Awareness and prevention
Pokies, poker machines or Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) were introduced in Victoria in 1992.
All poker machines must meet specifications set by the state government which are regulated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
The number of machines in Victoria is limited to 30,000 with 2,500 of these located in Melbourne's Crown Casino. The rest are equally divided between hotels and clubs.
Poker machines are computers that use randomised mathematical programming. This means the machine will pay out prizes at random intervals, keeping a percentage of the money put into them.
In Victoria, the law stipulates that poker machines must pay back 87 per cent of the money spent on it each year, after the deductions of any special jackpots. The rest goes to the pokie owners or in tax.
Any time you play, you are likely to lose more than the 13 per cent on average. The way the pokies are programmed means your losses could be two, four or even six times this amount.
Poker machines are programmed to pay out less than you put into them, so the odds are you will lose.
The longer you play a poker machine, the more likely you are to lose all the money you have put in the machine.
When playing a game like Black Rhinos, to have a 50 per cent chance of getting five rhinos, playing one line at a time, it would take 6.7 million button presses and cost nearly $330,000.
The Real Chance of Winning
|Prize value in credits|
Chance of a prize in a single play line (including scatters)
One chance in
|More than 500 credits||10,198|
|200 to 499 credits||2,669|
|100 to 199 credits||1,458|
|50 to 99 credits||450|
|20 to 49 credits||246|
|10 to 19 credits||106|
|5 to 9 credits||53|
|1 to 4 credits||10|
Prize type in Symbol Combination
|Chance of combination occurring in a single play line|
|One chance in|
|5 of a kind||4,784|
|4 of a kind||490|
|3 of a kind|
|2 of a kind||9|
At these odds, you have to play seven games in a row to have a 50:50 chance of winning four credits.
But you have to play more than 7,000 games in a row to have the same chance of winning 500 credits.
The poker machine always has the advantage. When you're playing the pokies, the only thing you can control is you.
Poker machines are a form of entertainment that you pay to use. With their flashing lights and sound effects, the machines are designed to excite and entice.
Beneath the colourful displays however, pokies are just computer programs designed to take more money than they pay back.
The fact is, the longer you play a poker machine, the more likely it is you will lose all the money you've put in.
Here are some myths about pokies and the facts about your chances of actually winning.
FICTION: Poker machines are more likely to pay out at particular times of the day.
FACT: The result of each game is entirely random and is not affected by anything going on around you. The game has no way of knowing the amount of money the machine contains.
FICTION: You can confuse poker machines into paying out by altering play patterns.
FACT: No matter what you do, the computer program determining the result does not change. The machine responds only to you pushing the button.
FICTION: You can influence the outcome of a game by touching the machine or pushing buttons in a particular way.
FACT: The machine's buttons have only two states, on or off. No difference in approach to the pushing of the buttons will yield different results.
FICTION: You can influence the outcome of a game through concentration or positive thought.
FACT: The machine will always remain random, it cannot be convinced otherwise. The machine responds only to you pushing the button and nothing else.
FICTION: You can make up for past losses by continuing to gamble.
FACT: The result of your last game has no bearing on the result of your next game. It is illegal for poker machines in Victoria to base outcomes of games on previous outcomes. Poker machines cannot react to the frequency of wins or losses. The games operate randomly at all times no matter how many wins or losses have occurred in the past.
FICTION: Certain machines are "hotter" or "luckier" than others.
FACT: Poker machines are simply computers programmed to randomly select outcomes. While the odds may change depending on the game being played, individual machines are never "hot" or "lucky".
FICTION: A "close miss" is an indication of an upcoming win.
FACT: Every event or "spin" is random and a separate event. A near miss means as much as any other loss.
FICTION: If I'm a skilled enough gambler, I can beat the odds
FACT: Skill has no bearing on the outcome of playing the pokies. Your chance of winning when you sit down are the same as the person next to you.
FICTION: If you play long enough you will eventually win.
FACT: Pokies are random so the odds of you winning don't change. Each spin is a separate game, so winning one game won't mean you're more likely to win on the next.
The Responsible Gambling Guide (PDF - 7007 KB) provides useful information about using the pokies and how to be a responsible gambler at the pokies.
Keep track of your time and money explains how to use the Player Information Display function on pokie machines to help you understand how the machine works and how to track your use of the machine.