- In the last 12 months, the handle collected by Jai Alai in the state of Florida was $8.45 million.
- In the period of 12 months in 2011-2012, that number was at about $30 million.
- William Hill US hopes to popularize the sport again and make its way into the Florida betting scene while doing it.
MIAMI – Big time sportsbook William Hill has become the first sportsbook of its size to accept wagers on Jai Alai in the U.S. but more specifically in Florida. William Hill US and Casino Miami have partnered to make pari-mutuel betting on Jai Alai a reality for all of those in Allapattah and the surrounding areas in South Florida.
Sports betting has not yet been made legal in the state.
“Hopefully one day this is a William Hill Race and Sportsbook, until sports betting legislation passes in Florida, it’s a racebook,” said Joe Asher, the CEO of William Hill US.
Betting On Jai Alai In Florida
Presently, Casino Miami is a racebook that will accept wagers on Jai Alai in a horse racing type fashion with the use of pari-mutuel wagers. The Calder Casino was granted permission by the courts to cease their horse racing operations for Jai Alai earlier this year.
William Hill and Casino Miami have made it even bigger by further expanding the market for the sport.
“I think it’s a great deal and I think it will help us grow the sport as it was in the 80s,” said Aritz Erkiaga the crowned “King Of Miami” for the sport.
The owner of Casino Miami, Phillip Ruffin, is confident in this partnership with William Hill when it comes to increasing their business with the inclusion of the sport.
“William Hill has unparalleled expertise and a rich history in racing. The company has led the industry for decades and together we will bring state-of-the-art technology and innovation to Casino Miami,” said Ruffin. “This new race book will provide us with an incredible amenity for guests and will place us at the forefront of the forthcoming Florida sports betting business.”
The Game Of Jai Alai
Jai Alai is played with a Cesta – a piece of equipment that looks like a curved basket on a stick. The Cesta is used to throw a goatskin ball on a court like that of a tennis court set up. The balls can move as fast as 160mph.
Live and legal sports betting on the game will be offered with the pari-mutuel simulcast bets but wagers will be taken in a round-robin scenario, instead of winners being the team or athlete that scores 21 points first. With the round-robin structure, there will be eight teams. Any team that scores will stay on the court while the other teams move to the back of the line.
This will allow for bettors to take part in exotic bets like trifectas and quinellas as well. These wager types allow for the top three or top two rather than the typical win-place-show wagers seen in horse racing betting – which Casino Miami will still offer at their location.
The Future Of Sports Betting In Florida
Three separate sports betting bills in Florida have been filed by Senator Jeff Brandes.
These bills will be presented at the 2020 Senate Committee hearings. The state still has a hurdle to pass due to the Seminole Tribe’s opposition and their hold on gaming in Florida. However, with William Hill US Sportsbook and the introduction of Jai Alai betting, it is a step in the right direction for the Sunshine State.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.