Jai-Alai Chronology
Significant Events in the World of Jai-Alai
Compliments of Tiger's Jai-Alai Heaven)
Tiger's Jai-Alai Heaven logos, format and graphics copyright © 2003-2015 by RSB Associates


Played for centuries in the Basque region, cesta punta is introduced to the Americas in Cuba.


Havana, Cuba
May 7, 1902 - First official jai-alai court in America opens.

St. Louis, MO First USA jai-alai fronton is built on DeBaliviere Avenue in the Kingsbury section of St. Louis, during the 1904 World's Fair. I have not found a direct connection with the World's Fair, only that it was an attraction built at the same time.
St. Louis, MO May 15, 1904 - St. Louis fronton opens.
St. Louis, MO July, 1904 - Jai-alai operations end after two months. The fronton later became the Winter Garden skating rink.

Hialeah, FL The first Miami fronton is built as part of the Hialeah complex

New Orleans, LA New Orleans fronton built.

Hialeah, FL September 18, 1926 - The original Miami fronton is destroyed by the "Great Miami Hurricane", a massive Category IV storm which devastated Miami and Miami Beach.
Miami, FL Jai-Alai is first played professionally at the Miami fronton.

Chicago, IL December 21, 1927 - Chicago jai-alai begins at the Rainbo Fronton (Rainbo Gardens).

Mexico City Fronton Mexico opens.

Florida Pari-mutuel wagering begins.

Miami, FL January 4, 1936 - Pari-mutuel wagering begins at Biscayne (Miami) Fronton.

New York, NY September 8, 1938 - Jai-Alai is introduced at the Hippodrome, playing only one short season.

Tijuana, Mexico February 28, 1947 - Fronton Palacio opens.

Tampa, FL December 19, 1953 - Tampa Jai-Alai opens.
Dania Beach, FL December 23, 1953 - Dania Jai-Alai opens.

West Palm Beach, FL January 12, 1956 - West Palm Beach Jai-Alai opens.

Tijuana, Mexico March 21, 1957 - Fronton Palacio was completely consumed by fire.

Daytona Beach, FL June 4, 1959 - Daytona Jai-Alai opens.

Orlando, FL January 5, 1962 - Orlando Jai-Alai opens.

  Mandatory use of helmets begins following a frightening head injury to Fernando Orbea, which effectively ended his career.
Florida A players strike led to blacklisting of many players, most of which returned to their homeland. Many were to return when Bridgeport Jai-Alai opened in 1976.

Hartford, CT Connect General Assembly enacts Public Law #865, creating the Commission of Special Revenue. Its primary responsibility was the implementation of regulations governing pari-mutuel wagering as a means of obtaining funds for the support of state government.
Melbourne, FL November 1, 1971 - Melbourne Jai-Alai opens.

Ocala, FL June 11, 1973 - Ocala Jai-Alai opens.

Daytona Beach, FL April 11, 1974 - Daytona Beach fronton destroyed by fire. A Springfield (MA) Mafia boss was later implicated in the crime.
Fort Pierce, FL May 29, 1974 - Fort Pierce Jai-Alai opens.
Las Vegas, NV MGM Casino fronton opens.

Hartford, CT May 20, 1976 - Hartford Jai-Alai opens (part of World Jai-Alai).
Bridgeport, CT June 1, 1976 - Bridgeport Jai-Alai opens.
Newport, RI Newport Jai-Alai opens.

Milford, CT May 5, 1977 - Milford Jai-Alai opens.

Quincy, FL January 27, 1978 - Big Bend Jai-Alai opens.
Reno, NV May 3, 1978 - MGM Reno fronton opens.

 West Palm Beach, FL
 December 26, 1978 - West Palm Beach fronton destroyed by fire, presumably arson.

Newport, RI August 3, 1979 - Fastest jai-alai shot (188 mph) reported by Jose Ramon Arietio at Newport Jai Alai. Although I seriously doubt this number, it is still widely reported.
Florida The Seminole tribe (Florida) initiates bingo operations, and becomes the first Indian reservation gaming enterprise.

Reno, NV MGM Reno fronton closes.
Las Vegas, NV November - MGM Grand Hotel fire.

Tulsa, OK May 27, 1981 - Roger Wheeler murder.

Miami, FL August 1, 1982 - John "Jack" Callahan murder

Hartford, CT May 28 - June 30, 1983 - A labor dispute involving employees of Berenson's Hartford Jai-Alai and the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Local 217 resulted in a strike action, closing the fronton until June 30. A total of 34 performances were lost due to this action.

Philippines  Jai-alai games terminated following a game-fixing scandal.
  International Jai-Alai Players Association (IJAPA) formed.
  April 14, 1988 - STRIKE

Hartford, CT
April 26, 1988 - CT Division of Special Revenue shuts down Bridgeport and Hartford frontons, citing "danger to the public safety"

Tampa, FL
April 28, 1988 - Tampa closes after operating for 1-1/2 weeks with replacement players.
  October 17, 1988 - Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This Congressional Act affirmed the right of tribes to conduct gaming on Indian lands, but made it subject to tribal/state compact negotiations for certain types of gaming.

Melbourne, FL February 3, 1990 - Melbourne Jai-Alai closes.
Quincy, FL April 11, 1990 - Big Bend Jai-Alai closes.

Ledyard, CT February 15, 1992 - Opening of Foxwoods Casino by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Daytona Beach, FL Daytona Jai-Alai closes.
West Palm Beach, FL December 30, 1994 - West Palm Beach Jai-Alai closes.

Philippines An attempt to resurrect the game was blocked when the Supreme Court declared that gambling was against the national interest.

Bridgeport, CT April 30, 1995 - Bridgeport Jai-Alai closes.
Hartford, CT September 5, 1995 - Hartford Jai-Alai closes.


Mexico City
October 2, 1996 - Fronton Mexico closes.
Montville, CT October 12, 1996 - Opening of Mohegan Sun casino by the Mohegan Tribal Nation.

Tampa, FL July 4, 1998 - Tampa Jai-Alai closes.
Tijuana, Mexico Fronton Palacio closes.


Miami, FL
March 24, 2000 - L. Stanley "Buddy" Berenson passes away.

Manila, P.I. June 22, 2001 - Jai-alai resumes in the Philippines, absent since 1986. Operated by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Milford, CT December 12, 2001 - Milford Jai-Alai closes.

Newport, RI July 13, 2003 - Newport Jai-Alai closes.


Several major hurricanes cause local closings and do major damage to several frontons.

November 2, 2004 - Amendment 4 to the State Constitution passes, allowing slot machines at pari-mutuel venues in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties (subject to local approval).


Jasper, FL
September 17, 2005 - Hamilton Jai-Alai opens, first new fronton in 27 years.


Santa Ana, Cagayan, PI
March 10, 2010 - Jai-alai returns to the Philippines. Established by Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) within the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).


Santa Ana, Cagayan, PI
July 10, 2011 - As part of a crackdown against illegal off-fronton betting activity, a Philippine court issues a 60-day restraining order, temporarily stopping the games.


Miami, FL
January 23, 2012 - Miami Jai Alai opened its slot facility and reopened its cardroom. The cardroom had been previously established, but closed the end of March 2011 until completion of the slots facility.


Dania Beach, FL
February 20, 2014 - Dania Jai Alai Casino began operation with 549 slot machines, and reopened their cardroom with 26 tables.