By Stephen Mayne, passionate anti-gaming campaigner

inability to say no has always been a personal weakness, but until 10am
this morning I was still in a state of disbelief after agreeing at very
short notice to MC a Securities Institute of Australia lunch at PBL’s
Crown Casino today where Tattersall’s CEO Duncan Fisher is spruiking
the forthcoming $2 billion float of this evil gaming behemoth.

charming SIA caller caught me on the mobile yesterday afternoon, saying
they needed an MC and wanted to spice up the lunch. Stuck in a toilet
and running late for the next session of yesterday’s media conference,
it was easier just to say yes and ask for an email explaining what is

Alas, just as the suit was being pulled on this
morning, the call came through saying there had been a change of plans
and the regional director of the Securities Institute would MC the
lunch instead. Thank God and one can only presume that Tattersall’s
spat the dummy on hearing their biggest critic was to MC today’s lunch.

Tattersall’s float has closed early and the price will almost certainly
be set at $2.90, the top of the indicative range in the prospectus.
Crikey was all set to fire off some tricky questions but that will have
to wait for the first Tattersall’s AGM.

Corporate governance at
the gaming giant is a hot issue. What does a CEO do when his own board
of trustees is suing in the Victorian Supreme Court for a $100 million

Excluding its often dangerously addicted customers,
everyone involved in Tattersall’s is a winner and they are like a
squabbling husband and wife after winning the jackpot. Even past
employees are suing for a slice of the action.

However, the
future remains unclear because there will be no more government
dependent top 100 company than Tattersall’s given that its lucrative
Victorian pokies and lotteries licences expire in 2012 and 2007,

Last time Tatt’s was in trouble with its gaming
licence was under the Kennett government in 1994. The solution then was
to hire Jeff Kennett’s close mate and gaming adviser Alister Drysdale
on a package worth $500,000 a year and Tatt’s ended up paying a
retrospective fee worth $422 million.

Given the free licence has
so far created almost $4 billion in capital value and distributions to
beneficiaires, this was dirt cheap, although the Bracks government has
tried to claw back some value through subsequent levies.