In an edited extract from One Last Spin, Drew Rooke explores one of the world’s most intense, accessible and ruinous forms of gambling: Australia’s poker machines

Tim Freedman, the lead singer of the Australian rock band The Whitlams, turns heads when he enters the Coopers hotel in Newtown, in inner Sydney. Wearing an open brown-leather jacket over a plain collared shirt, dress pants and leather shoes, he looks more like a teacher than a rock star. He has thick eyebrows, short greying hair, wrinkles beneath his brown eyes, and a thin band of stubble from ear to ear. As he takes a seat across the table by the front window, the bartender nudges his colleague and points in our direction.

Back in the 1990s, before Freedman was famous, pubs were where he spent most of his time and performed most of his music. “I essentially lived my life and conducted my career in pubs,” he says. He remembers there being live music in several venues in Sydney’s inner west every night.

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