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Publication numberUS20030211884 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/142,104
Publication dateNov 13, 2003
Filing dateMay 8, 2002
Priority dateMay 8, 2002
Publication number10142104, 142104, US 2003/0211884 A1, US 2003/211884 A1, US 20030211884 A1, US 20030211884A1, US 2003211884 A1, US 2003211884A1, US-A1-20030211884, US-A1-2003211884, US2003/0211884A1, US2003/211884A1, US20030211884 A1, US20030211884A1, US2003211884 A1, US2003211884A1
InventorsMichael Gauselmann
Original AssigneeMichael Gauselmann
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming machine with hidden jackpot
US 20030211884 A1
Abstract
A gaming method and system are described where a visible jackpot and an invisible jackpot are accumulated for a plurality of gaming machines connected in a network. The visible jackpot is paid when one of the gaming machines in the plurality achieves certain criteria. The visible jackpot is at least partially replenished from the invisible jackpot. The amount in the visible jackpot may be displayed, either on a display common to multiple gaming machines in the network, or on each gaming machine in the network. The visible and invisible jackpots may be accumulated by increasing the amount in each of the visible jackpot and the invisible jackpot by a percentage of each amount bet on the gaming machines in the network. In some embodiments, the invisible jackpot accumulates faster than the visible jackpot.
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Claims(27)
What is being claimed is:
1. A gaming method performed in a system of a plurality of gaming machines connected in a network comprising:
accumulating a visible jackpot, visible to players, common to the plurality of gaming machines;
accumulating an invisible jackpot, not visible to players, common to the plurality of gaming machines;
paying the visible jackpot to one of the plurality of gaming machines meeting certain criteria; and
at least partially replenishing the visible jackpot using at least a portion of the invisible jackpot.
2. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein an amount of the invisible jackpot used to replenish the visible jackpot is calculated based on an amount in the invisible jackpot.
3. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein the certain criteria comprise an amount of the visible jackpot, the method further comprising:
calculating the certain criteria amount based on the amount used to at least partially replenish the visible jackpot.
4. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein the certain criteria comprise an amount of the visible jackpot.
5. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein the certain criteria comprise an amount of the invisible jackpot.
6. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein the certain criteria comprise a number of plays of the plurality of gaming machines.
7. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein the certain criteria comprise a certain symbol combination obtained by one of the plurality of gaming machines.
8. The gaming method of claim 1 further comprising:
displaying the visible jackpot on a display device.
9. The gaming method of claim 8 wherein the display device is common to more than one gaming machine in the plurality of gaming machines.
10. The gaming method of claim 8 wherein the display device is incorporated into each of said gaming machines.
11. The gaming method of claim 1 wherein accumulating a visible jackpot comprises increasing an amount of the visible jackpot by a first percentage of each bet placed on the plurality of gaming machines.
12. The gaming method of claim 11 wherein accumulating an invisible jackpot comprises increasing an amount of the invisible jackpot by a second percentage of each bet placed on the plurality of gaming machines.
13. The gaming method of claim 12 wherein the second percentage is greater than the first percentage.
14. The gaming method of claim 12 wherein the second percentage is about twice the first percentage.
15. A gaming system comprising:
a plurality of gaming machines connected within a network;
a computer connected to the network, the computer comprising instructions for:
accumulating a visible jackpot common to the plurality of gaming machines;
accumulating an invisible jackpot common to the plurality of gaming machines;
paying the visible jackpot to one of the plurality of gaming machines meeting a certain criteria; and
after paying the visible jackpot, at least partially replenishing the visible jackpot using at least a portion of the invisible jackpot; and
a display device connected to the network that displays the visible jackpot.
16. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the certain criteria comprise an amount of the visible jackpot.
17. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the computer further comprises instructions for calculating an amount of the invisible jackpot used to replenish the visible jackpot based on a total amount in the invisible jackpot.
18. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein the computer further comprises instructions for determining a new certain criteria based on an amount used to replenish the visible jackpot.
19. The gaming system of claim 15 wherein accumulating a visible jackpot comprises increasing an amount of the visible jackpot by a first percentage of each bet placed on the plurality of gaming machines.
20. The gaming system of claim 19 wherein accumulating an invisible jackpot comprises increasing an amount of the invisible jackpot by a second percentage of each bet placed on the plurality of gaming machines.
21. The gaming system of claim 20 wherein the second percentage is greater than the first percentage.
22. The gaming system of claim 15 further comprising a diplay for displaying the visible jackpot to one or more players.
23. A gaming method performed in a system of a plurality of gaming machines connected in a network comprising:
accumulating a first visible jackpot, visible to players, common to the plurality of gaming machines;
accumulating a first invisible jackpot, not visible to players, common to the plurality of gaming machines;
accumulating a second jackpot common to the plurality of gaming machines;
paying the first visible jackpot to one of the plurality of gaming machines meeting first certain criteria; and
at least partially replenishing the first visible jackpot using at least a portion of the first invisible jackpot.
24. The gaming method of claim 23 wherein the second jackpot is a visible jackpot, visible to players, the method further comprising paying the second jackpot to one of the plurality of gaming machines meeting second certain criteria.
25. The gaming method of claim 24 wherein the first certain criteria and the second certain criteria are the same.
26. The gaming method of claim 24 wherein the first certain criteria and the second certain criteria are different.
27. The gaming method of claim 23 wherein the second jackpot is an invisible jackpot, not visible to players, the method further comprising at least partly replenishing the first visible jackpot using at least a portion of the second jackpot.
Description
    BACKGROUND
  • [0001]
    1. Field of Invention
  • [0002]
    This invention relates generally to gaming machines and particularly to jackpot awards for a network of gaming machines.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of Related Art
  • [0004]
    Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines, and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine.
  • [0005]
    It is known to provide a system of interconnected gaming machines where a percentage of the wagers are accumulated in a single jackpot. A central display or a display on each machine is provided so as to display a potentially very large jackpot in an attempt to motivate players to play the gaming machines within the network. A percentage of each bet placed at each of the interconnected machines is added to the jackpot.
  • [0006]
    Once a jackpot is awarded, the jackpot amount becomes small and must be built up again over time by players playing the interconnected gaming machines. During the time when the jackpot is small, the gaming machines are not as appealing to players. Accordingly, a new gaming network is desirable where the jackpot fills quickly so as to hold players' interest.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0007]
    A gaming method and system are described where a visible jackpot and an invisible jackpot are accumulated for a plurality of gaming machines connected in a network. The visible jackpot is paid when one of the gaming machines in the plurality meets certain criteria. The certain criteria may be, for example, when an amount in the visible jackpot reaches a certain level, when an amount in the invisible jackpot reaches a certain level, a number of plays of the gaming machines in the network, or a predetermined combination of symbols obtained by one of the gaming machines. After the visible jackpot is paid, the visible jackpot is partially replenished from the invisible jackpot. The amount in the visible jackpot may be displayed either on a display common to multiple gaming machines in the network or on each gaming machine in the network. The visible and invisible jackpots may be accumulated by increasing the amount in each of the visible jackpot and the invisible jackpot by a percentage of each amount wagered on the gaming machines in the network. In some embodiments, the invisible jackpot accumulates faster than the visible jackpot.
  • [0008]
    Since the visible jackpot is replenished by the invisible jackpot, the visible jackpot may be filled more quickly than a conventional jackpot that is increased only by players playing the gaming machines in the network. Multiple visible jackpots may be paid over a short period of time, increasing the appeal of the gaming machines in the network.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0009]
    [0009]FIG. 1 illustrates a network of gaming machines incorporating the present invention.
  • [0010]
    [0010]FIG. 2 illustrates an example of a gaming machine that may be used in the present invention.
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the pertinent components inside the gaming machine of FIG. 2.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0012]
    [0012]FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a network of interconnected gaming machines. The network illustrated in FIG. 1 may be located in a single location or spread over multiple locations, and may be connected to other networks. The network of FIG. 1 includes a number of gaming machines 10A, 10B, and 10C of any type. Gaming machines 10A-10C are connected to a conventional multiplexer/demultiplexer (MUX) 55 that serves to communicate with all the gaming machines in the network. In one embodiment, the communication link between the gaming machines, MUX 55, and jackpot display 53 is a serial RS422 communication link, and gaming machines 10A-10C are connected in a star pattern. A central server computer 51 runs a computer program that controls the network, including a jackpot display 53. A suitable computer program for controlling the network would be understood by those skilled in the art.
  • [0013]
    Jackpot display 53 may be viewable by all players in the same location playing gaming machines connected to the network. Multiple jackpot displays may be used, such as when parts of the network are in different physical locations. All jackpot displays connected to the network have the same information displayed.
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an example of a gaming machine 10 that may be used in the network illustrated in FIG. 1. Machine 10 includes a display 12 that may be a thin film transistor (TFT) display, a liquid crystal display (LCD), a cathode ray tube (CRT), or any other type of display. One type of game that may be displayed on display 12 is a simulated rotating reel type game where certain symbol combinations are winning combinations. A second display 14 provides game data or other information in addition to display 12. Display 14 may provide static information, such as an advertisement for the game, the rules of the game, pay tables, paylines, or other information, or may even display the game itself along with display 12. Alternatively, the area for display 14 may be a display glass for conveying information about the game. Display 14 may be used to display the jackpot amount shown on jackpot display 53 of FIG. 1.
  • [0015]
    Stereo speakers 15A and 15B are mounted below a top glass 16 to provide sound. Top lights 18 are illuminated in various colors or patterns to convey information, such as to convey the winning of a jackpot, to call for an attendant, or to identify an action to be taken by an attendant.
  • [0016]
    Border lights 20A, 20B, and 20C are dynamically controlled to display various colors and light patterns to provide feedback to the player or convey other information to the player, as well as to provide a pleasing appearance.
  • [0017]
    A coin slot 22 accepts coins or tokens in one or more denominations to generate credits within machine 10 for playing games. An input slot 24 for an optical reader and printer receives machine readable printed tickets and outputs printed tickets for use in cashless gaming. A bill acceptor 26 accepts various denominations of banknotes.
  • [0018]
    A display 28 (for example, an LCD) may be used for conveying any type of information, such as the monetary denominations accepted and any information that the casino wishes to convey to the players, such as advertisements for specials and shows. Buttons 30 interact with information on display 28 and may be used to accept offers conveyed by display 28 or may be used to obtain information via display 28.
  • [0019]
    A coin tray 32 receives coins or tokens from a hopper upon a win or upon the player cashing out.
  • [0020]
    A card reader slot 34 accepts any of various types of cards, such as smart cards, magnetic strip cards, or other types of cards conveying machine readable information. The card reader reads the inserted card for player and credit information for cashless gaming. The card reader may also include an optical reader and printer for reading and printing coded barcodes and other information on a paper ticket.
  • [0021]
    A keypad 36 accepts player input, such as a personal identification number (PIN) or any other player information. A display 38 above keypad 36 displays a menu for instructions and other information and provides visual feedback of the keys pressed.
  • [0022]
    Player control buttons 40 include any buttons needed for the play of the particular game or games offered by machine 10 including, for example, a bet button, a repeat bet button, a play two-ways button, a spin reels button, a deal button, hold cards buttons, a draw button, a maximum bet button, a cash-out button, a display paylines button, a display payout tables button, and any other suitable button. Buttons 40 may be replaced by a touch screen with virtual buttons.
  • [0023]
    A button 42 on the side of display portion 43 is offered for raising the motor-driven display portion 43, upon being pressed, to an optimum eye level. A button (not shown) on the other side of display portion 43 is pressed to lower display portion 43.
  • [0024]
    A lock 44 accepts a key to unlock the front door of machine 10. A lock 46 accepts a key to unlock coin tray 32 from its present position to gain access to only the lower part of machine 10 containing money.
  • [0025]
    Electrical switches 48, activated using a key, are provided for resetting the machine, such as after a jackpot payout by the attendant or after maintenance. Switches 48 can also be used for placing the machine in a reconfiguration mode, where a menu is displayed to allow the operator to change the parameters of the machine.
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 3 illustrates basic circuit blocks in a suitable gaming device. A control unit (CPU 60) runs a gaming program stored in a program ROM 63. A coin/credit detector 61 enables the CPU 60 to initiate a next game. A pay table ROM 64 detects the outcome of the game and identifies awards to be paid to the player. A payout device 62 pays out an award to the player in the form of coins upon termination of the game or upon the player cashing out. A payout may also be in the form of a coded paper ticket, credits on a smart card or magnetic strip card, or in any other form. A display controller 65 receives commands from the CPU 60 and generates signals for the various displays 66. If a display 66 is a touch screen, player commands may be input through the display screen into the CPU 60.
  • [0027]
    Returning to FIG. 1, a jackpot game played on the network can operate in a variety of ways. The conventional way is for the jackpot amount to be displayed to all players along with the combination of symbols that will win the jackpot. Each time a player plays one of the networked gaming machines, the jackpot amount is increased by a percentage of the player's bet. When a player achieves the displayed combination of symbols, the displayed jackpot amount is paid to that player. Such a conventional method has a number of drawbacks. For example, a typical jackpot does not sufficiently motivate players to continue playing the gaming machines in the network, since obtaining the jackpot symbol is so unlikely that the jackpot is rarely awarded. Additionally, when a jackpot is awarded, the jackpot amount is reduced to a smaller amount or to nothing, which is then increased by players playing the gaming machines in the network. During the time the jackpot is small, the gaming machines are not as appealing to players.
  • [0028]
    In some embodiments of the invention, all or a portion of every credit played by players playing the gaming machines in the network is split between multiple jackpots, at least one visible to the players and at least one invisible to the players. For example, a network of gaming machines may have two visible jackpots and two invisible jackpots, or one visible jackpot and four invisible jackpots. The fraction of each credit given to the visible and invisible jackpots may, but need not, be the same. Similarly, if a network has multiple visible or invisible jackpots, the fraction of each credit given to each of the same type of jackpot may, but need not, be the same. The case of a single visible jackpot and a single invisible jackpot is considered in detail. Usually, a larger fraction, for example double the fraction given to the visible jackpot, is given to the invisible jackpot, such that the invisible jackpot fills faster. For example, if 10% total of each credit is used to fill the jackpots, 3% may be directed to the visible jackpot and 7% may be directed to the invisible jackpot. The visible jackpot is displayed on display 53 of FIG. 1 and may also be displayed on some portion of screens 12 and 14 of the gaming machine shown in FIG. 2.
  • [0029]
    The visible jackpot is paid when a predetermined condition for paying the jackpot has been met, such as when a randomly selected number of plays on the networked gaming machines are made, when a predetermined symbol combination is achieved in display 12 (FIG. 2), or when a certain value is achieved in the visible and/or invisible jackpots. For example, when the visible jackpot reaches a certain value, the visible jackpot may be paid to the player whose bet on a networked machine causes the visible jackpot to exceed that value. If the network has multiple visible jackpots, the condition for awarding each of the visible jackpots may be the same or different.
  • [0030]
    Rather than returning to a small or zero starting value, the visible jackpot is funded from the invisible jackpot. The amount transferred from the invisible to the visible jackpot may depend on how many credits have accumulated in the invisible jackpot. Each time the visible jackpot is funded from the invisible jackpot, the condition for paying the visible jackpot may be changed. For example, if the visible jackpot is paid when a certain value is reached in the visible jackpot, the trigger value may be recalculated by the central server 51 each time the visible jackpot is replenished from the invisible jackpot so that the value cannot be predicted by a player. If the network has multiple visible and invisible jackpots, each visible jackpot may be assigned an invisible jackpot. Or, multiple invisible jackpots may be available to replenish a single visible jackpot. The particular invisible jackpot used to replenish the visible jackpot may be chosen randomly, or may follow a predetermined order.
  • [0031]
    Since the visible jackpot is funded by an invisible jackpot, which usually fills faster than the visible jackpot, it does not take a lot of play for the visible jackpot to be replenished, such that multiple visible jackpots may be awarded in a small amount of time. Awarding multiple jackpots in a short amount of time increases the appeal of the gaming machines in the network.
  • [0032]
    When the invisible jackpot reaches a predetermined value, a series of visible jackpot awards may be paid, meaning that after a visible jackpot has been paid, the next visible jackpot is paid immediately after the next game has ended. The visible jackpots in the series may be paid to a single player or different players. The number of visible jackpots paid in the series may be randomly selected or may depend on how many credits are in the invisible jackpot.
  • EXAMPLES
  • [0033]
    The visible jackpot is funded with 3% of each credit bet on the networked gaming machines, and the invisible jackpot is funded with 7% of each credit bet. The starting value of the visible jackpot is set to 200 credits. The initial visible jackpot is paid to the player whose bet causes the visible jackpot to exceed 1000 credits. The amount transferred from the invisible jackpot to the visible jackpot is selected, then a new trigger value in the visible jackpot is calculated.
  • [0034]
    The amount transferred from the invisible jackpot to the visible jackpot by the central server 51 may be calculated as follows. If there are more than 1000 credits in the invisible jackpot, a randomly selected amount between 200 and 900 credits is transferred to the visible jackpot. If there are between 200 and 400 credits in the invisible jackpot, a randomly selected amount between 200 and the value of the invisible jackpot is transferred to the visible jackpot. If there are between 400 and 1000 credits in the invisible jackpot, a randomly selected value between half the value of the invisible jackpot and the full value of the invisible jackpot is transferred to the visible jackpot.
  • [0035]
    The new visible jackpot trigger value may be calculated as follows. If the new visible jackpot exceeds 950 credits, the new trigger value is 1000 credits. If the new visible jackpot is less than 950 credits, one of two values is randomly selected, each having a 50% probability of being selected. The first value is a randomly selected number between the visible jackpot amount and ((950−visible jackpot amount)/3)+visible jackpot amount. The second value is a randomly selected number between the visible jackpot amount and 950.
  • [0036]
    In one embodiment, regardless of the trigger value, the visible jackpot is awarded when the trigger value is reached only if the invisible jackpot contains at least 200 credits. Also regardless of the trigger value, the visible jackpot may be awarded when the visible jackpot reaches a maximum value (such as 1000 credits), or when the invisible jackpot reaches a maximum value (such as 6000 credits).
  • [0037]
    A series of jackpot wins is triggered when the invisible jackpot exceeds 3000 credits. The number of visible jackpots to be paid in the series is randomly selected based on the following probabilities:
    10% Pay no additional jackpots
    54% Pay 1 additional jackpot
    18% Pay 2 additional jackpots
    12% Pay 3 additional jackpots
     6% Pay 4 additional jackpots
  • [0038]
    Having described the invention in detail, those skilled in the art will appreciate that, given the present disclosure, modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit of the inventive concept described herein. Therefore, it is not intended that the scope of the invention be limited to the specific embodiments illustrated and described.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/26
International ClassificationG07F17/32
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3258
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32K12
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 8, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: ATRONIC INTERNATIONAL GMBH, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GAUSELMANN, MICHAEL;REEL/FRAME:012891/0756
Effective date: 20020508