Despite their deep devotion to Apple products, Mac users have
for years been locked out of many interesting markets because of
incompatibilities between the software designed for Microsoft
Windows PCs and the Mac world. It was always up to the
application developer to decide whether to engineer two versions
of its software, one for the Mac community and one for the
The Internet has leveled the playing field through the use of
third-party tools like HTML and Adobe Flash. Browser-based
gaming became less dependent upon the user’s operating system
because the browsers and Flash plugins they were using took
responsibility for handling the special functions of the gaming
needs. Developers don’t have to write special download
applications for Mac users if they can play the games
Still, with more than 2,000 licensed online gaming sites to
choose from, we have found there are some sites that are
distinctly more Mac-friendly than others. These sites use more
modern, up-to-date game software, and they provide more options
for players. Some online casinos still offer only PC-compatible
downloads, which eliminate Mac users.
We recommend these Mac-friendly casinos because we have
played them ourselves and trust them.
Why Are There Differences Between Mac and PC Software?
The Mac platform now runs on a version of the Linux operating
system. The Windows operating system is proprietary and uses a
different set of commands from the Linux system. Software, in
order to function on a computer, must make requests to the
operating system to interact with data files and the peripheral
devices. Peripheral devices are everything not included in the
Central Processing Unit (CPU) including the keyboard, disk
drive, monitor, and speakers.
It’s a curious thing that two different operating systems can
use the exact same devices. Every computer’s peripheral devices
have their own set of commands. Every operating system must use
those same commands to control those devices. So why is it that
two different operating systems cannot use the same software?
There are two reasons: first, each operating system has its
own set of commands for controlling the devices. Second, the
operating system commands represent bundles of device commands
and each operating system uses the devices in slightly different
Websites use device-independent and operating
system-independent programming languages like Java, Javacscript,
and Flash to send commands to Web browsers. Each browser is
compiled specifically for the operating system it is written on,
so the browsers act as intermediaries that ensure the
device-independent commands work about the same way regardless
of the computer you are using.
Playing a casino game on your computer is bit like playing
the classic children’s game of “Telephone”. The casino site
sends a command to the browser. The browser translates the
command into the operating system language. The operating system
translates the command into device language. The device then
responds and sends a message to the operating system. The
operating system then sends a message to the browser. And
finally the browser sends a message back to the Website.
Whew! That’s a lot of work just to roll the dice, draw
a card, or spin the reels!
Playing Casino Games with a Mac
Most casinos still offer downloadable software to their
members. There are some advantages to using downloadable
software, as it allows the player’s computer to do more things.
The games should also run faster if they are running primarily
on your computer, although to comply with licensing regulations
the games must technically remain in communication with the
Most online casinos still offer only a PC version of the
downloadable software but we have noticed a growing number of
sites offering Mac downloads too.
But browser based gaming has become very popular because it
Not every game offers a browser version but
their number is growing. And we have also seen a trend toward
designing new games in HTML5, which is very powerful and
flexible compared to the aging Flash platform. In fact, Adobe is
no longer updating Flash and browsers have begun withdrawing
support for it. HTML5 is the wave of the future.
The greatest advantage of using browser based gaming is that
you don’t have to download a new app every time your operating
system updates. Your browser will be updated for you and it will
maintain compatibility with the HTML5 coded games.
One area where downloadable games was always better than in
browser games was the quality of the graphics. But as Internet
connections have become faster, browsers have become better, and
gaming software has been updated to work with modern browsers
these distinctions are becoming less noticeable. Online gamers
are now more likely to use in browser versions of video poker,
blackjack, baccarat, slot games, and poker games. Hence, Mac
users have more options than they once did.
Sports Betting Online from a Mac
There is a world of difference between sports betting and
playing casino games on a computer. No special software is
needed. Sports betting Websites only require that you log into
their server side dashboards with a standard browser. The
browser handles everything for you.
Mac users report a great experience with sports betting sites
because the Mac system is less buggy than the Windows system.
Linux is a very stable and powerful environment and it often
excels over Windows in any Web based application that uses
standard displays like tables and user data forms.
Online Poker Using a Mac
If you tried playing poker on a Mac in the early 2000s you
probably wanted to throw your computer across the room. The
experience was distasteful because the online poker rooms were
designed for the more numerous Windows players. However, because
of advances in technology on the Mac, on servers, and in general
Web browsing tools the Mac user experience is much, much better
these days. We have found that most poker sites now offer Mac
Instant play poker is handled as an in browser game just like
many casino games. Hence, you only need an updated browser to
start playing poker online from your Mac. In browser graphics
for poker games should run more smoothly and reliably for the
majority of Mac users and your Internet connection is more
likely to be the cause of any problems you experience than your
browser or operating system.
The advantages in using download software to play poker on a
Mac remain the same but in lesser degrees: you have a more
stable gaming experience, the quality of the graphics tends to
be better, and you have a few more options to choose from as you
play. And the play may be faster for you in some ways, although
you still have to wait on the other players.
Can You Play Windows Games on a Mac?
There are compatibility programs you can install on a Mac
that emulate the Windows operating system. We have not tested
these compatibility tools with any downloadable software. What
you will find is that the emulation layer runs as an application
on top of the Mac operating system, which means the Windows apps
will run more slowly than if they were being operated natively
on a comparable Windows PC.
In some cases the difference in performance won’t matter much
but if you prefer the Mac playing experience for poker and other
gambling games we recommend that you stick with either native
Mac download software or just use your Mac browser for online
game play. If you are immensely curious and you have already
installed a Windows emulator then you can experiment but we do
feel this is unnecessarily risky. Why trade off superior
performance for a potentially slower gaming experience?
Mac users enjoy more options and opportunities for online
gambling now than ever before. And yet despite the growth in
adoption of new Web standards it remains a challenge to find
good choices for the Mac audience because as a minority of
online players they represent a less valued investment among
many online gaming companies. That is why it is so important to
understand the strengths and limits of the Mac marketplace.
We are confident in the recommendations we make because we
have extensive experience in the online gaming world as players
A good recommendation takes several things into
consideration, not just the compatibility of the software with
your home computer. You should also be concerned about
reputation and user experience.
The decision to use a Mac over a Windows PC is a deeply
personal one but in general Mac users are very satisfied with
the power and performance of their Apple products. That kind of
satisfaction is hard to maintain when running Windows emulation
software because of the decrease in performance. That is why we
make a special effort to recommend truly Mac friendly casinos so
that your online gaming experience need not be a compromise in
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