Nowra library was the location for a very interesting evening on 20thSeptember when the Gambling Impact Society (NSW) in conjuncion with Shoalhaven Libraries hosted an author talk and community discussion event. Author, Drew Rooke, presented some interesting reflections on the process of researching of his recently released book – One Last Spin: the power and perils of the pokies.

Drew is a freelance journalist, and this is his first book. He was a finalist in the 2015 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and his work focuses on contemporary political and cultural issues. The event was chaired by Kate Roberts, Executive Officer of the Gambling Impact Society NSW, who interviewd Drew as past of this community conversaion. Kate also outlined how the GIS had supported Drew with his research and shared some of her own academic research and experiences of the politics of poker machine gambling.

Drew read out a section of the book, evocatively describing his visit to one of the largest gambling venues in Sydney. He detailed the difficulties he experienced in gaining information from industry representatives and explained how the issues of poker machine gambling came to his attention.  Drew oulined the extensive research he undertook to discover how manufacturers use psychological knowledge and conditioning techniques to make poker machine gambling addictive and how political influence is used by industry players to maintain their markets.  Drew discussed how interviewd several people who had struggled with a gambling addicition. He described the impacts of these meetings upon himself, particulalry the impacts of gaining insights into the life of one paricular gambler who he follows in the book. He provided moving overviews of their stories, demonstrating understanding and compassion and it was evident he holds significant hopes for their future recoveries.

Drew is a sensitive and determined researcher and his work provides some valiuable considerations as to how Australia can reduce the financial and social costs of poker machine gambling.  As the book highlights, this is a very complex issue and there are entrenched barriers from industry who have been active lobbyists, hampering the implementation of policies for any real changes. Drew has presented a thorough investigation of poker machine gambling and hi sbook provides compelling information that puts the problems into a sharp focus. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how this industry has developed to its current saturation point.

One Last Spin is a well researched book and an avid read for those interested in getting behind the scenes of just how NSW has become addicted to the pokies. It provides an accessible history of pokies in NSW and insightful views of the complexities surreounding  pker machines gambling in our community. It shoud be on the reading list of evey  gambling counsellor, gambling regualator and policymaker. Drew has shone a bright light on the dark corners of NSW gambling. In raising such awareness let’s hope that substantial progress on reform follows.

For futhere details on this book see: