The newest sport to grace the online sports betting community is here. This is how to bet on Jai alai, and where you can wager in America.
One of the most enjoyable things about sports wagering is the ability it provides for sports fans to discover sports and leagues they previously either ignored or did not follow.
During the COVID-related shutdown of American sports leagues, fans found themselves learning more about the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), which continued playing. This spring, college lacrosse has seen an uptick in popularity thanks in part to sportsbooks offering lines on many games.
The latest entry to this field? Jai alai. Earlier this year, Miami’s Magic City Casino teamed up with BetRivers/Sugarhouse to introduce head-to-head Jai alai games to a North American audience.
In this article, we’ll examine Jai alai’s history and gameplay, how to bet on Jai alai, and where you can wager on this exciting sport.
How Do You Play Jai Alai?
Jai alai (pronounced “hi eh-lie”) has been around for centuries. It combines elements of tennis and racquetball with a main piece of equipment reminiscent of lacrosse.
Using a wicker “cesta” strapped to their dominant throwing arm, players propel a rubber ball off a wall. The long, curved Cesta allows top players to launch the ball at speed in excess of 120 miles per hour.
Game play combines elements of tennis and racquetball, with three walls (to the front, back, and left of the players) surrounding the court. One player serves against the front wall, with the ball required to land in a specific portion of the court (like tennis).
From there, the opponent must catch and return the ball in a continuous motion before it hits the court a second time. Again, similar to other racquet sports.
This process continues until a ball is either not returned or is propelled out of bounds. With the players sharing the same areas of the court (rather than being separated by a net, as in tennis) interference can be called and results in playing the point over.
How is Magic City Jai Alai Different?
Traditional Jai alai was played using a “round robin” approach of sports – usually eight players or eight teams of two players. Two players or teams start on the court, and the loser of each point rotates to the back of the line. The winner was the first team to reach 7 or 9 points, depending on the style of game.
As such, the wagering available on Jai alai was similar to horse racing. Gamblers could choose a player or team to win, place (finish second), or show (finish third). Combined Jai alai quinella and perfecta bets (wagering who would finish first AND second, whether in order or otherwise) were also available.
But forget all of that when it comes to Magic City Jai-Alai. It introduces a brand-new, head-to-head element to the game. Known as “Battle Court,” Magic City’s approach removes the round-robin element, dividing the league into squads of players who go head-to-head in both singles and doubles matches.
The scoring system is modified from sports like tennis and volleyball that utilize “sets.” A set in Magic City Jai alai is played to six points. The winner is then the first team to win two sets. Accordingly, a match can go as long as three sets.
The Major Difference?
One major difference – there’s no “deuce” or “must win by two” in Magic City Jai alai. If the score is 5-5, the next point becomes winner-take-all for that particular set.
A roster of 28 players is divided into four squads. Then, “games” consist of three singles matches and two doubles matches. The winner of each match sees points assigned to his squad, with a winner determined after all head-to-head matches (singles and doubles) conclude.
How to Bet on Jai Alai?
Again, the Battle Court format eliminates the parimutuel, horse-racing style of wagering and introduces a wagering format more familiar to fans of sports like tennis.
What Bets Are Available?
The simplest, most common wager is a Jai alai money line bet on the winner of a given singles or doubles match. With the size of the league limited to 28 players, matchups tend to be very competitive; thus in a given week no player had a money line of greater than -250 odds.
Bettors can also wager on the outcomes of each set (or even each point during live wagering.) A total number of points in a set is offered as an over/under wager.
Set wagering is available in two styles:
- Handicap, which is similar to a point spread where one player or team will be favored by -1.5 sets. Here you’re wagering whether a designated, favored team will win in two straight sets as opposed to any other outcome.
- Set Betting, which gives each of the four possible outcomes assigned with odds. For example:
- Team A 2, Team B 0
- Team A 2, Team B 1
- Team A 1, Team B 2
- Team A 0, Team B 2
Choose the outcome you expect for a higher potential payout than simply picking a winner.
Finally, the league is divided into four squads. The Chula Chargers, Wall Warriors, Cesta Cyclones, and Rebote Renegades compete for top honors in Magic City jai Alai. Bettors can pick the team winner of an individual game, and Jai alai futures betting is also available to choose the squad who will be crowned champions at the end of each eight-week season.
So, in short, there are plenty of Jai alai betting options for you to choose from!
What Other Sportsbooks Offer Jai Alai Betting?
It’s what you’re probably here to read about – where can you bet on Jai alai elsewhere?
The exclusivity of the partnership between Magic City Jai Alai and BetRivers allows for jai alai wagering on the BetRivers platform in the following states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- West Virginia
More states will be forthcoming in future seasons.
BetRivers also allows customers the opportunity to stream matches live via their online platform. Yes, there’s Jai alai live streaming at BetRivers!
Rush Street Interactive, the parent company of BetRivers, gets Magic City Jai Alai’s exclusive league data as part of their partnership agreement. So it’s currently difficult for competing sportsbooks to make headway into offering wagering on these matches.
But, you can be assured that other marketplace leaders have an eye on the Miami-based league and are ready to throw their hats into the ring to offer competition or offer markets in other global jai alai associations. Sports wagering has aided in the popularity of several sports and leagues worldwide, and Jai alai will be no different.