CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application claims the benefit of provisional application Serial No. 60/287,341 filed Apr. 30, 2001.
- COPYRIGHT NOTICE
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records in a manner that constitutes fair use and reserves all copyrights rights whatsoever.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to a lottery game, and more particularly, to a lottery game and system that is accessible online, is played only when predetermined participation related conditions are satisfied and has a tiered or pyramid-like distribution method for distributing jackpots.
2. Description of the Background Art
With the advent of the globally accessible networks, such as the Internet, and the popularity of lottery games, there have been attempts to provide lottery type games that are accessible and playable on the Internet. Most of the on-line lottery games known comprise versions that either access or resemble existing state lotteries. The games known primarily award the main prize to participants that match all the numbers drawn and smaller prizes to participants have some but not all of the drawn numbers. In addition, the current lottery systems known offer extremely poor odds of winning the main jackpot because of the number of matches that are required to win. As a result, on-line lotteries and existing state lotteries are losing popularity and, in some instances, struggling. The gaming systems known in the art are profiled herein.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,842,278, issued to Markowicz, discloses a network of individual lottery systems such as state lotteries, interconnected such that players can participate in a national lottery. Each of the state lotteries operate independently using data entry and validation stations for accepting player data and having independent structure for selecting individual winners based upon coincidence of player-selected data and random data.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,324,035, issued to Morris, et al., discloses a gaming system including a central game processor, a plurality of master processing units and a plurality of slave terminals operable by players to select and play the games from a pool of games. The central game processor communicates with the master processing units and supplies the various games available in the system. The system provides video lottery plays and updates players on their chances of purchasing one of the remaining winning plays.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,904,619, issued to Scagnelli, et al., discloses a wagering system for accepting wagers over communications systems comprising an automatic call director means (ACD) for receiving incoming messages from subscribers who wish to wager on the system; message means (wagering VRU) connected thereto for receiving the incoming messages routed from the ACD, and for playing a series of recorded audio messages requesting subscriber wager information to be input via telecommunications means; and host processor means having storage means and being connected to the wagering VRU for receiving the subscriber wager information, storing it in a master subscriber wager file in the storage means, and assigning an associated ticket number to the wager. The system allows players to play conventional lottery games via a telecommunication system.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,146,272, issued to Walker et al., discloses a conditional lottery ticket system that processes conditional lottery ticket transactions, including the acceptance and validation of play entries, that does not activate purchased lottery tickets until one or more player defined activation conditions are satisfied, such as a minimum jackpot, particular date or external event. An external event could be based on a subscription. The conditional lottery ticket system preferably includes a central lottery server and one or more remote lottery terminals.
PCT Patent No. WO 96/00950, issued to Walker, discloses a remote gaming system whereby a player can gamble against a wagering establishment or state-run lottery from a remote location on a personal or portable computer device where it is unnecessary to establish an on-line connection with a host computer associated with the wagering establishment. The gaming computer has software for providing a wagering opportunity and enabling the player to obtain gambling credit and cash-out any winnings. The host computer enables the player to purchase and redeem gambling credit at a remote location using cryptographic protocols through a series of authenticatable message exchanges between the player and the establishment, the gaming computer and the host computer directly on-line, or the gaming computer and a detachable tamper-resistant credit module with preloaded gambling credit.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
As the above noted art fails to provide a lottery system and game that is accessible and playable on-line, offers jackpot winnings at much more favorable odds, distribute jackpot to persons matching most numbers in a pyramid-like format, there exist a need for a gaming system that fills this gap in the prior art. The instant invention solves this problem by providing such a game and system.
Based on the foregoing, it is a primary object of the instant invention to provide a globally accessible lottery-based system and game that provides improved odds for winning, a tiered system for awarding the jackpot, and a fixed number of plays per game.
It is also an object of the instant invention to provide a globally accessible lottery-based system and game that manages the collection, allocation, protection and dispersion of funds through secured communication links.
In light of these and other objects, the instant invention provides a globally accessible offshore lottery game comprised of software and the steps of selecting a plurality of numbers from a defined set, such as 1 to 53, comparing the player=s numbers to a United States lottery drawing (such as Florida) and distributing a predetermined jackpot, such as one million dollars ($1,000,000.00), to all winners having the most numbers that match the state lottery numbers. For instance, if no players get all six numbers, but say four players match five numbers, then the four players would split the jackpot. The winners are determined by the player or players that match the most numbers, even if it is a hundred players that match one number and no one else matches any. If no tickets match any of the numbers, then the purse is used for the next drawing and the players that play again receive a discount on their next ticket, such as 50%. The money is always distributed unless no one matches any of the numbers. The game is not played until a certain number of tickets are sold. If more than the designated numbers of tickets are sold, then the extra tickets are applied to the next drawing. Based on the teachings of the invention, the jackpot is conveniently manageable and predictable, the host realizes guaranteed revenue, players have an improved chance of winning the jackpot even if they do not match all numbers, cash never exchanges hands, the system is able to distribute winnings automatically and players can play from any remote location.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
In accordance with these and other objects, which will become apparent hereinafter, the instant invention will now be described with particular reference to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a system block diagram of the preferred system of the globally accessible lottery system and game of the instant invention.
FIGS. 2A and 2B are software flow charts of the host website of the globally accessible lottery system and game of the instant invention.
FIGS. 3A-3C are a software flow diagram of the preferred method and system for establishing membership, registering to play, selecting a game, drawing numbers and paying to play in accordance with the globally accessible lottery system and game of the instant invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIGS. 4A-4C are a software flow diagram of the preferred method and system for playing a game and distributing winnings in accordance with the globally accessible lottery system and game of the instant invention.
With reference to the drawings, FIGS. 1-4C depict the preferred and alternative embodiments of the globally accessible lottery game and system of the instant invention, which is generally characterized by the reference numeral 10 or on-line lottery game 10. Referring to FIG. 1, the system of the instant invention 10 comprises a host website 12 made available on a globally accessible network 40, a plurality of databases 24, 26, 28, 30, an escrow account 18, a host account 16, a merchant account 14, user accounts 22, a central computer or central processing unit 20, and software 200 and/or 300 that is readable and processible by the processing unit 20 for controlling the access and content in the databases 24-30, website 12 and financial accounts 14-18, 22. The instant invention further comprises the software 200 and/or 300 apart from the system, the method of processing and/or the method of playing the on-line lottery game 10.
Players wishing to access, use and/or play the on-line lottery game 10 preferably access the host website 12 through a globally accessible network 40, a locally accessible network or direct link 50. The host website 12 preferably includes a fire wall or other secured connection to provide secure communications when receiving and/or providing data. The lottery numbers database 24 receives and stores the winning lottery numbers for various state run lotteries. The games database 26 receives and stores a plurality of games which may be selected and played by members and registrants with the on-line lottery system 10. The players database 28 receives and stores information pertaining to registered players and players having memberships to play at least one game. Membership database 30 receives and stores registrant membership information on all players having current memberships with the on-line lottery system 10. It should be noted that databases 24-30 may comprise a single database partitioned for storing the respective information noted herein in a plurality of partitions or two or more databases.
With reference to FIG. 1, the links between the host website 12 and merchant account 14, host account 16 and/or escrow account 18 preferably comprises a secured and direct link so as to alleviate or eliminate the interception of transferred information. The communication links denoted by two solid lines preferably comprise telecommunications links having sufficient band width for transmitting data comprising financial account-related information and monetary wire transfers. Although the communication links denote communication between fields, such as between host website 12 and host account 16, the communication link does not necessarily include access to all information in the programs 200 and 300, website 12 or databases 24-30. For instance, although the host website 12 is linked to the host account 16, users visiting the host website 12 do not have access to the host account 16. Likewise, the on-line lottery system 10 may comprise links to a user's account 22 for receiving payment for tickets and transferring winnings into the user's account, but it preferably does not provide direct access to the user's account information and cannot receive funds from the user account 22 unless authorization has been given. The communication links denoted by two phantom lines comprise optional links. For instance, the escrow account 18 is preferably linked to the host account 16 but it may be linked to the host website 12 for directly transmitting jackpot funds into the escrow account 18. Similarly, the merchant account 14 may be linked to the host website 12 so as to more directly controlling the transfer of funds from the merchant account to the host account 16 and escrow account 18. It should be noted that the communication links 13 and/or 15 may, but do not necessarily have to, be direct and line links. The links may comprise a wired or wireless system, such as a Packet Switching Network (PSN) or any packet, cell or similar network in which data compiled, partitioned, and/or transmitted in packet-like units. In a wireless system, the invention may also employ Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) technology or other known wireless publicly accessible communication technology. The links between the data bases 24-30 and host website and cpu/software and server system 20 denote conventional links as is known in the art. The links shown between the host website 12 and globally accessible network 40 and direct link 50 denote conventional network links such as that provided by modems, DSL and wireless systems having compatible bandwidth.
The invention includes accounts for managing funds. The merchant account 14, host account 16 and escrow account 18 are preferably linked to the host website 12 and/or CPU/software system 20 through secured links. At least one account out of the three is necessary for managing the receipt of funds and the distribution of winnings. A single host account 16 may be arranged to electronically receive payment for tickets, disburse payment to the host company and disburse the jackpot to winners. In order to avoid complications that may arise from managing funds through a single account, the instant invention 10 preferably employs a plurality of accounts, such as those depicted by characters 14, 16, 18 and 22. For instance, the host account 16 may be used to receive the payments for lottery tickets and to act as a liaison for transferring money from the host account 16 to the escrow account 18 and the merchant account 14, and if used, user accounts 22. That is, a user account 22 may be directly linkable to the host account 16 so that funds may be directly transferred into the host account for authorizing payment and tickets. In the preferred embodiment, when a user registers with the on-line lottery system 10 funds are initially received by the host account 16 and distributed to the merchant account 14 and escrow account 18, respectively. Alternatively, the initial funds may be received through a merchant account 14, which is initially set up through the host account 16 or host website 12. In either arrangement, a predetermined percentage of the funds received are held in the host account for covering the costs of the on-line lottery system 10, while a predetermined percentage of the funds are transferred to an escrow account 18 for disbursement to players that win the jackpot. The CPU/software and server system 20 may manage the allocation of funds between the various accounts 14, 16, 18 and/or 22.
With reference to FIG. 2, an example of the preferred website pages and links is shown. When the host website address is accessed through a globally accessible network 40, the home page of the host website 12 is first made available. While other pages may be accessed first based on the website address accessed through the Internet, in one embodiment it is preferred that all Internet traffic be directed through the home page 21 for security reasons. The host website 12 comprises a home page 121, a registration page 122, a contact information page 123, a rules and regulations page 124, a membership page 127 and a “play the game” page 129. The registration, contact, rules and regulations, membership, and game pages 122-129 are preferably linked to the home page 121 such that all pages are accessible from the home page 121. In addition to providing links to the other pages on the website 12, as well as linked to other websites on the Internet, the home page may provide general information on the lottery game 10, such as general information regarding the method in which the game is played, odds of winning, benefits derived from directing traffic to the website 12 and other information to encourage registrations and participation. Registration page 122 requests and obtains information from visitors wishing to register with the on-line lottery game 10. The registration page, therefore, has a plurality of fields for receiving and processing registrant information, such as name, address, zip code and e-mail address, as depicted by block 123. The registration information obtained from the registration page 122 allows the host website 12 to update information related to the lottery game 10, future games and any other information of interest. The rules and regulations page 124 provides the ability to read 125 the rules and regulations governing the lottery game 10 and an “I accept button” 126 that contractually binds registrants and members with regard to the game and its rules 10. It should be noted that the registration page also allows the host website 12 to entice registrants to become members and/or to refer traffic to the site in exchange for potentially receiving a percentage of a jackpot if any referral should win. The membership page 127 confirms registrant information and contractually establishes membership with the host website 12. A registrant must become a member to play the lottery game 10. Membership is approved in block 128. In order to play the game, the “play the game page” 129 is accessed and activated.
The on-line lottery game 10 of the instant invention communicates with visitors, registrants and members using e-mail addresses. In order to participate in the on-line lottery game 10 of the instant invention a user must have an internet address. The host website 12 uses e-mail addresses to communicate with registrants and members. This information may include new games, next drawing, winning numbers, membership related information and notification of winnings.
Prior to participating in a lottery game in accordance with the instant invention 10, a player must first obtain a membership and register with the host website 12. In the registration process, the user is required to provide credit card and/or wire transfer information for making payment towards lottery tickets and receiving winnings. This is preferably achieved through a globally accessible network 40, such as the Internet, but may also be achieved through a direct telecommunication link or locally accessible network 50. Once a player registers with the host website 12 as a member, that information is stored in the membership database 30. Each time a player pays and participates in a game, that information is stored in a player's database 28. In one embodiment, the instant invention 10 may comprise a plurality of games, such as those dictated by the lottery drawings in various states. The instant invention 10 preferably uses the lottery numbers drawn from various state lotteries to allow verification of winning numbers and legitimacy of the game.
The game of the instant invention 10 comprises an on-line lottery where participants purchase tickets and pick numbers from a predetermined set, such as 1 to 53, with the hopes of matching the lottery numbers from a predetermined lottery drawing. Instant invention 10 preferably only sells a certain number of tickets before each drawing, such as 80,000 tickets such that there must be and would only be 80,000 tickets sold for each and every lottery. The winning numbers maybe tied to the U.S. Florida lottery drawn on Saturdays or Wednesdays, or some other predetermined state lottery. A predetermined jackpot will be set for each lottery, which is preferably $1,000,000 in a preferred embodiment. The jackpot is divided among the players that correctly picked the most numbers from the corresponding state lottery. This makes for a tamper proof lottery. If, however, no one picks all six numbers, then the winners will be determined by the participants picking the most correct numbers. For instance, if no one picks six of six numbers, then the $1,000,000.00 jackpot would be divided among those with five of six numbers. If no one picks five of six numbers, then the jackpot is divided among those selecting four of the six numbers. If no one picks four of six numbers, then the jackpot is divided among those that selected three of the six numbers. If no one picks three of the six numbers, then the jackpot is divided among those with two of six numbers. If no one picks two of six numbers, then the jackpot is divided among those with one of six numbers. If no one picks any of the numbers correctly, then the $1,000,000.00 is either held until the next drawing or used to provide the participants with a discount, such as 50%, or credit towards the purchase of their next lottery ticket(s). For instance, if each lottery ticket sells for $25.00 and 80,000 tickets are sold, then the $1,000,000.00 jackpot would be comprised of half the lottery ticket price, i.e., $12.50. Consequently, if no one wins that drawing, then a $12.50 credit will be issued to each player for purchasing future tickets. Depending on the number of participants that take advantage of the credit, the next jackpot drawing would still not be done until 80,000 tickets or some other predetermined number of tickets have been sold.
Unlike the Florida lottery which has no jackpot winners (“jackpot” meaning the main prize) if six numbers are not correctly picked, then the prize rolls over to the next drawing, there will always be a winner for the on-line lottery system 10 of the instant invention once the minimum number of tickets have been sold. Consequently, there is a greater chance of winning the jackpot or a portion thereof because all six numbers do not have to be picked correctly in order to win.
Referring to FIGS. 3A-3C, the method and system for processing participants is shown. The method in system 4 processing participants preferably comprises establishing membership, registering to play, selecting a game, drawing numbers and paying. The invention 10 may comprise a registration process and/or membership process to offer more flexible services, such as allowing those who do not want to play as a member but want to refer new members so they can win if the new member wins as further described here. To initiate processing, a user first logs in and verifies whether they are a new or previous visitor. If the visitor is new user, i.e. not a registrant or member, the visitor is queried for information pertaining to establishing a new account, such as name, address, e-mail address and bank account information 202-206. The program verifies the accuracy and solvency of the visitor's account 208. Upon verifying the accuracy of the information submitted, a membership is established and the new member is authorized to participate in the on-line lottery system 10, 208, 210. Prior to playing, a member may access game-related information 212, such as the number of tickets remaining for the next drawing 214, rules and odds of winning 216, information on prior winners 218, and various links to other sites 220. Upon reviewing such information, the member is given the option of playing 222. If the member opts not to play, then they may log out or continue reviewing information pertaining to the game 224-226. A member may also directly play upon logging in 228. Thereafter, the member may need to register to play the next game 230. All information pertaining to the member for the next drawing is stored in the database, preferably the players per game database 28 or the membership database 30. The on-line lottery game 10 may comprise one lottery game or a plurality of lottery games from which a member can select to play. In the embodiment comprising multiple games, the member must select a game to play 234. The available games may be based on select state lottery drawings 236, numbers taken and combined from multiple state lotteries 238 or on other numbers readily verifiable 240.
After selecting a game, the member draws or selects its lottery numbers for the play ticket 242. Numbers may be randomly selected using a random number generator 244 or personally selected 246. The lottery ticket is not issued until the predetermined number of numbers are selected. The lottery tickets preferably comprise six numbers in a predetermined range, such as 1 through 53. It should be noted that the number of play numbers per ticket and number range may vary without departing from the scope and spirit of the instant invention. Once a valid ticket has been completed, the ticket information is stored in a database, preferably in the players per game database 28. Upon completing a ticket selection, the member is offered the opportunity to purchase additional tickets 250. If the member elects to purchase additional tickets, then the program is redirected to the subroutine or program object for selecting games 234. It should be noted that in an alternative embodiment multiple tickets maybe purchased at one time. Members are given the option of playing multiple games and/or purchasing multiple tickets. Once the member elects not to purchase any more tickets, the lottery ticket order is confirmed and finalized 252.
Upon finalizing the order, the member is given the total amount due and must authorize payment from a previously approved credit card or bank account providing wire transfer abilities 256, 258. When a member purchases a lottery ticket for a drawing that does not yield any winners, their account is credited with approximately fifty percent (50%) of the purchase price for each ticket purchased for that drawing for use with future lottery ticket purchases. Accordingly, the processing program applies player discounts to future lottery ticket purchase 254. The credit may be applied before or after finalizing an order. Once the full purchase price, including credits, have been confirmed, funds are drawn from the user's account 258. This is preferably done by a direct wire transfer from the member's bank account or applying the charge to the member's credit card account. The program verifies and confirms whether funds have cleared once processed. If the funds do not clear, then the member is notified and must be reprocessed 262, 264. Once the funds have cleared, the member's lottery tickets are cleared and activated and the member's account is charged 268.
Payment for lottery tickets are allocated into the escrow account 18 and the host account 16 at predetermined percentages. In the preferred embodiment, approximately fifty percent (50%) of the ticket purchase price is held in an escrow account 18 and approximately 50% of the purchase price is held in the host account 16. In the preferred embodiment, money for ticket purchases are initially deposited into the host website's merchant account 14, as shown in block 270. Once the funds clear, the money is taken from the merchant account 14 and deposited into the host account 16 and escrow account 18 based on predetermined allocation percentages. The escrow account 18 preferably holds funds comprising the jackpot. The host account 16 holds funds that go to the host website owner for covering costs and profit margins, as shown in block 272. Thereafter or some time before, the database of players per game 28 is updated with information on new players and their ticket purchases 276.
Each time a new ticket entry is made into the database for players per game 28, a ticket counter is incremented by the number of new tickets 278. The number of tickets sold for each game are continuously monitored so as to determine when the ticket threshold has been reached 280, 282. If the number of tickets sold does not meet the threshold level, then the game is postponed until the requisite number of tickets have been sold 284, 286. Once the required number of tickets have been sold, no more ticket purchases will be applied to the next drawing and the next drawing is then announced at least one (1) day before the lottery drawing. In order to insure security and alleviate potential tampering, tickets are preferably not sold one hour before and one hour after the corresponding state lottery drawing. As only a limited number of tickets are sold per game, once the ticket threshold has been reached, then any new ticket purchases will be applied to the following lottery drawing. Upon determining the lottery drawing date, all members who purchase tickets for the lottery drawing are given notice of the drawing date, preferably by electronic mail. Thereafter, the processing program 200 directs the user to start 290, homepage 292 or a display of other tickets sold and/or available for the next drawing 294.
In an alternative embodiment, a game or games may be provided in which the lottery drawing is made at predetermined intervals, such as once a month or week, and the corresponding jackpot comprises half or approximately half of the finds received for the that jackpot. Players may elect to play either game, that is the one based on a fixed number of ticket purchases or the one based on time intervals. Players may further have the option to chose from a variety of games that differ in ticket price and jackpot, and/or differ in the timing of the drawing and determination of the jackpot as noted above. For instance, a ticket for $25.00 could correspond to a $1,000,000 jackpot, a $50.00 ticket could correspond to a $2,000,000 jackpot, a $100.00 ticket could correspond to a $4,000,000 jackpot and so on. These jackpots would be based on a fixed ticket sale requirement, such as 80,000 tickets. These games could also be played in accordance with the alternative embodiment wherein drawings are done at specified times and the jackpot varies based on the number of tickets sold and is preferably approximately half of the ticket revenue for that drawing.
With reference to FIGS. 4A-4C, the software comprising the game and distribution of winnings 300 is shown. Once the required number of lottery tickets are sold, the game playing routine 300 confirms and activates the game to be played on the designated date 302, 304. The game playing routine 300 may also verify the players registered for the next drawing 306. The game playing software 300 may also store and lock the playing tickets electronically to insure security. In those embodiments having multiple games available, the game playing routine 300 would access the game database to find the game selected for play. If the lottery drawing is going to be based on a select state lottery, such as Florida, then the routine looks for that state lottery in the database 312. The routine 300 tracks the state lottery and obtains and stores the winning numbers in the database of state lottery winning numbers 24 (314, 316). On the other hand, if the game to be played is based on a number of lotteries or other predetermined numbers, then the routine 300 accesses the information related to those numbers, tracking the state lotteries, and obtaining and storing the lottery numbers in the database 24. The numbers drawn from multiple state lotteries are organized into the winning number for determining the winning number 324. Once the winning numbers have been determined from the selected game, the game routine 300 accesses the database of issued tickets 326. The purchased tickets are compared to the winning numbers 328. The game routine 300 first determines whether any of the issued tickets matched all six numbers. If a ticket matches all six numbers, then the routine confirms the winning ticket, divides the winnings if there are multiple winning tickets, confirms and notifies the winners, confirms the winner's account and wires the winnings from the escrow account database 18 to the winning member's account 330-342. If, however, no tickets match all six numbers then the game routine 300 looks for tickets which match five of six numbers 344. If no ticket has matches five of six numbers, then the game routine looks for four of six numbers and then three of six and then two of six and then one of six 346-352. If no numbers match, then the participants are given a 50% discount on next ticket purchase, which may come from the escrow account or host account.
In the alternative embodiment, the instant invention may also comprise a secondary method of winning which is based on the primary method of winning. That is, a first non-participant, which is preferably but not necessarily a registrant, identifies and conveys or communicates to a second non-participant the host address of the instant invention 10. The second non-participant accesses the website and successfully completes registration and/or membership procedures in accordance with FIGS. 3A-3C and provides the address of the first non-participant. The first non-participant is then converted to a new participant and/or registrant if not already registered. If the new registrant or participant wins a drawing, then the first non-participant who directed the new registrant receives a predetermined percentage of the jackpot, such as ten percent, which preferably comes from the host account funds and not the jackpot finds.
The instant invention has been shown and described herein in what is considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment. It is recognized, however, that departures may be made therefrom within the scope of the invention and that obvious structural and/or functional modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art.