After going cold turkey on its pokies addiction, can Australia resist the urge to play again? Owen Jacques, ABC News · April 28, 2020 at 7:24 am The glitter and sparkle of Australia’s almost 200,000 poker machines have been dimmed since late March as part of coronavirus restrictions. So what happens when an entire country is forced to go cold turkey on one of its most intense addictions? Every Friday afternoon before COVID-19, Sydney city worker Sam, who asked us not to use his full name, was one of thousands who would head to the pub for a beer and a punt on the pokies. “You just go in by yourself, put a bid, sit there half an hour or 20 minutes, have a beer — done,” he said. It was a routine that followed a period of problem gambling for Sam, who said he used to pour hundreds of dollars into the pokies with each visit.