Ray Lewis Joins Board Of World Jai Alai League

Ray Lewis Joins Board Of World Jai Alai League

The nascent World Jai Alai League has brought on NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis to its board of directors, US Bets has learned.

The move gives the only professional jai alai league in the U.S. a prominent, if controversial, face as it tries to revive the once-popular parimutuel sport in the modern context of legal sports betting. The league began when Magic City Casino Chief Operating Officer Scott Savin brought in former University of Miami athletes and trained them to play the sport in 2018.

In addition to his 17 seasons in the NFL, which included 13 Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP award, Lewis played from 1993-95 for the Hurricanes and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.

The league has yet to turn a profit for Magic City’s owners, but Savin and the casino owners have pushed ahead with ambitious projects nonetheless. They continue to seek out sports betting deals with U.S. operators in addition to the partnership they currently have with BetRivers, which offers jai alai betting in 12 states.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Ray to our board of directors. This is a big day for the growth of our league,” Savin said in a press release. “Ray’s stature, experience, and insights will increase overall awareness of jai alai, which is already growing exponentially. Ray will be a motivating force, not just for our athletes, but for all of us.”

Murder charge was dropped two decades ago

Lewis, 47, who played his entire career for the Baltimore Ravens, has been called the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history. He was charged with murder after a Super Bowl party at an Atlanta nightclub led to two stabbing deaths in 2000. The murder charge was dropped in return for his testimony against his companions, who were eventually acquitted.

Recognized for fiery leadership in his playing days, Lewis also is known for his charitable work for disadvantaged kids and he hosts The Ray Lewis Show on YouTube.

“I’m excited to join WJAL on the ground floor and help spread the word about this fast-growing sport,” Lewis said in the release. “These are incredible athletes playing a uniquely challenging game, and Scott Savin and his team are building something special. I look forward to getting to Miami soon to check out these athletes in person.”

Jai alai has a history stretching back four centuries to the Basque region on the French-Spanish border, though Savin has reimagined some of the traditional rules to make it more friendly to sports bettors and to increase its appeal to people streaming the games. Other board members include Joey Cornblit, the first American-born player to achieve world champion status, and Leon Shepard, known as “Tevin” during his days as a jai alai champion.

All WJAL matches are streamed live on ESPN3. Friday night matches are also open to the public, which can still bet on the sport via parimutuel wagering.

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Author: Ryan Gonzales