What is Jai Alai and why it is called “Game of a thousand thrills”?

Jai alai, or Basque pelota is the world’s fastest ballgame as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records which is a thrilling, dangerous, high-speed game, played with a rock-hard ball traveling up to 180mph that originated in Spain, and is played using a hard rubber ball caught and thrown with a cesta, a curved wicker strapped onto the players arm. The game is also termed as fronton in some countries.

Jai alai is a sport popular in Spanish culture. In the Philippines (once a colony of Spain), Jai alai became a sports betting game, and is considered illegal. It was banned in 1986 after a game-fixing scandal, but returned into business last March 2010.

Jai alai in the Philippines is under the operation of Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC), a joint venture between Spanish and Filipino-Chinese investors with Aitor Arana Totoricaguena as the president. He was a former Jai-alai champion who also owns a production outfit in Spain and in the United States.

On July 6th 2011, DOJ secretary Leila de Lima has declared that Jai alai betting centers outside Cagayan Economic Zone (CEZA) are illegal, and ordered arrest of operators and collectors of bets.

Jai alai is only allowed in the economic zone of Cagayan; however, the facts cant be denied that all over the archipelago, Jai-alai became mainstream and many are addicted to this “illegal” sports betting. There are a couple of bet collectors imprisoned but several days after, are set free and again back into business. Literally, millions are being generated on this illegal game, and the government cant stop them. There’s a saying, “if you cant beat them, join them”. How about if the government just legalize Jai-alai or make an alternative, just like what they did to Small time lottery (STL) to combat the “daily double” or “jueteng”? If they do, they’ll have the chance to get taxes from it.

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