A poignant and compassionate work of literary journalism that tackles Australia’s most controversial pastime.
Almost 200,000 poker machines sing and flash in pubs, clubs, and casinos in every corner of the country. They’re highly complex devices, their components designed by mathematicians, musicians, animators, and ergonomic experts. They’re also widely considered the most harmful form of gambling, the cause of the majority of gambling addictions. So how did Australia evolve into a pokie nation?
With startlingly candid interviews from gambling addicts, politicians, manufacturers, neuroscientists, counsellors, anti-gambling campaigners, and gambling advocates, One Last Spin explores how the machines work to hook people in, and the vicious fight being waged to evict them from the country’s social life. It is a confronting tale about the human cost of addiction, of governments pandering to corporate interests, and of the insidious power of the industry’s PR spin.
‘A masterfully researched and skilfully written account of a virus that has flourished unchecked for decades. At once a page-turner, sociological study, and damning indictment, Drew Rooke has provided us with further proof — if ever it were needed — of the calamity that is the poker machine industry.’
David Leser, journalist and author of To Begin to Know: walking in the shadows of my father
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‘Early in Drew Rooke’s One Last Spin, a gambling counsellor tells him, ‘Australia has pokies the way America has guns.’ This book is an affirmation of that claim: the social harm poker machines create; the political leverage of the gambling lobby; the fallacy that pokies are somehow a force for communal good and intrinsic to some archetypal idea of Australianness. Through interviews with addicts, academics, opponents, clubs management, and industry peddlers, Rooke shows how pervasive and poisonous the situation has become — and how, learning from past defeats, the campaign to halt the march of the ‘VIP Lounge’ is gaining momentum. This is a brave and compassionate work of advocacy journalism by a fresh new voice in Australian nonfiction.’
Sam Vincent, journalist and author of Blood and Guts: dispatches from the whale wars
‘This could have been a mightily depressing book. And yet it’s not – largely because Drew Rooke makes for an amiable guide, inspiring sympathy for the people he meets.’
The Saturday Age
’One Last Spin is a meticulously researched, compelling, shocking work on journalism. Rooke moves effectively from the history of pokies in Australia to profiles of people affected by gambling addiction, and includes interviews with industry figureheads, researchers and club employees. It’s an important book concerning a problem that will hopefully continue gathering momentum as an urgent political issue.’
Hawkes Bay Weekend
‘One Last Spin gives readers an eye-opening and somewhat harrowing glance inside the world of the pokies, both from the perspective of those who play it, and those who run it, providing a comprehensive investigation into gambling-related issues in urban, suburban and regional Australia.’
Kill Your Darlings
‘I was immediately intrigued by the sad compelling nature of his book, a mixture of personal anecdote, stories of people in the grip of gambling addiction, academic research and interviews with those researching and working in the gambling industry … An eye-opening read about the insidious nature of pokies in Australia and their grip on our society.’
Julia Tsalis, Writing NSW