'Queen of the Nile' is the most ubiquitous and widely played poker machine in Australia. It embodies the qualities that have made electronic poker machines the main destination of the gambling dollar, reducing other forms of gambling and wagering to relatively minor status.
The 'Queen of the Nile' poker machine first appeared in 1998, more than twenty years after the introduction of electronic poker machines in the 1970s. During this time, the makers of the 'Queen of the Nile', Aristocrat, introduced numerous modifications to their design. The most significant of these was the marriage of pokies to computer games to add secondary games to the basic spin of the wheels. For example, the ability to play multiple lines, which allow players to choose the number and configuration of symbols to be gambled, and allowing players to gamble for prizes via choices of symbols. Both add an interactive element to the machine. Players can make decisions, rather than being completely in thrall of the random spin of the cards, and there is a heightened sense of anticipation. According to Len Ainsworth, the founder of Aristocrat, ''We realised that there was a huge opportunity to offer players more...they are intelligent, and want a little more stimulation than just pressing a button'.
Although there is little to distinguish the function of the 'Queen of the Nile' from that of numerous other poker machines, it has become a phenomenon of the industry. The fact that the machine is still being produced (in Mark 6 format) places it in a singular category as most poker machine designs are superseded within five years. It has also created a substantial export industry for Australian poker machine manufacturers, particularly to Asia and the US. Furthermore, on the subject of gambling addiction, counsellors argued that the 'Queen of the Nile' is 'the most popular machine turning up in gamblers' therapy'! Its appeal has also been dissected by academics, and in a rare cultural cross-over, scored a story in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend magazine.