Pub pokies

Australian pubs from the mid 1890s. Pollock was selling and exhibiting one of the pub pokies at his pub. That same year, tote machines, invented for placing bets on horse racing were also appearing in pubs and tobacco shops.

By the following year the pokies had taken hold in most Australian colonies, sitting on the bars in pubs, and and in tobacco shops, offering cigars as prizes. They were attracting a strong interest from punters. South Australia, and a number have been in use at several tobacconists’ shops and hotels in the city. The machines are clever contrivances for showing poker hands, an ordinary pack of playing cards, only smaller, being affixed to a revolving roller. A threepenny piece is placed in a slot and on the button being pressed down the cards revolve quickly and eventually show five cards. 50 for a royal flush down to one for a pair of knaves or over. The attention of the police having been called to their use, the Chief Secretary has forwarded the facts to the law officers of the Crown for their opinion as to whether the machines are an invasion of the Lottery and Gaming Act.

The licensee pleaded that the machine was in general use and was not regarded as illegal. By 1898, the authorities in most Australian colonies had come down hard on the new form of gambling. The NSW Government legislated against the use of poker machines in 1898, as did other colonial governments. The Horsham Times reported on Friday March 11 1898. Wimpole, licensee of the George Hotel, was charged with permitting an unlawful game to be played on his premises. The bench found that the game was unlawful, but in the circumstances was disinclined to impose a penalty.