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One of the key differences between top online casinos and brick and mortar casinos is the ability to play online pokie games from the comfort of your own home. Sure you could pop down to your local, but at the end of the day, that can be a pretty massive investment of time, especially if you just want a few pulls of the one arm bandit.
Being able to play online means all you have to do is open up a new tab on your computer, or whip your phone out of your pocket, and you’re good to go for a flutter.
No need to get in the car, no need to put on your number ones — in fact, there’s no need to do anything at all. You can be having a cuppa in your fluffy slippers if you want, there is no bouncer or dress code at an online casino.
What’s more, if you want to have a crack at a casino game on the go, being able to play mobile pokie games is a game-changer. We talk more about this later in the article, but there is no doubt that the mobile part of casino gaming has become just as popular as online.
Another thing that a lot of Kiwis don’t think about are the Return To Player (RTP) percentages. This is basically the percentage of your bets that the average player will get back from their deposit. And you guessed it, the RTP is way better with online casinos than it is with bricks and mortar casinos.
To put this into some context, most pokies have an RTP of between 93 to 98%. Most real word pokies will be around about the 90% mark, but it’s fairly common to see a decent number down toward 80%, which is a huge difference, giving the casino an incredibly high edge with these games.
Finally, you can’t underestimate the rate at which new online pokie games pop up. Because online games don’t need to worry about manufacturing and shipping the physical gaming units out to casinos, they can pump out an astounding amount of innovation in the form of new games.
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In the last few years, online pokie games have just been absolutely blasting it in terms coming up with different styles of games. So it makes sense then that pokie games come in all shapes and sizes — so it’s important to know which ones to look out for and which ones are going to best suit your style of play.
Branded pokies are now some of the most popular games that you can play online. These are the games that are attached to the likes of movies, TV shows, game shows, sports teams, and any other brand you can think of.
Honestly, you would be surprised at the amount of household names that are attached to what you thought was just a little game of pokies. Online pokies are now a worldwide sensation, so all of the big brands and franchises are hopping onboard. You’ll probably also find that branded titles are a little more polished than your average video pokie. There are a couple of reasons why.
The first is that the budget to make the pokie is often higher given that they’ve got the financial backing of a successful brand behind them. This means that they can push technologies and therefore create more immersive games. Next, branded games need to be of a certain standard as they need to be reflective of the brand. For example, if you’ve got a pokie called “Jewels” which is rubbish, then people will just avoid the game and think nothing much of it.
However, if that same rubbish game is called Monopoly, then people will associate this rubbish game with the brand of Monopoly, damaging Monopoly’s reputations — so you bet Monopoly isn’t going to put its name next to any average pokie game. Standout branded pokie games include The Dark Knight, The Simpsons, Batman, Scarface, Jumanji and Jimi Hendrix Online Pokie.
Video pokies are pretty much the “bread and butter” of online pokies. The majority of games that you will see online are video pokies. They’ve been around for ages, they’re reliable for a good bit of fun.
These games often come with features such as pay lines, pokies bonus rounds, side games, great graphics, and even mini-games. Basically, they’ve taken the classic pokie game formula, and then applied modern-day technology to make them more immersive and more exciting to play.
Games are going to range in terms of RTP and gameplay, which makes them exciting for both players and developers. Standout games include Gonzo's Quest, Starburst, Dead or Alive and Twin Spin.
The jackpot games are the big money pokies. This is where you can win actual, life-changing sums of money from just a simple spin of the wheel. As a result, they are often the most popular variety of online pokie game. Again, you’re probably starting to see why online pokies are now so bloody popular!
Now in saying that, there can be a bit of confusion about how these big jackpots work, and that’s because there are two types of jackpot games — standard and progressive. If it sounds a bit tricky, bear with us, we’ll suss it out together!
Your standard jackpot game is one that is usually hosted by either the casino or the software developer. They’ll set up a jackpot for that game and this will be triggered when the player hits the winnings combination. Once won, the jackpot is restarted, and the game plays out again. So a standard jackpot is just that — basically your bog-standard jackpot, so it’s pretty straightforward.
A progressive jackpot on the other hand, continues to rise the more players play the game. The game takes a small cut of every spin that is made, and this sum goes into the jackpot. These progressive jackpot games create the biggest jackpot games, and this is because they are often hosted by the game developer. This allows the jackpot to grow across multiple casinos via the same game, massively increasing exposure and therefore, increasing the jackpots on offer. Yeah, they are a bit harder to win, but boy oh boy do progressive jackpots get big!
Shoutout to some over favourite progressive jackpot games like Mega Moolah, Major Millions, Mega Fortune and Arabian Nights. As a general rule, it's a good idea to play at higher paying casinos when playing progressive jackpot pokies, because you want to get the biggest win possible from the biggest pot.
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The classic pokies games are almost like stripped back online pokies, and often mimic games from a bygone era, when the days were longer, and the stubbies were shorter. The games often have fewer pay lines, fewer features and generally have fewer winning combinations.
Yeah, that probably sounds pretty dull, but classic pokies are designed to remove all the “noise” that comes with video pokies, and just allow players to enjoy the simplicity of these games for what they are. It’s just some nice, chilled out fun, without some neon clown yelling in your face just to remind you that you’re playing a game of pokies.
Oh, it’s also worth noting that some of the classics can also have the highest RTP. Not bad if if you want a good chance of a win without all the shouting! Standout classic pokies include Super Nudge 6000, Break Da Bank, Double Whammy and Couch Potato.
It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to sit and trawl through thousands of online pokies just to see which is the best in the business right now. Honestly, as big as online pokies have become, that also means there can be a lot of rubbish to wade through to find the best games out there.
Well, aren’t you a lucky little punter, because the team at Gambling.com have done just that, and from our testing, we’ve come up with a mix of what we think are some of the best pokies in the business right now. The games below aren’t just all video pokies either — there is a nice mix to get your juices flowing and your eyes popping.
Without further ado and on no particular order:
We’ve spoken a couple of times in this article about game providers (AKA the software developers that make the games) and we wanted to add a little more information about that. The first thing to note is that almost all online casinos get their games from 3rd party casino software providers.
These companies create the games and then sell off the rights to the casinos. From there it’s up to the online casino to take care of the punters and make sure they have a safe and fun time. There are a couple of reasons why online casinos licence these games from 3rd party developers rather than make their own games.
The first reason is that it saves investing in the huge costs that come with game development and the research and development that comes with them. Even the simplest of games is pretty complex, and once you get into the big name branded games, you could be looking at million dollar budgets for game development. The second reason is that it’s one less job to look after. Online casinos know they can sign an agreement, often with several developers, and then the games are ready to go within their casino.
The whole online casino industry is now a highly competitive marketplace and there’s a huge emphasis on improving existing games and coming up with new, exciting titles. It’s big money for the developers, but then, the rewards are there as well if they succeed.
Let’s take a gander at the top software companies for online pokies.
One of the very best parts of getting into online pokies is that each online casino is just begging for you to play on their sites. And look, if we’re being honest, a lot of casinos are pretty much the same these days, which is down to the sheer volume that there are to choose from.
But on the plus side, because there is so much competition out there, nearly every online casino does their best to up the ante to offer you, the punter, the most attractive welcome bonuses. A welcome offer, in 99% of cases, will usually try to entice you in the form of a welcome bonus or free spins.
The amount you can claim here will depend on the casino bonus that you are eligible for. This may range in terms of the wagering requirement, the amount in your first deposit and how many deposits you want to make. Now, we can hear your BS detector going off here, and yes, you’re right — there is no such thing as free money!
A key thing to note here is that welcome bonuses and free spins are rarely as fine and fancy free as they might make it out to be. Look, we’re not saying that these welcome bonuses aren’t worth it, but at the end of the day, we want to look after our Kiwi punters, so we want to give you all the info you need so that you don’t feel ripped off.
So a welcome bonus, for example, is bonus money that is initially handed out by the casino, but for you to then withdraw the cash, you need to meet a certain criterion in terms of gameplay. These are commonly known as wagering requirements.
When you’re given a bonus, you will then be told that you need to wager through that bonus a certain number of times before you are eligible to withdraw the money. This can be anywhere between 20x and 50x the bonus amount. Wagering through basically means you have to gamble that bonus money x amount of times before you can draw out the money.
So, if you were given a bonus worth NZ$100 and the casino asked you to wager through that bonus 20x before you can withdraw, you would need to place NZ$2000 worth of wagers (20 x NZ$100) before that cash was technically yours to use as you please. You’ll also find that games will be limited when it comes to wagering. This might mean that only a percentage of every NZ$1 you wager will count towards this clearing rate. However, with online pokies, almost all bonuses will be targeted towards these games and they usually come with a 100% contribution.
Other things to look out for are the amount of time you have to clear the bonus before it expires, the games that you can play to clear the said bonus, if the clearance rate is just for the bonus amount, or the bonus and the deposit amount, and which deposit methods will be eligible to claim the offer. Free spins are a little more straightforward than most pokies bonuses. The casino will give you bonus spins for certain pokies, and then any winnings you get from this, you can usually keep.
Limitations from this offer generally include things like the maximum stake per spin, number of spins allowed, and the games that you’re able to use your free spins on. Yeah, it’s a little bit complex, but you’ll soon get the hang of it after reading their terms a few times. By the time you’ve actually chosen a casino so sign up to you, you’ll have a really good idea of how it all works, and you’ll be humming along in no time.
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The aim of the game for any casino bonus is to find the one with the lowest wagering requirements for their bonus. So basically, you want to find a bonus that asks you to bet through the least.
We reckon the standard wagering requirement is 40x, so anything less than that, and you’re doing pretty well. It’s not unheard of though to have wagering requirements of only 25x, so there are good deals out there. And hey, that’s what we’re here for, to hunt out the best deals in pokies!
Now, before you start looking at an online casino, you first need to work out a reasonable figure that you’re able to afford in terms of the deposit amount, and how much you’re expecting to play. You don’t need to go bananas here, just deposit what you can afford.
A good timeframe to work for in terms of how long to play for is 30 days, given that most offers expire after this time. However, weekly amounts are useful as well, with some casinos giving less than 30 days to clear their offers. If you are new to online pokies, then this is going to be tough to know straight off the bat. It’s for this reason we recommend you try and find the smallest wagering amount over the longest period.
To plan for this, decide what you want to deposit into your account, and then a rough amount that you want to wager each week. Remember, this isn’t just the amount that you will win or lose, as games will balance out the more you play. Once you have a rough idea, it’s time to bonus hunt. Check for the casinos that have a high deposit amount, a long clearance time-frame and a low wagering amount.
What are good numbers, we hear you ask? Well, any timeframe over 30 days is pretty good for a casino bonus. Any bonus that is a 100% match or better is good value, and you can target money worth NZ$100 or more for this. The amount wagered is a key area to check. Anywhere around the 30x mark is good, and lower is really good. However, it’s key that you find out if this number includes both your deposit and your bonus, or just one of these.
You want to avoid casino bonuses that include both as it’s twice as much money that you need to clear to get your bonus, and that will take you ages. Finally, you need to check the games that contribute to clearing the bonus. Most have pokies as a 100% contribution, but it’s worth checking, just to make sure.
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Lots of game developers and casinos offer free games that you’re able to play online with no obligation. We know that there can be plenty of skepticism with online gaming, but really, they are free to play.
These free games are designed to be a “try before you buy” type of deal, and we totally recommend you have a crack at them to see if you like the game. It will also help you get to grips with the rules of that particular pokies game, and help you figure out how it will work in terms of pay lines and bonus offer features.
Again, these games really are free, and there should be nothing needed like your credit card or a promise of your firstborn. It’s all above board, but do use common sense if you find something that is outside of our recommended games.
As the world slowly moves more and more towards mobile, casino games are now starting to follow suit (a bit of casino humour for you there). Lots of games are now developed with a mobile-first approach in mind, meaning that they are designed for the smaller screen and then adapted to online afterwards.
However, of the thousands of games that are live across hundreds of online casinos, the majority of these games are designed for the online platform. This is really just because the computer came before the mobile phone, so there are way more games that are designed for the computer than the mobile phone.
So to allow for the mass migration of these games from the computer to the mobile device, a platform called HTML 5 was created. Without getting too deep into the weeds, HTML 5 is a coding platform that has allowed websites, games, casinos, and now pokies to be fluid between online and mobile devices. It means that a program can be developed for one particular platform (e.g. Windows computers) and then still be able to be accessed on a multitude of devices.
All this means, is that a pokies player is now able to play games on iOS, Android, or any other mobile platform. The games, for the most part, have been beautifully moved across and can render to fit any screen size or resolution, so you don’t have to do anything special to make it work.
As a pokie player, you’ve got several ways that you can access these mobile casino games. The most common is downloading the casino's dedicated mobile app and the alternative is to access via your smartphone, which gives a mobile-friendly version of the casino.
Honestly though for our money, you probably won’t get much more value out of downloading the app. Just playing through your phone or tablet’s browser still offers a pretty sweet pokies experience. Your miles might vary though, so have a play around and see what suits you.
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Pokies tournaments are a relatively new feature to online casino games, and we reckon they are still very much undervalued within the gaming community. The concept is as the name suggests, a tournament of online pokies, rewarding players for being able to play through a set amount of coins in the fastest time.
Even though the concept sounds easy, it’s harder than it looks, which in turn adds a bit of skill to the games. There are also variations in terms of the games, prize pools, and timeframes of each of the Casino Tournament that you can enter.
The number of casinos that are including this game type is growing in New Zealand. Mr Green is one of the biggest and best, and their Reel Thrill Pokies tournaments is a good example of how it all works.
To enter this all you need to do is play on the Reel Thrill games by playing any real money pokies from within that game series. Once in, the game will then take your percentage of profit from your 20 spins and then combine this into a score. While you’re playing, you can see the live leaderboard and the winner after 20 extra spins will be the player with the highest number of points.
The game will reset every 15 minutes and you’re free to come and go as you wish. The top 5 places on the leaderboard will then be eligible for a cash prize, which will be applied straight to their account. Mr Green isn’t the only casino that’s offering these game types either — others include Unibet, BGO, 32Red, Paddy Power, William Hill, and many more. As we said, tournament style pokies might be new, but they are getting big!
The games often differ based on the number of spins that can be made within a certain timeframe or, like the example above, the highest percentage won by an individual player. They use percentages to allow players of all bankrolls to enter here and keep it on a level playing field. Prizes are also going to vary here too. Some of the bigger tournaments can include things like cruises, 5 star holidays, gadgets, cars, tech, bonuses, and cold hard cash. You will find they are also used to promote new games in their casino and get a bit of buzz created around it.
If you only look for one stat from an online pokie, make sure it’s the games payout percentage. This is often referred to in the industry as the RTP (Return to Player).
In layman’s terms, this is the amount of money that is paid out per NZ$1 that is invested. So, if you put NZ$1 into a pokie machine with a 97% RTP, then you can expect to get 97 cents of that NZ$1 back.
As you can imagine, things aren’t always as straightforward as that, so we need to take into consideration what is called “variance”. This means that events occur that are contrary to the mathematical route. For example, the odds of flipping a coin are 50% chance for heads and 50% chance for tails. But, the possibility of flipping heads 10 times in a row is very plausible given it’s a low sample size.
The more you flip, the more even the results will be, so you’re then going to reduce the variance for that bet. Pokies work in pretty much the same way. If for every single NZ$1 we put into the pokie we only got back 97 cents, then no one would ever play. People play for the variance in the hope of having a cracker run, and win more than they invested. So really, the variance is the punter’s friend.
As a player, we want to be looking to take the highest RTP possible. Most only pokies range somewhere between 92% and 98% RTP. The higher the RTP, the more it’s going to give back to the player.
Some online pokies allow you to change variables in the game, which in turn affect the RTP for that game. Things like the pay lines and even the stakes can change a game’s RTP. This is a perfectly legal feature, and once you get the hang of it, it’s a great way to tweak your preferences of risk versus reward.
At Gambling.com we include the RTP for every pokie and progressive pokie that we review. This is such an important stat that it’s imperative we do not leave it out and you, as the player, are aware of the style of game you are playing. We want to give you the best crack possible, so it’s our job to give you the latest and most up to date info on this sort of stuff.
Just as a final note on this, the lower RTP games don’t always mean they are rubbish games. It just means they offer a different game style than other pokies, which is why so many of them differ. If you look at progressive jackpot games, these are usually around the 93% RTP mark, which is pretty low. However, they are the only games that allow you to win millions of dollars, which is the trade-off that comes with these games. A lot of players reckon higher payout casinos are always more preferable to play at when taking into account the huge figures up for grabs.
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*Casino payout rates are subject to change and provided by the operator via their own websites, they are correct at the time of publish and will be updated from time to time.
Online pokies sites have come a long way over the last decade or so, and one of the biggest innovations has been the number of ways that you can get your money in, and most importantly, out of the casino.
We are relatively lucky in that the typical New Zealand pokie site covers the major payment providers such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Apple Pay and even bank transfer. We may not get all of the payment options that the Europeans get, but what we do have is safe, fast, and secure.
Choosing your payment provider is never an easy task though — there are lots to choose from and each has its pros and cons.
A good bit of advice that we like to offer is to keep a separate payment account for your online pokies play from your main bank account. This means that you can track any transactions easily, but also move about from casino to casino chasing the best games and promotions from one single account. Any payments in and out are all gambling based and it’s a great way to perform proper bankroll management, not to mention to keep an eye on your spending if you are worried about your gambling habits.
Payment methods for New Zealand players are usually broken down into several categories:
The first of those is bank cards. These come in the form of Visa, MasterCard and Maestro. Pretty much all pokies sites will accept one or all of these banking methods and they rarely come with any fees attached. Deposits will be processed instantly, and withdrawals can take between 1 to 5 working days.
We now move into the world of e-wallets, and these are some of the newer payment processing options that you can choose from. Here we have the likes of PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, and EntroPay. Now some of those may not sound like household names for Kiwis, but we can vouch for them — they are legit and will keep your hard earned money safe.
These payment options have become increasingly popular for gambling, as it’s usually the fastest way to get money out. Withdrawals can be back into your account within 24 hours and some even come with an account card attached, meaning that you can jump to an ATM and get your cash immediately if you need to.
Bank transfer is often used for payments that are large, or when you need to wire money to and from a casino. These take the longest to process as they need to be accepted by the casino and the bank, but they are often the safest method for large payments.
There are a series of other payment methods that you can access as well. These include:
Totally! All pokies will come with dedicated rules that are applied to that game. They should be easy to follow and highlight things like winnings combinations, paylines and multipliers.
We reckon the biggest progressive jackpots are the likes of Mega Moolah, Major Millions, and Arabian Nights. Each consistently has jackpots over NZ$1million and above.
We have all the latest pokies listed as they come out. We also offer a list of new pokie sites that you can claim a bonus from when you join.
RNG stands for Random Number Generator. This randomly creates an algorithm of which then proceeds the symbols being drawn for that pokie. This is a process that is governed and tested by the relevant Gambling Commission and is highly trustworthy.
There is no single pokies site that offers the best payouts. This will depend on the games that you are playing which can span across multiple sites.
Yes, you can win. You will need to have some luck, but it’s very possible to win huge sums of money from online pokies.
The best way is to read our reviews on Gambling.com. Each game is different, and our reviews will be able to highlight the game and online pokie site that best suits you.
Yes you can in New Zealand, simply check out demos here on our site, and you can play these games for free.
You need to make sure that the casino you are playing on is fully licensed by the relevant Gambling Commission. Game safety is one of their highest priorities and as a result, are most definitely not rigged.
Apply bankroll management and target games with a higher RTP.
Yes. Almost all online casinos have a mobile version, be it a downloadable app or a mobile version of their online platform.
You can find these offers throughout our site at Gambling.com. However, they are rare, so the chance to start with an online casino with bonus funds doesn’t pop up all that often.
No, free spins are almost always limited to a single game, as highlighted by the casino. Starburst is often a popular one for these types of offers.
Pokie volatility reflects the number of times a pokie pays out and the multipliers on their wins. A highly volatile pokie pays out big, but less often than a lower volatile pokie, paying smaller, but more often.
Yes, all the top pokies are fully licensed and regulated in New Zealand.
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