msnTV, also called interactive TV or WebTV, allows people to surf the Net on their television. A small receiver is hooked up to a dial-up Internet connection and transmits the incoming signal to the television. It’s been around for a while now, and is popular with people who don’t want a computer or can’t figure out how to turn one on.
You can do a fair bit with msnTV, but unfortunately you can’t play at a lot of online casinos because the msnTV receivers aren’t able save a casino software package like a regular computer. That means msnTV gamblers have to play no-download games. Big deal, you say. There are plenty of no-download casinos out there, right? Well, sort of.
In addition to the whole download issue, msnTV is unable to handle the Java applications that run many no-download casino games. Microsoft, which purchased WebTV in 1997 and changed the name to msnTV, has been saying since 1999 that it plans to make the service Java-compatible, but very little has happened since that time. That leaves you with no-download Shockwave Flash or HTML games, and there are far fewer of these casinos at the moment.
Most sites offer either download games or no-download games but not both because of the development costs associated with what amounts to building a second casino. Some no-download sites offer HTML and / or Java games, but the HTML graphics and game quality are usually pretty rudimentary and as mentioned, Java is out for msnTV users. Because of all that, Flash games are about the only viable option for online wagering if you’re surfing with msnTV.
Microgaming offers one of the leading Flash Pragmatic casino packages, and about half of Microgaming’s licensees have no-download Flash games. The selection of games isn’t as extensive as in the download version, but the quality is good, you can play for real money, transactions are secure, and you can play the progressive jackpots. That makes selected Microgaming licensees, such as RiverBelle Online Casino and 7 Sultans Casino, a good starting point for msnTV-compatible casinos; other casinos that offer Flash games would also be worth checking.
Does that mean a casino has to say it’s msnTV-compatible in order to be? No. Theoretically, all no-download Flash games should be compatible with msnTV. But that doesn’t mean they will be, especially if you’re using an older receiver. msnTV users often face compatibility issues if their receivers have older software- or browser platforms. Larger Flash files may also cause older msnTV receivers to crash, forcing you to reconnect.
Most Microgaming Flash casinos only operate with Netscape 4.75 or higher, Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, and Flash 4 or higher. If you aren’t using the required versions, you may run into problems or be unable to play at all. Upgrades are made available to msnTV users, but they must be installed on the receiver.
So with all the hassle, why would anyone want to play at an online casino with msnTV? The answer in most cases is that you wouldn’t unless that’s your only option. You’ll get more games, better graphics, and a wider selection of casinos if you play on a computer.