US 20010005690 A1
Gaming apparatus (10) comprising a body (12) on which is presented a tangible or virtual roulette-type wheel (14), a plurality of tangible or virtual balls (16) locatable on the wheel (14), sensor means (18) operable to sense location of the balls (16) on the wheel (14) and comparison means (20) operable to compare the location of the balls (16) and pre-selected locations inputted into the apparatus (10) by a player, whereby to enable determination of the success of the player.
1. Gaming apparatus comprising:
a roulette-type wheel presented on said body,
a plurality of balls locatable on the wheel,
a sensor means operable to sense location of the balls on the wheel, and
a comparison means operable to compare the location of said balls and pre-selected locations inputted into the apparatus by a player, whereby to enable determination of the success of a player.
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 Gaming apparatus in this specification means apparatus, usually electrically powered and usually requiring credit for play, which provides entertainment for one or more players. There are many known types of gaming apparatus, including apparatus providing automated games of roulette.
 However, the traditional game of roulette is not attractive as the theme for gaming apparatus provided in a gaming arcade, because of the relatively long play time involved with each game. Moreover, the traditional game of roulette is often unfavourably received by in particular younger players of such apparatus.
 According to the present invention there is provided gaming apparatus comprising a body, a roulette-type wheel presented on said body, a plurality of balls locatable on the wheel, sensor means operable to sense location of the balls on the wheel and comparison means operable to compare the location of said balls and pre-selected location(s) inputted into the apparatus by a player, whereby to enable determination of the success of a player.
 Preferably the roulette type wheel is suitable to enable the conventional rules of roulette to be played and may be of generally traditional roulette wheel design. The wheel may comprise a base on which areas are defined, preferably with upwardly extending formations, where the balls can locate during use. Preferably each area only provides for location of a single ball therein. Control means may be provided to provide selective introduction of the balls to the wheel. Preferably the wheel rotates upon or prior to the introduction of the balls thereto, and stops spinning after a pre-determined period of time.
 Preferably means is provided to enable removal of balls from location on the wheel for supply to the control means The means may comprise a moveable base of the wheel on which balls rest when located and which is moveable to a position in which it enables the balls to move from the wheel, preferably to collection means. The control means may provide for selective blowing of balls from the collection means for re-introduction to the wheel. Alternatively, or in addition, the balls may be permanently resting on the wheel to be selectively moveable for random location during use. The balls may be moveable upon rotation of the wheel.
 Alternatively the roulette wheel may comprise the image of a wheel such as a video image, and the balls may comprise images of balls or similar such objects.
 Preferably the control means introduces balls to the wheel and/or the balls are moved over the wheel upon activation thereof, desirably following insertion of credit into the apparatus by a player.
 The apparatus preferably comprises selection means to enable a player to pre-select locations on the wheel before or during movement or introduction of the balls. The selection means may comprise buttons, touch sensitive surface(s) on which an illustration of the wheel or a related illustration is provided or other such suitable arrangement. Preferably the selection means enables a player to pre-select the same number of areas as balls on or to be introduced to the wheel, which number may be determined by the value of credit inserted in the apparatus.
 Preferably the sensor means comprises a sensor at in a predetermined position relative to the wheel and operable to sense the location of the balls in respective areas. The sensor means may comprise weight, magnetic and/or light-sensitive sensors. Alternatively or in addition a sensor may be provided in each of said areas and operable to sense the presence of a ball in the respective area.
 Preferably the comparison means comprises a processing unit operable to receive signals from the sensor means indicating the location of balls on the wheel and signals from the selection means indicating the area(s) pre-selected by a player, to compare these and to determine whether the player has successfully pre-selected one or more areas on which one or more balls have located, and to control the award or win according to the degree of pre-selection success.
 Removal means may be provided to remove the balls from location in the respective areas following completion of the game. The removal means may comprise means to move the wheel sufficiently quickly or otherwise to dislodge or allow for movement of the balls from location on the wheel.
 According to the further aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of automating a roulette-type game comprising inputting to apparatus a pre-selection of one or more of a plurality of areas defined on a roulette-type wheel apparatus, providing for random movement of a plurality of balls on the wheel for random location of the balls in a plurality of defined areas, sensing the areas in which balls have located, comparing these to the pre-selected area(s) inputted and determining the degree of success of a player in predicting the areas in which balls locate.
 The apparatus may be substantially as hereinbefore described in any of the previous ten paragraphs.
 An embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic side view of gaming apparatus according to the present invention; and
FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view of the apparatus of FIG. 1 from above.
 Referring to the drawings there is provided gaming apparatus 10 comprising a body 12 a roulette-type wheel 14 presented on said body 12, a plurality of balls 16 (FIG. 2) locatable on the wheel 14, sensor means 18 (FIG. 2) operable to sense location of the balls 16 on the wheel 14 and comparison means 20 operable to compare the location of said balls 16 and pre-selected locations inputted into the apparatus 10 by a player, whereby to enable determination of the success of the player.
 In more detail, the body 12 comprises a cabinet have a generally upstanding back portion 21 and a lower portion 22 presenting a generally horizontal surface 24 on which is rotatably mounted the roulette wheel 14.
 The wheel 14 is of generally traditional roulette wheel design, but it will be appreciated that although it is proposed the principal application of the apparatus 10 is to provide an improvement on the traditional rules of roulette, the apparatus could be used to provide for the play of variations on this.
 The wheel 14 (FIG. 2) comprises an inner section 25 around the circumference of which are defined a series of areas 26 between upstanding projections 28 which areas are where balls can locate in use, as will be explained. The sensor 18 is in fixed location beneath the wheel 14 to sense the location of the balls in the respective areas 26 in which they settle. The sensor may be of any suitable type, such as weight, magnetic and/or light sensor. The predetermined relative positions of the sensor 18 and the areas on the wheel 14 enable the sensor 18 to determine in which areas balls have located.
 The wheel comprises an outer section 30 which is sloped generally toward the areas 26 to direct the balls towards location in the areas 26. The inner section 25 is also sloped toward the areas 26 to also direct the balls toward location.
 The base 27 of the wheel 14 is moveable between a first position as shown in FIG. 1 in which it supports balls in location on the wheel 14, and a second position in which it enables balls to move from location on the wheel to a collecting trough 29. The trough 29 is sloped to direct the balls falling therein to accumulate in a position above a blower 31 which when actuated blows balls up a passage 33 for re-introduction to the wheel 14 through the inlet 35 as will be explained.
 The lower portion 22 also provides a surface 32 generally facing a player of the apparatus on which is provided a series of buttons 34, 36 which provide for the selection of areas on the wheel by a player as will be described.
 The selection buttons 34, 36 are electrically connected to the comparison means 20 as shown diagramatically at 38. The sensor 18 is connected by a connection shown diagramatically at 40 to the comparison means 20.
 The apparatus comprises slot 42 in which credit can be inserted into the apparatus for activation and play thereof. Credit inputted into the slot 42 is channelled in generally conventional manner to a credit store 44 which is connected to a credit payout slot 46. The comparison means 20 is connected as shown diagramatically at 48 to control the dispensing of credits from the store 44 as will be described.
 In use, the apparatus 10 requires the insertion of appropriate credit in the way of tokens, coins, credit cards or the like into the apparatus 10 for activation. Once sufficient credit has been inserted, the apparatus 10 is activated. In the embodiment shown in the drawings, three balls are used during play, but it will be appreciated that any number in a plurality of balls could be used.
 Once the credit has registered in the apparatus 10 and the apparatus 10 activated, a player pre-selects one or more areas 26 using the selection buttons 34, 36. In the conventional rules of roulette, the areas defined on the wheel alternate in colour, usually red and black, and the buttons 34 provide for selection of an appropriate colour.
 The areas 26 are also sequentially numbered, either in order or randomly, and the numeral buttons 36 provide for selection of one or more areas by number. The selection buttons 34, 36, and any other selection button considered appropriate, should provide for the usual combinations of area pre-selection/gamble as provided for according to the conventional roulette rules. Alternatively, of course, appropriate selection buttons can be provided according to variations on the traditional roulette rules.
 Once a player has pre-selected one or more area on the wheel, the wheel begins movement and balls 16 are introduced to the wheel 14. The blower 31 is actuated and blows balls up the passage 33 to exit the inlet 35 onto the wheel 14. Ideally the angle of entry of balls 16 onto the wheel 14 is such to direct them generally around the periphery of the wheel 14.
 After a pre-determined period of time, rotation of the wheel stops and the balls 16 are allowed to settle generally randomly into three area locations.
 The sensor 18 senses in which areas 26 the balls 16 have located and appropriate signals are sent to the comparison means 20, in the form of a processing unit. The signals relating to the pre-selected areas are also transmitted to the processing unit 20. The processing unit 20 then compares the locations pre-selected by the user and the areas in which the balls have actually located, and determines whether the player has successfully pre-selected one or more areas in which the balls have located, and if so what payout should be made to the player. Generally the more correctly pre-selected areas per game, the greater the payout. The processing unit 20 then sends a signal to the store 44 for an award to be dispensed through the payment slot 46.
 It will be appreciated that the use of a plurality of the balls provides considerable advantage over traditional roulette and provides for considerably more entertainment and variation than conventional roulette.
 Once play is complete, the balls are released from location on the wheel 14 by movement of the base 27. The balls collect in the trough 29 for reintroduction upon further actuation of the apparatus 10.
 Various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. For example, the roulette wheel and balls may be images of a roulette wheel or a roulette-type wheel and balls or similar objects. As mentioned above, the embodiment described above is described with reference to three balls in use, but it will be appreciated that any number in a plurality can be used. The wheel may be rotating as the player enters selection of areas during pre-selection.
 In the embodiment described above, the balls are introduced to the wheel during use, and in this embodiment the number of balls introduced could be varied, perhaps according to the amount of credit inputted into the apparatus. However, in accordance with an alternative embodiment the balls could be permanently sited on the wheel 14. In use, the balls are dislodged from location upon initial movement of the wheel 14 in use, whereby the balls move randomly over the top of the wheel 14. The balls will then settle generally randomly into location as they do in the previously described embodiment.
 Further, a sensor may be provided in each of the areas to sense the presence or otherwise of a ball in each respective area.
 Whilst endeavouring in the foregoing specification to draw attention to those features of the invention believed to be of particular importance it should be understood that the Applicant claims protection in respect of any patentable feature or combination of features hereinbefore referred to and/or shown in the drawings whether or not particular emphasis has been placed thereon.