Battle Court Jai-Alai Season III Kicks Off At Florida Casino Friday

Written By Steve Schult on February 2, 2023
Magic City Casino Battle Court Jai-alai season III

The third season of Florida’s only professional jai-alai league kicks off on Friday.

Season III of Battle Court will hold its first matches of the season at Magic City Casino in Miami on Feb. 3. This season, the league expanded from four to five teams. With each team having a six-man roster, the state’s top 30 jai-alai players will participate this season.

The Battle Court draft was held at Magic City’s fronton on Jan. 9. Selections went in reverse order with the last-place team from Season II picking first in every round. On the other hand, the defending champion Rebote Renegades had the last pick in each of the six rounds.

“The Spring 2023 Season Draft was an exciting night where you could sense the anticipation in the room from our athletes as our team owners made their decisive selections,” said Magic City COO Battle Court creator Scott Savin. “As the preeminent professional jai-alai league in the United States, the pool of talent grows ever competitive and the level of play is truly world-class. I can’t wait to see these players face off on the court.”

Battle Court Draft Results

Round Lifestyle Miami ChargersWall Warriors Dejada Devils Cesta Cyclones Rebote Renegades
1Zulaika Inaki Douglas Manu Goixerri
3BennyJulen UrbietaCarballoGoenaga
6WilliamsRoque CRBFloresJoseph

Devils join Battle Court

The Dejada Devils, owned by Michael and Nina Blechman are joining the league this year. However, the Blechmans are no strangers to Battle Court.

Before owning the Devils, the Blechmans owned the Chula Chargers. But the Chargers are now owned by Miguel Zulueta. Zulueta is the president of Lifestyle Miami Group and rebranded the team to the Lifestyle Miami Chargers.

Longtime producer of the ‘Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz’ Chris Cote owns the Cesta Cyclones. The Cyclones won the inaugural championship in April 2022.

Local radio personalities own the other two Battle Court franchises. Jammin Johnny from El Zol 106.7 FM owns the defending champion Rebote Renegades. While K. Marie, known as ‘La Gringa Mas Latina’ from TU 94.9 FM owns the Wall Warriors.

Partnerships with ESPN and BetRivers are still in place

For its first season, Savin secured a partnership with Rush Street Gaming. Rush Street’s online sportsbook, BetRivers, is the only place bettors can wager on the matches.

Last August, Battle Court announced a media partnership with ESPN. The sports media giant streamed matches on ESPN3 throughout the second season. It used the same platform to stream last month’s draft.

Matches will be played on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. ESPN3 will broadcast all three days of jai-alai but live, in-person viewing is only available at Magic City on Fridays.

No Battle Court betting in Florida

Along with horse racing, jai-alai is one of two sports Floridians can bet on. But despite the BetRivers partnership, Battle Court betting is prohibited in the Sunshine State.

When Savin created the league a year ago, the game was slightly altered to make it more entertaining in a team format.

Instead of traditional pari-mutuel scoring, Battle Court adopted tennis-like rules. The goal is for the player or doubles pair to win two sets played to six points. Pari-mutuel rules play a single match to anywhere between 10 and 40 points.

As a result, Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering will not allow Floridians to bet on Battle Court. Regulators never approved Battle Court rules for betting. But that could change when Florida sports betting is legalized.

Magic City still hosts traditional jai-alai at its fronton on non-Battle Court days. Florida bettors can wager on those matches on-site at Magic City Casino. But only gamblers in the 12 states where BetRivers is operational can bet on Battle Court.

In response to Battle Court’s popularity, other venues began reopening their jai-alai operations last year. For example, the Casino at Dania Beach reopened its jai-alai operations and hosted a jai-alai tournament last December.

Jai-alai bettors can wager at any of those venues as well.

Photo by AP / Rebecca Blackwell
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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