Gaming options widen for people without a pc
By Linda
Choices are improving for users of Macintosh and other operating systems, as more developers of gaming software are creating casino games that use Java or Flash technology. These should work well on a Mac, especially if the player uses Internet Explorer for their browser.

American WebTV owners, however, are still out of action when it comes to online gaming. They will have to wait until true interactive TV gaming, which is doing well in the United Kingdom, arrives in the U.S.

Experts estimate that Mac has less than 5 percent of the home-computer market, which means that it doesn’t make financial sense for game developers to write downloadable software for Macs.

'We do not offer our downloaded version (to Mac users) simply because of the sheer economics of the situation,' said Laurie Moore, product manager for IQ-Ludorum. 'The cost to address that market segment would be nearly double, yet it is a much smaller installed base.'

IQ-Ludorum, a London company that began as a developer of software for sports betting sites, offers casino games in both downloadable and Java versions. The latter can be accessed by players using Mac, or Unix or Linux. But the downloadable version, which offers higher quality graphics and audio, is only available to Windows users.

The cost to developers is not just in writing the software, but in testing it with different platforms and with different browsers. Paul Barnes, vice president for sales and marketing for Access Gaming Systems, a developer based in Dublin, said testing is especially costly for companies like his that only do business in fully regulated jurisdictions, where regulators impose detailed certification requirements.

'You’ve got Internet Explorer and Netscape, with three or four versions for each of those, that you have to support,' Barnes said. 'With Windows, there’s XP, NT, 95, 98, 2000, all of these platforms. If you multiply all the permutations of browser across platform, you come up with something quite horrific. We have to test all our games over all of these platforms. If you added Mac and Linux and WebTV and everything onto that, then you could employ a whole company just testing all these variations!'

Alistair Assheton of VIP Casinos said the site’s Java games work well on Macs, and that it 'helps enormously' that Apple now ships new Macs with Java 2.0 pre-installed. But only 1 or 2 percent of VIP Casinos’ players use a Mac, Assheton said.

In addition to Mac users, Diane Gartshore a director of Cryptologic said, Java and Flash games are well-suited to people who use different computers in different places and don’t want to download gaming software to them.

5 Mac-friendly Casinos:

•Strike It Lucky Flash

•Sands of the Caribbean Java

•Casino On Net Java

•InterCasino Java

•Grand Hotel Flash

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