Jai Alai Betting - A Brief Guide to a Popular Sport

Jai Alai betting is a popular form of online gambling in the Philippines and other Hispanic countries. First played in the 14th century, this non-contact sport was a popular spectator sport that also attracts its loyal punters. However, its popularity declined over the years in the Philippines. Although it briefly returned to the Philippine betting scene in March 2010, the game’s popularity never returned to normal. In this article, we take a look at how jai alai betting works.

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What is Jai Alai?

Although not as popular as horse racing or betting on the lottery, Jai Alai betting is still an important part of the gambling industry. It’s a non-contact sport where the player bounces the ball off a walled space by accelerating it to high speeds using a hand-held device. If the ball touches the floor outside of the walls, it’s considered out of bounds. In the Philippines, the game was primarily played at the Manila Jai Alai Building, an important Art Deco building in the country. This adds to the appeal of jai alai sport as a colorful sport to play and bet on.

Court layout

In the jai alai game, players play in a large three-walled court that includes the front wall, left, and back wall. For those learning the jai alai meaning, this playing area is the ‘cancha’. There’s no standard size for the court but it’s normally 176 feet long and 40 feet wide. On the right side of the court is a 10-15 feet wide wooden out-of-bounds area called the ‘contra-cancha’.

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The main equipment in jai alai is the hand-held wicker device called the ‘cesta’. traditionally, this is made up of reeds found in the Pyrenees Mountains and custom-made for the player. The hand is inserted into the leather glove and held in place by a tie. Since it’s custom-made, the construction takes 14 hours and they’re priced at around $100 each. Also, a jai alai game needs the ball called a ‘pelota’.


For every game, two teams compete for points. A team will have a server, and his job is to bounce the ball behind the serving line. Using the ‘cesta’, the player must hurl it towards the front wall so that it bounces there between lines 7 and 4 on the floor. After the team’s serve completes this task, the ball is now in play and ready to be hit by the other team.


In Jai Alai betting, you must know how the scoring works. Based on the rules, the first time to score 7 points or 9 for the Superfecta games win. For Jai Alai betting, the next highest scores are the place (second) and show (third). In case of a tie, playoffs will decide who the winner is. There are different ways of how a team can score a point. For example, a team earns points if the other player (team) fails to catch the ball on the fly or after a bounce.

jai alai game

How to Bet on Jai Alai

After learning about the game, the next consideration is to know how to participate in Jai Alai betting. In the Philippines, Jai Alai betting is allowed in frontons. Its betting system uses the pari-mutel system instead of the fixed odds. Under this betting system, the odds and payouts takes into account the number of bettors. To bet on the game, you need to visit a betting terminal and play one of the different types of bets available. Described below are some of the most popular bets to play in Jai Alai betting.

Types of Bets

Just like in other sports, Jai Alai offers you several types of bets. Before you take part in Jai alai gambling, make sure you understand the differences between these types of bets and the following strategies.

  • Wheel or part wheel bet - If you think that a team is strong, you may want to consider this bet. For example, you can bet $1 Trifecta:4 for all. If all four teams win, you win the bet.
  • Rundown - This is a variant of the wheel bet that contains two numbers with only one ‘all’. If you place a 5-2 bet, this covers all possible permutations including 5-2-1, 5-2-3, 5-2-6, 5-2-4, 5-2-7, 5-2-8 which typically costs $6.
  • Key - You can use this bet if you want to focus on a particular team or specific spot. For example, if you wanted to ‘key’ 4 to finish first with four other numbers, your bet will appear like this: “4/5-1-2-3. So if ‘4’ wins and any combination ends up second and third, you collect a payout.


Jai Alai betting can be confusing for the first-time punter. This is true because this game uses different terms for Trifecta, Superfecta, Exacta, and the Daily Double. But if you read and research first before you bet, you can easily enjoy and take profits from Jai Alai betting.


How did Jai Alai start?

Jai Alai takes inspiration from the handball game that was popular in the Basque area of the Pyrenees Mountains more than four centuries ago. The game was often played during holidays and Sundays in small villages in Spain.

🥇 Are there Jai Alai tournaments?

Yes, there are Jai Alai tournaments that are hosted regularly. A popular tournament is the U.S. National Jai-Alai Championship which accepts local players only.

🤔 Can I bet on Jay Alai?

Yes, there are online sportsbooks today that accept real money bets for Jai Alai games. You can check out our list of sportsbooks the find the right site for Jai Alai betting.