When President Barack Obama wants to play a quick hand of online blackjack – perfectly legal, although if Congress found out about his predilection for the game the legislature might hastily pass more restrictive Internet gambling laws than it already has – he has to do it by pulling out his BlackBerry. The government issues all its high-ranking officials a BlackBerry device because it is deemed to be the most secure smartphone available.
That may be because hackers see no reason to waste time with such an insignificant audience. As recently as 2010 BlackBerry claimed more than 40 percent of the smartphone market. Today fewer than two out of every 100 smartphones sold around the world is a BlackBerry. Whoops.
It did not start out as a sad story. When the Canadian telecommunication and wireless equipment company Research in Motion (RIM) released its BlackBerry 957 in 2000 the term “smartphone” was not even in vogue – it was clumsily referred to as a “wireless handheld device.” So many people buried their noses in their new phones checking email, oblivious to anything and everything around them, that the new devices were called “CrackBerrys.”
After the Apple iPhone and touchscreen technology was introduced in 2007 BlackBerry and its physical QWERTY keyboard at first held its own in the marketplace. But when Google introduced the open-sourced Android platform and users began favoring their mobile devices more more apps than checking email and making phone calls, the BlackBerry operating system was trampled.
BlackBerry tried the touchscreen technology but resisted the adoption of apps, which co-founder Jim Balsillie considered time-wasting toys. The result is the pioneering brand has become mostly fodder for jokes and apocalyptic metaphors. Most recently RIM introduced the BlackBerry Classic which welded its newest operating system technology back onto its beloved clamshell design with the physical keyboard. Even with RIM’s fitful struggles over the past several years there are still millions of BlackBerry users. And some of them are gamblers.
What are the options for the BlackBerry online gambler?
Obviously given its dwindling prominence in the mobile market casino software developers are not devoting many resources to the BlackBerry. It does not help the cause of BlackBerry gamblers that the prime market for the devices is security-conscious governments and big businesses. There is no casino that would consider itself a “BlackBerry Casino” but that does not mean there are not opportunities for users to gamble online with the platform.
BlackBerry has long maintained a dislike-hate relationship with downloadable applications. The company was forced into the app business by its competitors and BlackBerry users, who take pride that their devices are business-only tools, hate them. The BlackBerry World app store returns just over 100 hits for “casino” in the search engine; Google Play has too many to count. The apps available for download on the device are uninspired and eminently forgettable; only three were developed to be optimized for the BlackBerry operating system – two slot machines and a poker app. Like apps for Android or IOS none of these applications can be played for real money in the United States due to restrictive gambling laws.
Only a few online casinos offer an app downloadable to a BlackBerry. Users will need to visit individual websites to discover if this service is available. All this does not sound promising for the aspiring BlackBerry punter. What’s left?
The BlackBerry operating system will permit users to download mobile gaming from online casinos that have developed a compatible version for on-the-go players. The graphic presentation may not be as sharp as an app and the game selection will be more limited but you should be able to find at least one variation of your favorite casino games – slots, blackjack, craps, roulette or blackjack are all usually represented. Bingo, keno, baccarat and video poker are often on offer as well.
The advantage is that BlackBerry users can gamble for real money when using no-download online casinos through a browser. You can still play free games for practice while standing in the line at the dispensary without risking real money. Opening an account with an online casino is as safe as any other Internet transaction and can be done with a credit card, eWallet or any method preferred at the casino of choice. Sign-up bonuses are available to BlackBerry players as well.
There are still plenty of choices for a BlackBerry bettor to find tables at online casinos so test the different houses with a small amount of play to determine if the withdrawal procedures are satisfactory. With Internet gambling more than a decade old at this point most online casinos will be fair or they would be out of business. But you can still conduct deeper test with small amounts of money and comparing results against those expected returns for different games. Table game bets are reconciled by random number generators rather than human dealers and croupiers. Gambling online is as safe as any other Internet transaction and if it not legal the server will generally bar the site from appearing anyway.
The future of BlackBerry-compatible casinos is as uncertain as for the device itself. In the super-sonic speed of the digital age the BlackBerry went from the top of the smartphone food chain to laughed-about relic in barely a decade. Its devotees are fiercely loyal but they increasingly resemble a polar bear trapped on an ice floe as the waters warm. At this point Research in Motion appears to be holding a 19 against the dealer’s twenty. Maybe they will pull a deuce.