Smartphone users comprise a large part of the online gambling marketplace. The frustrating experience for most people is that they cannot always find real-money gambling apps in their vendors’ app stores.
If you browse the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store for casino apps you will find them. Apple and Google each have their own rules governing real money play. Apple allows some real money gambling apps. Google does not.
If you’d like to use your smartphone to gamble for real money online, you can do this but there are some limitations. And even if you cannot play for real money there are other benefits to downloading and installing legitimate casino apps.
Many casinos publish mobile apps to help their customers manage their non-gambling activities. Although the available features vary by app, you can check hotel reservations, reward program points, update personal information, see what events are scheduled, see what facilities are provided, and more.
You just cannot gamble for real money via mobile phone apps for Pennsylavnia’s online casinos.
Avoid these mobile app scams
Even if you live in the state of Pennsylvania, you must limit your online gambling (playing for real money) to the tools provided by the state’s licensed online casinos.
Scammers may try to fool you into downloading apps from unauthorized websites. They may also buy apps in mobile app stores and change them, adding malware or worse.
Scammers use lookalike names, too. Always check that an app is authorized by the brand name you’re looking for.
Apple’s App Store implemented new rules in 2019 requiring mobile betting apps to be written in native code. Older apps wrapped native code around website code. Some older apps may no longer work properly.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid the short cuts and cheats. Know where you got your online gaming play.
Pennsylvania casinos cannot accept real money play via mobile apps
The information about online gambling via mobile apps is very confusing, to say the least. Depending on where an online casino is based it may allow real money play via an online app but most online casinos don’t accept USA players.
Pennsylvania’s online casinos accept players from anywhere in the United States, provided they are at least 21 years of age. But the complicated relationship between states’ and federal laws governing online gambling limits what you can do with a legal Pennsylvania casino mobile app.
Some of the apps include links to the casinos’ mobile-friendly websites.
Some of the apps allow players to enjoy “demo play” versions of a small selection of games.
In general, you should be able to visit any online casino site through your web browser. You may be able to play for real money online through the browser, but this will also depend on the casino’s site design.
These online Pennsylvania casinos provide app download instructions and links:
- Golden Nugget (Apple and Google)
- Hollywood Casino (Apple and Google)
- Sugarhouse Casino (Apple and Google)
- Unibet Casino (Apple and Google)
You must be physically within the state of Pennsylvania to play for real money
Even though you’ll find casino apps for your smartphone, you must still comply with state law. If you’re not inside the state’s boundaries, you cannot play for real money. This rule is true for all types of computer access and not just smartphones.
How do mobile casino apps work?
A mobile app is a computer program that is compiled to execute or run on your mobile phone’s operating system. Although Google Android and Apple iOS are the two most popular smartphone operating systems, there are others.
Downloading and using mobile apps is very similar for both Android and Apple users. If you search the app stores provided by these smartphone platform vendors you’ll find the casino apps they have approved.
Remember – legitimate Pennsylvania casino apps don’t allow you to play for real money when you are outside of the state. If you find an app that makes this promise, confirm on the official casino site that this is true. The law may have changed since this article was written.
Once installed the mobile app runs on your smartphone just as any other app does. It will use some storage space, require some processing power, and use up part of your battery’s power.
The richer, more detailed the graphics an app uses the more battery life it uses per minute.
Mobile apps may contain everything they need in their install files but most mobile apps are designed to connect to a remote host over the Internet. They do this just like your mobile web browser and messaging apps – either via your cellular network or via a local Wi-Fi node.
Most mobile users learn to set up Wi-Fi networks at home but it’s dangerous to use free Wi-Fi networks when you’re traveling. This is especially true in airports and hotels, where rogue Wi-Fi networks may be set up by hackers to compromise people’s smartphones.
If you connect via your cellular network you may burn through your monthly data limit quickly. Be sure you have enough bandwidth to play online games.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to use a smartphone that doesn’t have its original manufacturer settings. So-called “jailbreaking” removes some or all of these settings.
You’ll need to connect to the casino with geolocation active.
How to install online casino mobile apps
Although both Apple and Google explain how to find and install apps on your smartphone, it’s better to use your mobile browser to visit the casino website first.
Each casino has a page on its site for mobile app downloads. They’ll provide buttons you can click on to initiate the download process. Even if the apps download from the smartphone vendors’ app store, this is a more reliable way of ensuring you are downloading the authorized casino mobile app.
Some casino apps will have to be installed from what the mobile operating systems call “unknown sources”. Your smartphone security settings normally prevent this from happening but don’t worry – you won’t have to violate any agreements to install an authorized casino app from outside the app store.
Android users must make a 1-time change to their security settings to allow a website to download and install an app. Follow these steps:
- Click on the “Download” link from the casino website
- Tap on the Settings gear icon
- Scroll down to “Security” (or similar name) and tap on that
- Click on “Unknown Sources” (or similar name)
- You’ll be prompted to accept the app
- Go to your “Notifications” and continue the download
- Once the app is downloaded, click “Install”
Even if the app allows you to play real money games, you’ll need to be physically inside Pennsylvania’s state boundaries.
Apple users may have to use their mobile web browsers to visit some casino websites.
Apple allows sports betting and casino apps with a catch
Somewhere between 40% and 50% of all smartphone users in the USA are on Apple products. Apple users may be able to download sports betting apps from the App Store.
Follow instructions in the App Store for finding and downloading apps.
Many mobile apps are created in a very simplistic way, by “wrapping” mobile app code around website code. Apple began forbidding this practice for gambling apps in mid-2019. While the limitation frustrated sports betting users it did not completely close the door on iOS sports betting apps.
Each sports betting platform is responsible for creating an app that meets Apple’s guidelines. The guidelines also require a single app for both casino games and sports betting. A casino may choose to omit the casino games if it believes sports betting is more popular with its Apple-using customers.
Don’t download apps from third-party websites to get around this limitation. If the casino’s site provides an Apple download button, use that. If you cannot find an authorized app in the Apple App Store or on the casino website, you’ll have to use another device or try your mobile browser.
Some casinos won’t allow you to play for real money in mobile browsers
It’s a mobile-dominated Internet but mobile browsers still create problems for many websites. You may be able to view a site in “desktop mode” by turning your smartphone sideways so that the screen is wider than a typical mobile device.
Most websites only look at the screen resolution, and the resolution dimensions change depending on which way the phone is held. Unfortunately, you may have to enable rotation settings on your smartphone before the screen shifts around sideways.
Some video apps won’t work in landscape or “wide” mode, so it’s frustrating to have to turn the phone for a website and then turn it back for an app.
Tablet users may have a better experience than mobile users
The terminology surrounding tablet PCs (iPads, Amazon Kindles, and other similar devices) is a bit confusing. The tablet market is relatively small compared to smartphone and desktop computers (which include laptops and notebooks).
Even so, millions of tablet computers are still used every day in the United States. To most websites your tablet PC works just like a desktop PC. You may need to turn the tablet sideways to get the best visual experience but this is a common practice for tablet users anyway.
Although the Amazon app store only allow free casino game apps you can visit any online casino site via the Silk Web browser app on Kindle. The website may or may not allow you to play its games if it detects a non-standard browser, or if there exists an unknown compatibility issues. Silk is a controversial browser that works through Amazon’s EC2 cloud platform and some people distrust it.
Is it worthwhile to use Pennsylvania casino mobile apps?
At the very least most mobile apps allow customers to view and manage some or all of their account functions. Online casinos – including Pennsylvania’s online casinos – include these functions.
Mobile apps are convenient and usually easy to use. And unlike many other gaming apps you’re not pummeled with gratuitous advertising. The online casinos provide a direct-to-consumer product so their apps act as their mobile advertisements.
You’ll be able to see the latest news about your favorite Pennsylvania casino. Even if you cannot see a full list of available games, they may include the most popular online games in their apps.
The apps themselves are safe to use but like any app they’ll consume resources and bandwidth. You’ll need to watch those carefully.
Because the apps need to log into casino accounts to allow you to manage your information and balance, you’ll need to be careful about where you use these apps. Mobile phone connections are popular targets for hackers who run harvesting programs.
The mobile apps are provided to enhance your online gaming experience. You’re more likely to gamble online from home or a friend’s house anyway, which means you’re more likely to be in a safe environment.
Mobile gaming is a complicated market in the United States. Gaming apps are popular but they must walk a fine line between creating a great entertainment experience and complying with a myriad of state and federal laws.
Mainstream app stores restrict, limit, or forbid apps that enable real-money gambling. You may find some options outside the app stores but use due diligence.
Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry is robust and popular. It’s a great opportunity for Americans to gamble online in a licensed, regulated environment. You don’t need to be a resident of Pennsylvania to gamble there but you must be inside the state to gamble online at any Pennsylvania casino website.
If you only have access to a smartphone while traveling through Pennsylvania you have the option of browsing each casino’s website and downloading its mobile apps.
The challenges mobile app users face are real but not completely insurmountable.
Have fun and stay safe.