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Last Bets is a book about how and why, when it comes to gambling, morals and the law are irrevocably entwined.

On a Sunday evening in July 2011, 40-year-old Anthony Dunning was pinned to the floor of Melbourne's Crown casino by security staff. Four days later, he died in the intensive care unit of the Alfred Hospital. The incident was reported to the police by two friends who were with Dunning on the night—not by Crown casino. Later that week, a spokesperson for the police said that even though Crown had no legal requirement to report such incidents, 'they probably had a moral obligation' to do so. Crown casino said that its employees were just doing their job. Three months later, a young security guard was charged with manslaughter.

Michaela McGuire follows the trial, trying to make sense of the gap between ethics and the law. She speaks to problem gamblers and psychologists, a casino priest and David Walsh, Australia's most notorious gambler. Last Bets is true crime writing at its best—disturbing, gripping, and unnerving. A must-read for gamblers, the gambling industry, law makers and everyone who cares.


Through her constant probing and sharp, well thought-out observations about how the legal system handles ethically complex cases such as Dunning's death, the reader will be left similarly uneasy, pondering the same grey zones McGuire cleverly highlights.

Emily Laidlaw, The Australian

a strong example of creative nonfiction, a rich mix of facts, ideas and memoir.

The Herald Sun

McGuire skillfully illuminates a netherworld run by the powerful, where the lights are dim and there are no clocks on the wall.

John Safran

[McGuire is] an observant, intelligent narrator, and succeeds in being both empathetic and analytic in her exchanges...Last Bets is gripping true-crime writing. I found it an unnerving but rewarding read, and an important book: for the light it sheds on the Dunning case, and Australia’s gambling culture in general.

Stella Charls, Readings

a thoroughly researched but quite intimate account of a complicated social issue ... a thoughtful and enjoyable book.

Portia Lindsay, Books + Publishing

a refreshing intervention within debates about gambling that have become increasingly stale through ideological framing as contests between ‘Nanny state wowsers’—on one hand—and ‘greedy neoliberals’ on the other.

Australian Review

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    June 2, 2014

    Melbourne University Press

    192 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    June 1, 2014

    Melbourne University Press Digital

    223 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Also by Michaela McGuire

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Women of Letters
From the Heart: Women of Letters
Airmail: Women of Letters
Between Us: Women of Letters
Yours Truly: Women of Letters
A Story of Grief: Penguin Special
Sincerely: Women of Letters
Six Women of Letters: Penguin Special
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