Online Gaming Goes Mobile
The growing popularity of smartphones and tablets such as the iPhone and iPad have led more and more poker sites and online casinos to devote resources towards mobile apps. While many sites have offered Java-based mobile phone clients for years, these have tended to be fairly simple programs with basic functionality; they did the job and let customers play poker and Internet casino games on their phones but they lacked a bit as far as the "wow" factor. The larger display size and superior hardware of tablets and smartphones have upped the ante for online sites, with little now standing in the way from a technical point of view in giving players the exact same experience on their mobile device as they're accustomed to getting on their desktop or laptop.
Little that is, except for a company called Apple that you might have heard of. Security risks are still a concern with any mobile app used for real money wagering but the largest obstacle at the moment that's preventing more mobile gaming apps from coming to the market is Apple itself. Apple has approved many poker and casino apps that let players compete for play chips (and even developed one of the more popular poker apps itself -- Apple Texas Hod'em) but it has steered clear of approving apps that could be used for real money play. A few non-US online operators such as bwin have gotten real money gambling apps approved for distribution in Apple's App Store, but there are still very options for iPhone and iPad owners that want to play online for real money.
The picture is slightly more rosy for Android owners, as there's not the same Apple obstacle standing in the way. Owners of Android devices also have the option of accessing no download casinos as well via Web browsers, since Android supports Flash technology, which is the backbone of many of the no download clients currently available. Sites such as PaddyPower, Full Tilt, and AllSlots Casino have all released software that lets owners of Android mobile phones and tablets access and play various real money games. While Google instituted a content rating system in late 2010 for apps in its Android Market that some thought signaled a crackdown on gambling apps, some real-money wagering apps are still available for download and use.
While the options may still remain fairly limited when it comes to real money wagering, it's likely just a matter of time before the situation changes, especially as the industry as a whole mature. It makes sense for Apple and Google to tread lightly initially when it comes to approving gambling apps (especially in markets such as the US where anti-gambling laws are on the books) but the demand in other countries where online gambling is legal remains very high for mobile gaming options. Smartphones and tablets are here to stay and in many ways they're the perfect platform for online gaming, as they can potentially let players tap into all their favorite games without having to be needlessly tethered to a desktop or laptop.