Sport: Jai Alai Boom

The game of jai alai (pronounced high lie) is Cuba's contribution to Miami's sport life. Long popular in a grubby way, despite its commercialization — its bursts of breath-taking action punctuated by frequent intermissions while the audience was canvassed for bets — it may prove to be a big-time gambling game.

For 19 years, olive-skinned jai alai professionals, wielding elongated basket-like contraptions called cestas, have whipped pelotas from one end of a three-walled concrete court to the other, banged their heads against the wall in disgust when they muffed a point, and pulled off shots requiring marvels of footwork and timing. Despite...

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