winnings. Online, this is often as high as 96%, a figure offline machines can rarely equal.

Why online’s better all round

It all adds up to the fact that online pokies are not just different, they win out over their offline rivals in a number of ways. They’re more convenient and flexible to play and can even offer the chance of bigger pay-outs.

Plus, the competition between sites, means there are great welcome offers to be had including hundreds of free spins for new players.

What’s next?

There are also many exciting innovations just around the corner. A number of sites are experimenting with skill-based slots incorporating elements of video gaming too. And now virtual reality has fully arrived and is looking to the future, we can also expect online pokies to start taking full advantage of this immersive new technology.

This is all going to mean that the online pokies are set to pull away still further than their offline cousins. Great news for their players, but less good for the many casinos, pubs and bars that rely so heavily on their income.