A lot of Internet gambling observers are predicting that 2011 will be (among other things) the year that mobile gambling finally breaks through into the larger public.

A taste of that breakthrough could be seen this year with Full Tilt’s Rush Poker Mobile, which Chris “Fox” Wallace over at PokerNewsDaily.com called “the biggest poker news story of 2010.” (He doesn’t just mean Internet poker news — he means poker news, period.)

“It might not be the biggest story right now, but it will probably bring about some significant legal changes,” Wallace wrote. “Seeing people playing poker on the bus, in the halls at work, at the bar, or anywhere that people congregate – and seeing all of those people playing online poker for real money on their phones – will change public perception.

So why aren’t there more online gaming or poker mobile apps? Well, the obvious answer is regulatory problems. That’s the only thing really stopping mobile gambling from exploding in 2011. U.S. developers aren’t going to waste resources building technology that American players can’t use. However, this climate is changing, although slowly, as this recent business story shows.

Because of these regulatory hurdles, the main problem with mobile gambling from our perspective is the lack of gaming and poker affiliate programs for mobile applications. Aside from Full Tilt’s Rush Poker and a solid offering from 32Red, and a handdful of others, affiliate marketing hasn’t really built a business model around mobile gaming yet.

But that doesn’t mean that gaming affiliates can’t promote mobile gaming as a concept, or inquire with the affiliate managers of their preferred casino affiliate programs about enacting mobile affiliate marketing for 2011 (and beyond).

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