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Jai alai

Jai-Alai means "Merry Festival" in the Basque language. The term is used to denote a fronton (or open-walled arena) used to play a variety of Pelota called Cesta Punta, and, more broadly, to the game itself. The game is characterized by the fast pace of play, in which a 125g. ball (or pelota) covered with parchment skin can travel faster than 180 mph. The ball is placed into play and volleyed by players wearing a wicker basket glove approximately 63 to 70 cm long.

The game of jai-alai is popular in countries such as France, Spain and Mexico where, in some regions, the game is played in almost every town and city. In the United States, jai-alai enjoyed a brief period of popularity as a gambling alternative to horse racing and remains popular among residents of the State of Florida, where the game is used as a basis for parimutuel gambling.

The popularity of jai-alai in the north-eastern United States waned as other gambling options became available. As a result, jai-alai frontons in Connecticut towns such as Hartford and Milford have permanently closed; the Bridgeport Fronton became a greyhound race track; the Newport Grand Fronton in Rhode Island closed, but reopened as a mainstream gambling facility, with Video Lottery Terminals (VLT's) replacing the fronton.

In an effort to prevent any closures of Florida frontons, the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate passed a law which allowed poker rooms within jai-alai frontons. The bill sat on the desk of Governor Jeb Bush waiting for his signature. After fifteen days unsigned by the Governor, it automatically became law.

External Links

Dania Jai-Alai/Race Book & Poker Room, Dania Beach, Florida
  • Fort Pierce Jai-Alai, Fort Pierce, Florida
  • Fronton Palacio, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
  • Miami Jai-Alai, Miami, Florida
  • Newport Grand Jai-Alai, Newport, Rhode Island
  • Ocala Jai-Alai, Orange Lake, Florida
  • Orlando Jai-Alai, Casselberry, Florida

  • Fronton still open however Pari-Mutuel wagering on Jai-Alai has ceased.
    Ceased live Jai-Alai performances on July 14, 2003. Wagering on simulcast Jai-Alai is still available.