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Online sports betting now live in PA

By CORY GIGER

For The Express

Legal online sports betting has finally arrived in Pennsylvania after longer-than-expected delays.

There’s only one available online casino option for people to wager at so far. There also are still technology and legal issues that have to be addressed within the industry to make the betting process easier.

But if you’re 21 or older and looking to bet the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, French Open, baseball or anything else, you now can do so from your living room — without breaking the law on some offshore website.

SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia became the first to offer online sports betting with a limited three-day rollout test that began May 28, then it launched 24/7 on May 31. For now, it remains the only option for sports bettors in the state, although that will change as more sites come online in the coming weeks/months.

The only ways to access the SugarHouse sports betting site (pa.playsugarhouse.com) are through a desktop or laptop computer or an Android mobile device. It cannot be accessed on an iPhone or iPad.

One stumbling block remaining is that Apple has yet to change its licensing requirements to allow people to wager on sports betting apps within Pennsylvania. People who live in New Jersey can download apps from the App Store to bet on sports, but hangups remain for PA residents.

The issue could be resolved this summer, although there’s no specific timetable.

The apps problem is a big deal. Most people do everything on their phone, and not having an app available for iPhones is undoubtedly a hassle. In fact, it’s been reported some casino operators that are ready to roll out their sports betting sites are delaying until Apple resolves the app issue.

Sports betting obviously is and always has been a huge part of the sports landscape in this country. Many people understand what they’re getting into and the pitfalls that can come with gambling.

But even some of the most experienced sports bettors need to understand that the new online betting sites coming to Pennsylvania offer some different elements.

The biggest difference you’ll notice when you eventually go on one of these sites is the incredible number of live bets available.

Check a major league baseball game in the fifth inning, and there can be as many as 30 different bet possibilities. You can bet batter to batter, with odds updated after every pitch.

Basketball and football, too. You can bet constantly updated spreads and props over the course of a few minutes in basketball, or if a team will get a first down or go three-and-out in a given football series.

In hockey, you can bet on whether there will be a faceoff within any given minute of action. In tennis, you can bet each and every point throughout an entire match.

The reason for all of these bet possibilities is obvious: The more you bet, the more likely it is you’re going to lose. That’s an inevitable fact of sports betting and something anyone who’s done it extensively will lament.

These casinos want you to keep betting. So they keep giving you more and more enticing options.

It’s not like your local bookie, where you place a bet on a football team to cover a 7-point spread and then go away to watch the game. Online, you can bet that spread at any point — up or down — for the entire game.

If you truly know what you’re doing and can be patient, live sports betting really is the way to go. You get a feel for both teams in a game and jump on a value you like better than the original line.

These online sites also offer insurance with bets that many people have never experienced. If you bet, say, $100 on a team to cover a spread and it gets down right away, you can surrender your bet for a lesser return (in the $40-70 range, depending on numerous factors) if you think the team won’t be able to recover.

We are at the tip of the iceberg for sports betting in this country. It’s only become legal online in a few states, and when things kick into full gear everywhere with apps and a never-ending stream of live bets, it will completely change the way many people view sports.

Just be careful, though. No matter how smart you think you are when it comes to sports, it’s easy to get in over your head gambling on anything, and you can be humbled in a hurry.

Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. on ‘Toona 1430-AM.

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