Dunedin’s Hidden Gambling Gems: Where Locals Play Pokies

Dunedin's Hidden Gambling Gems: Where Locals Play Pokies
Dunedin’s Hidden Gambling Gems: Where Locals Play Pokies

Nestled on New Zealand’s South Island, Dunedin is a city brimming with culture, history, and a lively entertainment scene.

Known for its stunning landscapes and rich heritage, this coastal city offers its residents and visitors diverse leisure activities.

Pokies in Dunedin: A Local Passion

One of the prevalent forms of entertainment in Dunedin is gambling, with slot machines commonly referred to as “pokies,” being trendy among locals.

Whether it’s the thrill of the game or the social aspect of playing, pokies have found a special place in the hearts of Dunedin’s residents.

Preview of Dunedin’s Hidden Gambling Gems

In this blog, we will delve into Dunedin’s hidden gambling gems. Beyond the well-known establishments, we’ll uncover the lesser-known spots where locals gather to try their luck on the pokie machines.

From cozy pubs to beachside venues, horse racing tracks, and more, you’ll discover the diverse range of places where Dunedin locals play pokies while enjoying each location’s unique charm.

Dunedin Casino, known for its elegance and entertainment, is a prominent gambling establishment in the heart of Dunedin, New Zealand.

Here’s an overview of the casino, its history, location, gaming options, and unique features:

History and Location

Dunedin Casino is in the historic Southern Cross Hotel building, dating back to the late 19th century. The casino is located at 118 High Street, Dunedin, within easy reach of the city’s major attractions, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Its location in a beautifully restored heritage building adds to its charm and character.

Gaming Options

Dunedin Casino offers a wide range of gaming options to cater to various interests and preferences:

Table Games

The casino features classic table games such as blackjack, roulette, poker, baccarat, and more. Skilled dealers oversee these games, creating an immersive and authentic casino experience.

Electronic Gaming Machines (Pokies)

Dunedin Casino also boasts a selection of electronic gaming machines, commonly called “pokies” (short for poker machines).

These machines offer diverse themed games and betting options, making them accessible to players with various budgets.

Read also: Buying and Owning a Pokie Machine

Poker Room

Poker enthusiasts can enjoy a dedicated poker room to participate in cash games and tournaments. Games are suitable for all skill levels, whether you’re a novice or an experienced player.

Also read: 10 Hacks for Winning Online Poker.

Unique Features and Experiences

Dunedin Casino distinguishes itself through several unique features and experiences:

  • Elegant Ambiance: The casino is known for its sophisticated and stylish atmosphere, combining modern amenities with the historic charm of its building. Guests can enjoy an upscale gaming experience in a visually appealing setting.
  • Dining and Entertainment: Besides gaming, Dunedin Casino offers excellent dining options and live entertainment. The Grand Bar and Café serves delicious meals and refreshing beverages, making it an ideal place to unwind. The casino also hosts various events and live performances for added entertainment.
  • VIP Gaming: Dunedin Casino provides exclusive VIP gaming areas for high rollers and discerning players. These areas offer personalized service and higher betting limits for those seeking a more exclusive casino experience.
  • Promotions and Rewards: The casino often runs promotions and loyalty programs, allowing frequent visitors to earn rewards, discounts, and special offers.
  • Support for Responsible Gaming: Like all reputable casinos, Dunedin Casino promotes responsible gaming and provides resources for those who may need assistance with gambling-related issues.

Overall, Dunedin Casino combines the thrill of gaming with the elegance of its historical setting, offering visitors a unique and enjoyable entertainment experience in Dunedin, New Zealand.

1. The Kensington Tavern: A Local Favorite

The Kensington Tavern: A Local Favorite -Dunedin's Hidden Gambling Gems
The Kensington Tavern: A Local Favorite

The Kensington Tavern, often affectionately referred to simply as “The Kenso,” holds a special place in the hearts of Dunedin residents and visitors alike.

Nestled in the charming suburb of Kensington, this beloved pub has become an integral part of the local culture and community.

Let’s explore the significance of The Kensington Tavern, its unique ambience, and its amenities.

Ambience and Atmosphere

The Kensington Tavern is renowned for its warm and welcoming ambience. As you step inside, you’ll immediately sense the cozy, friendly atmosphere, making it a beloved local haunt.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Friendly Staff: The pub is staffed by a team of friendly and attentive individuals who go out of their way to make patrons feel at home. Whether you’re a regular or a first-time visitor, you’ll likely receive a warm greeting.
  • Traditional Pub Decor: The interior exudes a classic pub charm with wooden furnishings, vintage decor, and comfortable seating. It’s where you can settle into a cozy corner and feel at home.
  • Live Music: The Kensington Tavern often hosts live music events featuring local bands and musicians. These performances add to the lively and vibrant atmosphere, making it an excellent spot for those who love live entertainment.
  • Gaming Area: For those seeking excitement, The Kenso provides a gaming area that includes electronic gaming machines, commonly known as pokie machines. These machines offer a casual gaming experience in a relaxed pub setting.

Availability of Pokie Machines and Other Amenities

The availability of pokie machines is a notable feature of The Kensington Tavern, catering to those who enjoy a bit of gambling while socializing with friends.

However, it’s essential to note that the number of machines and specific offerings may vary over time, as regulations and policies related to gaming machines can change.

Apart from pokie machines, the Kenso offers a range of other amenities to enhance your experience:

  • Full-Service Bar: You can expect a well-stocked bar featuring a variety of beverages, including a selection of beers, wines, spirits, and non-alcoholic options.
  • Pub Food: The pub serves classic pub fare, including burgers, fish and chips, and other comfort food favourites. It’s an excellent place to grab a meal with friends or enjoy casual dining.
  • Sports Viewing: The Kensington Tavern often screens live sports events, making it a gathering spot for enthusiasts who want to catch a game with like-minded fans.

In summary, The Kensington Tavern is more than just a local pub; it’s a cherished community hub in Dunedin.

Its welcoming atmosphere, live entertainment, pokie machines, and other amenities make it a popular destination for those seeking a relaxed and enjoyable time with friends and neighbours.

2. Ocean Beach Hotel: Gaming by the Sea

Ocean Beach Hotel: Gaming by the Sea- Dunedin's Hidden Gambling Gems
Ocean Beach Hotel: Gaming by the Sea

Location Near St. Clair Beach, this Ocean Beach Hotel is a unique establishment near the beautiful St. Clair Beach, offering patrons a distinctive combination of beachside relaxation and gaming entertainment.

Located in St. Clair, a picturesque coastal suburb of Dunedin, New Zealand, the hotel enjoys a prime location overlooking the stunning Pacific Ocean.

Connection Between the Hotel, the Beach, and Gambling

The Ocean Beach Hotel thrives on the symbiotic relationship between its seaside setting, the hotel itself, and the gaming opportunities it provides. Here’s how these elements come together:

  • Seaside Setting: St. Clair Beach is renowned for its pristine golden sands and captivating ocean views. Visitors to the Ocean Beach Hotel can revel in the beach’s scenic beauty just steps away. The hotel’s location makes it a popular choice for those seeking a coastal escape and a chance to unwind by the sea.
  • Gaming Experience: While the beach is undoubtedly the hotel’s main attraction, it also offers a gaming experience that adds an extra layer of entertainment. The hotel features electronic gaming machines, commonly called pokie machines, allowing guests to try their luck while enjoying the coastal ambience. These machines provide a casual gaming option in a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.

Pokie Offerings and Beachside Experiences

The Ocean Beach Hotel provides a range of pokie offerings to cater to the preferences of its patrons:

  • Electronic Gaming Machines (Pokies): The hotel features a selection of pokie machines, each offering various games and betting options. Whether you are a novice or a player, you can find machines that suit your gaming style.
  • Beachside Experiences: The seamless integration of beachside experiences with gaming sets the Ocean Beach Hotel apart. After trying their luck on the pokies, guests can step outside to enjoy the breathtaking views and activities that St. Clair Beach offers. This includes beachcombing, swimming, surfing, or simply lounging on the sandy shores. The hotel’s location perfectly combines gaming with the beach’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation.
  • Dining and Refreshments: The Ocean Beach Hotel also boasts a restaurant and bar where visitors can savour delicious meals, seafood specialties, and a variety of beverages, including local wines and craft beers. It’s an ideal spot to unwind and recharge after a day at the beach or a gaming session.

In conclusion, the Ocean Beach Hotel is a unique establishment where gaming meets the sea. Its proximity to St. Clair Beach allows guests to enjoy both electronic gaming entertainment and the coast’s natural beauty, making it a one-of-a-kind destination in Dunedin for those seeking a blend of leisure and gaming experiences.

3. Forbury Park Raceway: Where Racing Meets Gaming

Dunedin's Hidden Gambling Gems
Forbury Park Raceway: Where Racing Meets Gaming

Dual Appeal of Horse Racing and Gambling

Forbury Park Raceway is a unique entertainment venue in Dunedin, New Zealand, that combines the thrill of harness horse racing with the excitement of gambling.

This dual appeal makes Forbury Park Raceway a popular destination for racing enthusiasts and those seeking gaming entertainment.

Here’s a closer look at its offerings:

  • Horse Racing: At its core, Forbury Park Raceway is a renowned harness racing track. The venue hosts regular harness racing events, attracting regional horse racing fans. These events showcase the skill and speed of trotting and pacing horses, creating an electrifying atmosphere for spectators.
  • Gambling Facilities: In addition to horse racing, Forbury Park Raceway offers various gaming facilities, including electronic gaming machines, often called pokie machines. These machines allow patrons to try their luck and enjoy gaming entertainment between or after races.

Types of Pokie Machines

The gaming facilities at Forbury Park Raceway typically feature a variety of pokie machines, each offering different games and betting options.

These electronic gaming machines cater to diverse preferences and gaming styles, making them accessible to a wide audience. While the specific pokie offerings may vary over time, they often include:

  • Classic Pokies are traditional slot machines with three or more reels and simple gameplay.
  • Video Pokies: Video slot machines feature more advanced graphics, animations, and bonus rounds, enhancing the gaming experience.
  • Progressive Jackpot Pokies: Some machines may offer progressive jackpots, where the potential winnings grow with each play until a lucky player hits the jackpot.

Events and Special Occasions

Forbury Park Raceway frequently hosts special events and occasions that celebrate both racing and gaming:

  • Race Nights: The raceway schedules regular race nights, often featuring themed events, unique races, and promotions. These evenings provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience the excitement of harness racing while enjoying gaming entertainment.
  • Gaming Promotions: Gaming facilities may offer promotions and special offers for patrons, such as bonus credits, free spins, or themed gaming nights.
  • Hospitality and Dining: Forbury Park Raceway offers a range of hospitality options, including dining packages and private suites, allowing guests to enjoy a premium racing and gaming experience.
  • Corporate Events: The venue is also a popular choice for corporate gatherings, conferences, and private events, offering a unique blend of racing and gaming entertainment for attendees.

Finally, Forbury Park Raceway is a distinctive entertainment venue in Dunedin, where the worlds of horse racing and gaming converge.

Whether you’re a racing enthusiast or a gaming lover, this venue provides a dynamic and engaging experience. It features various pokie machines and special events celebrating racing and gambling.

4. Mosgiel Memorial RSA: A Community Hub

Mosgiel Memorial RSA: A Community Hub
Mosgiel Memorial RSA: A Community Hub

The Mosgiel Memorial Returned and Services Association (RSA) is a community-focused organization in Mosgiel, a suburb of Dunedin, New Zealand.

The RSA has a rich history of serving veterans, their families, and the wider community. It plays a pivotal role in honouring and supporting those who have served in the armed forces.

Let’s delve into its community focus, the availability of pokie machines, and the social aspects and events hosted by the RSA.

Community Focus

The Mosgiel Memorial RSA is deeply rooted in the local community and is committed to several core principles:

Support for Veterans: The RSA provides support and services to veterans, including welfare assistance, advocacy, and camaraderie. It’s where veterans can connect with others who understand their experiences.

Community Engagement: Beyond its veterans’ focus, the RSA actively engages with the wider community. It serves as a hub for various social and recreational activities that unite people from all walks of life.

Availability of Pokies

Like many clubs and organizations in New Zealand, the RSA often offers electronic gaming machines, known as pokie machines, as a source of entertainment and fundraising.

These machines are typically available for RSA members and guests visiting the club.

  • Pokie Machines: The RSA may have a gaming area with a selection of pokie machines, each offering different games and betting options. The revenue generated from these machines often goes toward supporting the RSA’s charitable and community initiatives.
  • Membership Benefits: RSA members often enjoy special privileges, including discounts and access to gaming facilities. Becoming a member can provide additional incentives for frequent RSA members.

Social Aspects and Events

The Mosgiel Memorial RSA is known for its vibrant social scene and the wide range of events it hosts throughout the year. These events help foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among members and guests:

  • Live Entertainment: The RSA often features live entertainment, including musical performances, quiz nights, and themed parties. These events create a lively and enjoyable atmosphere for attendees.
  • Anzac Day and Remembrance Services: The RSA significantly commemorates Anzac Day and other remembrance events. It organizes services and activities to honour veterans and remember those who have served their country.
  • Community Fundraisers: The RSA hosts fundraisers and charity events benefiting local causes and organizations. These events exemplify the RSA’s commitment to giving back to the community.
  • Sports and Recreational Activities: Besides gaming and social events, the RSA may organize sports tournaments and recreational activities catering to various interests.

In summary, the Mosgiel Memorial RSA serves as a community hub in Mosgiel, strongly focusing on veterans’ support and community engagement.

While it offers pokie machines as entertainment, it also hosts various social events and activities that unite people and contribute to the area’s sense of community.

5. Local Bars and Clubs: Hidden Pokie Spots

Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin, New Zealand, offers a variety of local bars and clubs where you can enjoy a casual pokie experience and a unique atmosphere. Here are a few options:

1. Albar:

Pokie Offerings: Albar features a selection of pokie machines for gaming enthusiasts.

Atmosphere: Albar is known for its laid-back and friendly atmosphere. It’s a cozy spot where you can relax with friends, enjoy a drink, and try your luck on the pokies.

2. The Bog Irish Bar:

Pokie Offerings: The Bog Irish Bar typically offers a few pokie machines to complement its traditional Irish pub setting.

Atmosphere: This bar provides an authentic Irish pub experience with live music, hearty food, and a welcoming ambience. It’s a great place to unwind and play pokies in a social setting.

3. The Terrace Sports Bar:

Pokie Offerings: The Terrace Sports Bar often has pokie machines for those looking to mix gaming with sports viewing.

Atmosphere: As a sports bar, The Terrace is ideal for catching your favourite games on big screens. It offers a lively and sports-oriented atmosphere, perfect for sports enthusiasts who enjoy gaming.

4. The Kensington Tavern (The Kenso):

  • Pokie Offerings: The Kensington Tavern, known as “The Kenso,” provides pokie machines for guests seeking gaming entertainment.
  • Atmosphere: The Kenso has a warm and friendly atmosphere, making it a favourite among locals. It’s a great place to socialize, enjoy live music, and have fun on the pokies.

5. Captain Cook Tavern:

  • Pokie Offerings: Captain Cook Tavern often features pokie machines for patrons to enjoy.
  • Atmosphere: This tavern is vibrant and energetic, especially during live music performances and events. It’s a fantastic choice for those looking to combine gaming with entertainment.

6. Emerson’s Taproom:

Pokie Offerings: While primarily known for its craft beer, Emerson’s Taproom may have a few pokie machines for added entertainment.

Atmosphere: This taproom offers craft beer enthusiasts a unique and contemporary setting. It’s a more relaxed option for those who want to try their luck on the pokies in a brewery environment.

Recommendations for a Casual Pokie Experience

If you’re seeking a casual pokie experience in Dunedin, consider the following tips:

  • Check Opening Hours: The opening hours of the bars and clubs you plan to visit may vary.
  • Explore Different Atmospheres: Dunedin’s bars and clubs offer diverse atmospheres, from traditional pubs to sports bars. Choose the one that aligns with your preferences for a complete experience.
  • Drink Responsibly: If you enjoy alcoholic beverages while gaming, do so responsibly and know your limits.
  • Enjoy the Local Scene: Socialize with locals and fellow patrons. These venues often foster a sense of community.
  • Stay Informed: Be aware of local gaming regulations and policies regarding pokie machines.

Remember that gaming should be a form of entertainment, and it’s important to gamble responsibly. Enjoy your casual pokie experience while savouring the unique vibes that Dunedin’s local bars and clubs have to offer.

Online Gambling: Convenience and Variety

Playing Pokies Online Through Licensed Platforms: In today’s digital age, playing Pokies online through licensed platforms has become a popular form of entertainment and gambling.

These online platforms offer various electronic gaming machines, or pokies, to cater to multiple preferences.

Find out: Is Online Gambling Legal In New Zealand?

Here’s an overview of the benefits of online gambling and tips for responsible play.

Seeking Help:

If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling-related issues, don’t hesitate to seek help. Some dedicated organizations and helplines provide support and assistance:

Gambling Helpline New Zealand:

Remember, responsible gambling is a choice that ensures gambling remains a form of entertainment rather than a source of harm. By setting limits, monitoring your behavior, and seeking help when needed, you can enjoy gambling while protecting your financial and emotional well-being.


In Dunedin, New Zealand, a diverse and vibrant pokie scene awaits those seeking entertainment and gaming excitement. Here are the key points and hidden gambling gems you’ve learned about:

  • Dunedin Casino is an elegant establishment with a rich history. It offers a range of gaming options in a historic setting.
  • The Kensington Tavern: A beloved local pub where you can enjoy pokies in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
  • Ocean Beach Hotel: A seaside venue that combines gaming with the natural beauty of St. Clair Beach.
  • Forbury Park Raceway: A unique destination where harness horse racing and gaming entertainment converge.
  • Mosgiel Memorial RSA: A community-focused hub offering pokies, veterans’ support, and a vibrant social scene.
  • Local Bars and Clubs: Dunedin has various bars and clubs, each offering a distinctive atmosphere and pokie gaming experience.
  • Online Gambling: The convenience and variety of online pokie gaming, with a reminder to gamble responsibly.

Responsible Exploration: As you explore these venues and indulge in gaming entertainment, remember the importance of responsible gambling. Set limits, be mindful of your behaviour, and seek help if you or someone you know encounters gambling-related issues.

Beyond its veterans’ focus, the RSA actively engages with the wider community. It serves as a hub for various social and recreational activities that unite people from all walks of life.


Where are Dunedin’s best places to play pokies?

There are many casinos and pubs in Dunedin where you can play pokies. However, some of the best places to play pokies, according to locals, include:

The Casino: This is the largest casino in Dunedin and offers various poker machines, other table games and a poker room.

The Grand Hotel: This pub is located in the heart of Dunedin and has many poker machines and other gaming options.

The Southern Belle: This pub is located in the southern suburbs of Dunedin and is known for its friendly atmosphere and selection of pokies machines.

The Speight’s Brewery: This brewery offers a variety of tours and tastings, as well as a selection of pokies machines.

Related Read:

8 Most Popular Pokies in Christchurch City

About the author

Mamta Sharma

Mamta Sharma

Mamta Sharma is an influential figure in the realm of online gaming in New Zealand. With over eight years of expertise, she holds a prominent position as a content strategist at PokiesMobile NZ.

Mamta's journey, starting from the bustling streets of Mumbai to the serene landscapes of New Zealand, has given her a unique perspective on the world of online casinos.

Outside the virtual casino environment, Mamta is a also yoga practitioner and an advocate for holistic wellness.