Meet Tom

My name is Tom Cummings; this is my place. Welcome.

When I was a young man, poker machines (aka slots or pokies) were legalised in my home state of Victoria. I had never been a gambler, hardly even a risk-taker of any kind… but shortly after gambling on the machines for the first time, just for a “bit of fun”, I became an addict. And my life changed forever.

In the years that followed I threw away tens of thousands of dollars feeding my addiction, keeping it alive while it kept me numb. I learned to lie like breathing, deceived the people closest to me, hurt my family and friends. The pain of those years – the depression, the deceit, the shame and humiliation – left me badly broken, so broken that even after I quit the pokies, I lived in a state of denial. I refused to face what I had done, what I had become. I was sleepwalking through my life.

That lasted for 10 years.

Then one day, as I neared my 40th birthday, I finally woke up. I started taking a closer look at the state of the gambling industry in Victoria, at the harm that was still being inflicted on people across the state… and I saw that nothing had changed. No, that’s not true… it had gotten worse. Much, much worse.

And I got angry.

A lot of things have happened since that day in May 2010, when I decided that I had a responsibility not only to tell my story, but to start exposing the terrible tactics and greed of the pokies industry:

I’ve written hundreds of articles, published both here on my blog and in other publications.

I’ve testified in front of the Australian Senate about what it really means to have a poker machine addiction.

I’ve spoken on talkback radio, many times, fielding questions live on air about being an addict.

I’ve connected with others like me, who had fallen under the spell of the machines and couldn’t see a way out.

I’ve made information available, FREELY available, and fought to combat the stigma and shame that society heaps upon people like me.

I’ve run for parliament, twice, representing the Greens who to this day are STILL the only party of any note to have a strong, robust and people-focused platform on gambling reform.

And I’ve joined the board of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, working with representatives from a number of organisations and walks of life to take the power back and finally do something about the incredible harm pokies are inflicting on our communities.

This is my blog; from its inception back in 2010 it has been called cyenne, which is not a great name for a gambling reform blog but meant something to me. Over the years a lot of people have become used to the gambling blog with the strange name… but now it’s time to look forward.

My name is Tom Cummings. I’m a husband and father, an IT professional, an aspiring politician, a semi-accomplished musician and on a good day, not a bad writer at all.

And yes, I’m a recovered pokies addict. I refuse to let it define me. And I will continue shining a light, fighting for reform, and doing what I can to combat this mercenary, predatory industry… for as long as I’m here.