The first few online sports betting and casino gaming sites and apps are beginning to trickle out into the Pennsylvania marketplace, but until very recently only users of Android products could access these gaming platforms on mobile devices. iPhone and iPad users have been completely shut out. Now, there is finally a workaround for users of Apple devices. It’s not the functional Apple app that would be ideal, but it is at least a way for iPhone and iPad users to access online gaming sites in PA – at least some of them.
The online gaming market in PA is still brand new
Online gaming is a fledgling market in the Keystone State. This is due to recent changes in national and state laws that have paved the way for many new additions to the PA gaming space. A new online state lottery was created, retail sportsbooks were provisioned for, and online versions of these sportsbooks along with games like slots, pit games (blackjack, roulette, etc) and even online poker are now licensed and taxed and available to the public.
As of July 2019, the first of these online sportsbooks and casino game platforms are beginning to enter the market and many more will soon follow them – most this summer and the rest later on in the year. On the online sportsbook front, SugarHouse Casino, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, and Parx Casino have all launched. As for online casino games, Hollywood Casino, SugarHouse Casino, and Parx Casino have gone live.
Apple creates a big problem for online gaming
Pennsylvania’s online gamblers have been successful accessing these new sites and apps using Android devices but the same hasn’t been true of Apple device users. While Android has downloadable online gaming apps that work, iOS apps that are for online gaming have disappeared from the app store or become non-functional. Apple device users can’t even access online gaming sites via their browser interface. All these problems are the result of Apple’s new policies.
Apple recently made changes to the requirements for iOS apps that deal in money transactions. Such apps must now be written in native iOS programming rather than outside app development languages like the much more frequently used HTML5.
Apple appears to be aiming at being able to ensure greater security for their users when using iOS devices for money transactions, but in doing so have made their mobile devices completely useless to customers using online gaming apps (most of which are written using HTML5).
It’s been a big problem until very recently.
PlaySugarHouse just launched their new online casino and when they did they also fixed this problem – at least for their customers.
Along with the iOS app language roadblock, Apple devices have had a problem with geolocation compliance. State online gaming regulators like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in PA require that users must be physically located in a particular state in order to access online gaming platforms sanctioned by that state. To ensure this, geolocation must be verified on the mobile device being used.
GeoComply is a geolocation service provider that has an iOS app called GeoGuard that Apple device users can use to finally access PA gaming sites. Well, two gaming sites, anyway. PlaySugarHouse made sure it’s mobile website was Geoguard compatible which has turned out to be a big deal.
Users can find it in the iOS app store under the name GeoGuard Location Validator.
iPad and iPhone users should go to the app store, search for “GeoGuard Location Validator” and download and install the app. During the installation process, make sure you select “Always Allow” location services for this app. Also make sure you click “Allow” when asked if the app can send you notifications. Both of these steps are important for the app to function correctly and allow access to these online gaming sites.
Once the app is installed, users can now open their browser and head to the PlaySugarHouse or BetRivers websites in PA. The GeoGuard app will tell the online gaming site where you are physically located and as long as you are currently in PA, your access will no longer be restricted.
PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers only have the work-around for now
Unfortunately, this iOS device hack will only work for PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers in Pennsylvania. Rush Street, the parent company of these two casinos (and others around the US) made sure to worked with GeoComply when setting their site up to make sure Apple’s customers could at least reach their gaming platforms via browser interface.
Eventually, online gaming apps written in native iOS language will be developed and this problem will go away. While Pennsylvanian Apple device users wait, at least they have an option to get around the obstacle.