The game used to be a favorite spectator sport in the 70s until early 80s in this country. The fascination for Jai Alai as a sport has dwindled after its alleged involvement in scandals such, as game-fixing and affiliation with organized crimes. Now the dying sport seems to mainly exist for gambling.
Legal wagering was allowed in two jai-alai frontons (building) in Manila and Mambaling area of Cebu City. Today, Jai Alai games are held at the main fronton at Sports Valley in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Live coverage of the game is available through GSAT channel 12, Solar TV channel 9 and Solar Sports Cable. Under the authority of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation was given rights to operate jai alai betting stations since 2011.
It has been reported that Meridien’s jai alai was being used as a cover for jueteng – an illegal numbers game that is also popular in the country. Another illegal betting game masiao also derive their three-number winning combination from the results of Jai Alai’s main event (special llave) results.
The game of a thousand thrills
Jai Alai, dubbed as the fastest game in the world, came from the Basque region of Spain. In the 1930s, the game’s popularity in the country started when Basque native Teodor Jauregu built the first jai alai court in Manila. The game is called pelota vasca in Spain or simply pelota but was baptized as Jai-alai (basque phrase for merry feast) when it was introduced in Cuba.
In this game, a 125g pelota (ball), made of hardened goatskin is volleyed by players wearing a long, curved basket glove called cesta. The ball is bounced off a walled court (cancha) and the cesta accelerates the ball to a high speed. The objective of the game is to throw the ball in such a way that it would be difficult for the opponent to catch and return it. The ball must be caught or returned by the player before or right after the first bounce.
Jai Alai Betting System
Legal betting at jai-alai frontons is allowed. The betting system was derived from United States’ pari-mutuel wagering, also known as toto in some countries. With this kind of system, the odds and payouts are calculated based on the number of bettors. The money for a particular bet will go to their corresponding pool independent of each other, thus the payout in one type of bet doesn’t affect the payout in another pool.
Common Bet Types
Win – placing a bet on the player or team that you think will win the match
Place – placing a bet on the player or team that you think will take the first or second place.
Show – a bet placed on the player or team that will finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
Daily Double – a bet placed by selecting the winning player or team of the first and second match. You must get the right team for two consecutive matches to win.
Quinella – selecting two teams or players that will finish 1st and 2nd regardless of the order.
Exacta – selecting two teams or players that will finish 1st and 2nd but you must get the exact order to win.
Trifecta – a bet placed on three teams that will finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd order. You must get the exact order to win.