It makes sense to shorten the rather lengthy poker machine into pokie. Australians are quite keen on abbreviations. Mosquito becomes mozzie, relative – rellie, and surfer – “surfie”.
Nobody knows for sure. It is a fact of life. It has always been that way. In the distant past, slots were advertised as pokies.
Theories about name origin
Around the turn of the last century, one of the first games in Australian casinos was a poker machine. With time, they started placing slot machines next to poker machines, and the former started to gain popularity. It then became easier to call all the machines in the casino “pokies”.
What about ‘puggy’?
Originally, puggy meant a monkey in Scottish. With time, it became associated with fruit machines, the most popular kind of slots. People call not only slots puggies, but also ATMs in some places. There was some kind of a connection between monkeys and an organ grinder´s machine. They were most probably near them in the past.