Cantor-Fitzgerald withdrawing as financial partner in Meadowlands

Jun 14, 2011 3:07 AM

Two major surprises in the last week, both possible wrecking crews for major sports developments.

In Las Vegas, Cantor-Fitzgerald, which has been reported as supplying as much as $40 million of the $100 million needed by New York real estate magnate Jeff Gural to buy the Meadowlands from the state of New Jersey, announced it was withdrawing as a contributing financial partner, but would provide "consulting" services for Gural’s operation.

Gural needed both, the money and the innovative and fresh betting ideas of Cantor-Fitzgerald’s gaming leader, Lee Amaitis. Gural said he would plow ahead, adding more of his own fortune and finding new investors, but how long he can keep clearing the high hurdles he has been encountering is problematical.

In Illinois, meanwhile, while the state’s tracks were rejoicing and celebrating an apparent narrow victory in the state legislature in Springfield that gave them slots, the president of the Senate, Chicago Democrat John Cullerton, filed a motion to reconsider the vote.

Some optimists read the move as giving the tracks more time to make their case with the governor, Democrat Pat Quinn, who opposes the idea of expanded gaming in the state, worrying about Illinois becoming the Vegas of the Midwest.

If the Cullerton motion remains, however, for its full 60-day life, and goes back to the legislature for reconsideration, it is possible the tracks could lose all.

If they did, and do not get slots, racing in Illinois, already under heavy pressure, would unquestionably change, and not for the better. Existence for some tracks is not out of the question.