Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20040160005 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/368,512
Publication dateAug 19, 2004
Filing dateFeb 18, 2003
Priority dateFeb 18, 2003
Publication number10368512, 368512, US 2004/0160005 A1, US 2004/160005 A1, US 20040160005 A1, US 20040160005A1, US 2004160005 A1, US 2004160005A1, US-A1-20040160005, US-A1-2004160005, US2004/0160005A1, US2004/160005A1, US20040160005 A1, US20040160005A1, US2004160005 A1, US2004160005A1
InventorsDavid Krise, Michael Kuhn, Randy Sines
Original AssigneeKrise David A., Kuhn Michael J., Sines Randy D.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming table playing surface
US 20040160005 A1
Abstract
Representative embodiments provide for a playing surface for a wagering game of chance, including a flexible base material defined by a peripheral shape defining a playing field of the wagering game of chance and configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone when supported by a planar surface, and a flexible surface material bonded to the flexible base material including indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance. The invention further provides a method of replacing a playing surface of a gaming table for a wagering game of chance, including supporting a new playing surface using a planar surface of the gaming table, and removably securing an edging to the gaming table, wherein the new playing surface is configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone, and without stretching or adhesives, when supported by the planar surface.
Images(6)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(30)
We claim:
1. A playing surface for a wagering game of chance, comprising:
a flexible base material defined by a peripheral shape defining a playing field of the wagering game of chance and configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone when supported by a planar surface; and
a flexible surface material bonded to the flexible base material including indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance.
2. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the playing surface further includes an aperture therethrough, and wherein the aperture is configured to accommodate usage of one of a chip tray, a chip sensor, or an electronic display.
3. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the playing surface further includes a plurality of apertures therethrough, and wherein selected ones of the apertures are configured to accommodate usage of one of a chip tray, a chip sensor, or an electronic display.
4. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the flexible base material is formed of at least one of neoprene, nitrile, silicon, ethylene vinyl acetate blended rubber, styrene butadiene rubber, or natural rubber.
5. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the flexible surface material is formed of at least one of polyester, nylon, polyvinyl, polypropylene, polyvinylchloride, polyethylene terephthalate, or polychloride.
6. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the flexible base material is defined by a thickness of about 0.03125 inches to about 0.5 inches.
7. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the flexible base material is defined by a thickness of about 0.375 inches to about 0.625 inches.
8. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance are formed by at least one of dye sublimation or vinyl transfer.
9. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the flexible surface material is formed of polyester, and wherein the indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance are formed by dye sublimation.
10. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the playing surface is further configured to be supported by a gaming table including the planar surface.
11. The playing surface of claim 1, and wherein the wagering game of chance is defined by blackjack, baccarat, mini baccarat, poker, craps, roulette, pai gow, or a novelty wagering game of chance.
12. A gaming table, comprising:
a stand;
a table top supported by the stand;
a playing surface supported by the table top, the playing surface including a flexible base layer and a top surface layer bonded to the flexible base layer, the playing surface defining a shape of a playing field of a wagering game of chance and corresponding to a shape of the table top, and wherein the top surface layer includes indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance.
13. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the playing surface includes an aperture therethrough, and wherein the aperture is configured to accommodate usage of one of a chip tray, a chip sensor, or an electronic display supported by the gaming table.
14. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the playing surface includes a plurality of apertures therethrough, and wherein selected ones of the apertures are configured to accommodate usage of one of a chip tray, a chip sensor, or an electronic display supported by the gaming table.
15. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the flexible base layer is formed of at least one of neoprene, nitrile, silicon, ethylene vinyl acetate blended rubber, styrene butadiene rubber, or natural rubber.
16. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the flexible base layer is defined by a thickness of about 0.03125 inches to about 0.5 inches.
17. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the flexible base material is defined by a thickness of about 0.375 inches to about 0.625 inches.
18. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the top surface layer is formed of at least one of polyester, nylon, polyvinyl, polypropylene, polyvinylchloride, PET, or polychloride.
19. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance are formed by at least one of dye sublimation or vinyl transfer.
20. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the top surface layer is formed of polyester, and wherein the indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance are formed by dye sublimation.
21. The gaming table of claim 12, and further comprising an edging configured to overlie at least a portion of a periphery of the playing surface, and wherein the edging is optionally defined by a padded armrest.
22. The gaming table of claim 12, and wherein the wagering game of chance is defined by blackjack, baccarat, mini baccarat, poker, craps, roulette, pai gow, or a novelty wagering game of chance.
23. A method of replacing a playing surface of a gaming table for a wagering game of chance, comprising:
supporting a new playing surface using a planar surface of the gaming table; and
removably securing an edging to the gaming table, wherein the edging is optionally defined by a padded armrest, and wherein the new playing surface is configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone when supported by the planar surface, and wherein no stretching of the new playing surface is performed in the replacing.
24. The method of claim 23, and further comprising aligning an aperture through the new playing surface with one of a chip tray, a chip sensor, or an electronic display supported by the gaming table.
25. The method of claim 23, and further comprising aligning selected ones of a plurality of apertures through the new playing surface with one of a chip tray, a chip sensor, or an electronic display supported by the gaming table.
26. The method of claim 23, and wherein no adhesives are used in the replacing.
27. A playing surface for a wagering game of chance, comprising:
a rigid, compliant base material defined by a peripheral shape defining a playing field of the wagering game of chance and configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone when supported by a planar surface; and
a flexible surface material bonded to the rigid, compliant base material, the surface material including indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance.
28. The playing surface of claim 27, and wherein the indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance are formed by dye sublimation.
29. The playing surface of claim 27, and wherein the flexible surface material is formed of polyester.
30. The playing surface of claim 27, and wherein the playing surface includes a through aperture, and wherein the aperture is configured to accommodate usage of one of a chip tray, an chip sensor, or an electronic display.
Description
BACKGROUND

[0001] Various wagering games of chance that use a defined playing surface (or field) are known. Non-limiting examples of such wagering games include blackjack (i.e., “twenty-one”), poker, craps, baccarat, and roulette. The playing surface for such a game is typically supported by a gaming table or similar standard so that a player or players may conveniently stand or be seated adjacent to the playing surface. Furthermore, the playing surface generally has a shape characteristic to the particular wagering game of chance, and commonly bears indicia or other graphics related to the rules of the game, playing and/or wagering regions used during the course of the game, commercial logos related to the location of play (i.e., the logo of a casino or club), etc.

[0002] Heretofore, such playing surfaces have been in the form of a single-piece fabric cover, overlying a separate padding material, which in turn is supported by a flat, rigid table surface. Woolen felt is a common fabric of choice for such a playing surface, and it is well known that many players are reluctant to play on any other kind of surface, particularly if the wagering game calls for the use of playing cards. Therefore, a cultural bias in favor of felt or other fabric playing surfaces is well established within the wager-gaming community and related industries.

[0003] A felt playing surface is generally installed for use on a gaming table by stretching it tightly over the support padding material having substantially the same shape, and secured in place to the gaming table using nails, tacks, staples, or some combination of these or other means. Some form of peripheral edging—commonly in the form of a padded armrest—is often added to further secure the playing surface to the gaming table and to provide a more desirable playing environment.

[0004] If the particular wagering game of chance or a corresponding gaming table should require that an aperture (or apertures) exist through the playing surface, then it is generally necessary to secure the periphery of such an aperture to the underlying support using staples, tape, adhesive, or other means, so as to achieve a uniformly flat playing field and to avoid lifting of the playing surface in the area proximate the aperture.

[0005] Use of the felt playing surfaces described above typically presents a number of problems. The indicia and other graphics which are borne by the felt playing surface are usually applied by silk screening, as it is well known to those of skill in the related arts that felt fabric generally resists attempts at satisfactory marking by other means. As such, the general appearance of such indicia or graphics can be undesirably limited by the bounds of silk screening technology.

[0006] Furthermore, felt and other fabric playing surfaces typically require regular replacement due to the wear of normal use, such as staining from spilled liquids, requiring that a replacement felt playing surface be stretched over the underlying support (i.e., a padding material and gaming table top) as described above. Such stretching can undesirably distort the appearance of indicia or graphics borne by the replacement playing surface. For a gaming table that is in use a large percent of the time, the felt playing surface may have to be replaced as often as every other month, just due to usual wear. During the time that the felt playing surface on a gaming table is being replaced, the gaming table is obviously not available for use, thereby impacting income that could potentially be earned by the gaming table.

[0007] Also, any aperture or apertures formed within the felt playing surface and underlying padding material must be aligned with the corresponding feature or features supported by the gaming table, with this alignment process being generally complicated by the stretching of the felt (or fabric) playing surface over the supporting table top. These and other installation and maintenance burdens are known to be associated with the use of felt playing surfaces.

[0008] Therefore, it is desirable to provide playing surfaces for wagering games of chance that avoid the problems presented above.

SUMMARY

[0009] One embodiment provides for a playing surface for a wagering game of chance. The playing surface includes a flexible base material, which is shaped to define a playing field of the wagering game of chance. The base material is configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone when supported by a planar surface. The playing surface further includes a flexible surface material bonded to the flexible base material, which bears indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance.

[0010] Another embodiment provides for a gaming table. The gaming table includes a stand, a table top supported by the stand, and a playing surface supported by the table top. The playing surface includes a flexible base layer and a top surface layer bonded to the flexible base layer. The playing surface defines the shape of a playing field of a wagering game of chance, and corresponds to a shape of the table top. The top surface layer further includes indicia corresponding to the wagering game of chance.

[0011] Yet another embodiment provides for a method of replacing a playing surface of a gaming table for a wagering game of chance. The method includes supporting a new playing surface using a planar surface of the gaming table, and removably securing an edging to the gaming table. The edging is optionally defined by a padded armrest, and the new playing surface is configured to lie as a planar entity under the influence of gravity alone when supported by the planar surface. No stretching of the new playing surface is performed in the replacing.

[0012] These and other aspects and embodiments will now be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013]FIG. 1 is an exploded oblique view depicting a gaming table in accordance with one example of the prior art.

[0014]FIG. 2 is an exploded oblique view depicting a gaming table in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

[0015]FIG. 3 is an exploded oblique view depicting a gaming table in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

[0016]FIG. 4 is a plan view depicting details of the playing surface of FIG. 3.

[0017]FIG. 5 is a flowchart depicting a method of replacing a playing surface of a gaming table in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018]FIG. 1 is an exploded oblique view depicting a gaming table 10 in accordance with one example of the prior art. The gaming table 10 includes a table top 12. The table top 12 is a substantially planar, rigid entity and includes a peripheral edge of a shape which defines a playing field of a wagering game of chance. As shown in FIG. 1, the gaming table 10 is suitable for playing blackjack (i.e., “twenty-one”). Other wagering games of chance are known to use gaming tables that are varyingly similar to the gaming table 10. The gaming table 10 includes a plurality of legs 14, which support the table top 12 at a height above the ambient floor level suitable for playing the wagering game of chance.

[0019] The gaming table 10 also includes a padding material 33. The padding material 33 is typically formed from any suitable pliable, foam-like material such as, for example, polyurethane foam. The padding material 33 includes a peripheral edge defining a shape generally corresponding to the shape of the table top 12 of the gaming table 10. The padding material 33 is typically secured in place on the table top 12 by way of adhesives or other suitable means. As shown in FIG. 1, the padding material 33 includes a through padding aperture 39 that is described in further detail hereafter.

[0020] The gaming table 10 further includes a cover, or playing surface, 16. The cover 16 is formed of a single-piece, felt-fabric entity, which includes a peripheral edge defining a shape which generally corresponds to the shape of the table top 12 of the gaming table 10. As shown, the cover 16 is assumed to be formed from felt fabric. The cover 16 overlies the padding material 33, and is secured to the table top 12 along an edge 18 of the table top using a plurality of fasteners 20. Such fasteners 20 can include, for example, staples, tacks, nails, or similar means. In another embodiment (not shown), the cover 16 can be secured along the edge 18 of the table top 12 using adhesives such as cement or adhesive tape. In any case, the cover 16 is ultimately supported by the table top 12 in a generally stretched, tautly secured manner, such that the cover 16 forms a smooth, flat, felt-fabric playing surface.

[0021] The cover 16 includes indicia or graphics 22. The indicia 22 can include, for example, a business logo representing the location (i.e., a casino or gaming club) of the gaming table 10, rules of play related to the wagering game of chance (e.g., blackjack), designated locations for the placement of wagers used during the course of the game, etc. Such graphics or indicia 22 are usually formed on the felt cover 16 using silk screening. The cover 16 further includes a through-cover aperture 28, which is aligned with the corresponding padding aperture 39 and a table aperture 26 through the table top 12. The cover 16 is secured to the table top 12 proximate the periphery of the cover aperture 28 using staples, adhesives, tape, or other means (not shown) so as to prevent the cover 16 from lifting away from the table top 12 in the general vicinity of the table aperture 26. Further elaboration of the table aperture 26, the cover aperture 28, and the padding aperture 39 is provided hereafter.

[0022] The gaming table 10 further includes an edging 24. The edging 24 is typically in the form of a padded armrest or similar arrangement, and is supported about some, or all, of the periphery 18 of the table top 12 of the gaming table 10. The edging 24 can be secured to the gaming table 10 by way of fasteners, adhesive, or other suitable means (not shown), and usually overlies and visually obscures at least a portion of the periphery of the cover 16 and the table edge 18. The edging 24 serves to provide a more esthetically pleasing and comfortable gaming environment. The gaming table 10 further includes a dealer chip tray 30 that is received within the aligned through apertures 26, 28 and 39. The dealer chip tray 30 can be secured to the gaming table 10 at a suitable elevation within the apertures 26, 28 and 39 by way of fasteners or other means (not shown), or the chip tray 30 can be configured to simply rest on (be supported by) the cover 16 without the use of fasteners or other securing means.

[0023] It is noted that fasteners 20 and/or other means (i.e., adhesives or tape, not shown) are required to secure the cover 16 to the top 12 of the gaming table 10. This can result in damage to the cover 16 due, for example, to tearing at the penetration formed by a fastener 20. Further, the cover 16 must typically be stretched during the securing (installation) process, while ensuring desirable alignment of the cover aperture 28 with the padding aperture 39 and the table aperture 26, as well as correspondence between the respective peripheral shapes of the cover 16, the padding material 33, and the table top 12. Further still, it is desirable to maintain the intended appearance of the indicia 22 during the installation process of the cover 16, without undue distortion of the indicia 22 due to the required stretching and/or use of adhesives or other securing means.

[0024] These and other constraints generally result in an installation process for the cover 16 and/or padding material 33 that is undesirably time consuming and meticulous, and is generally performed by skilled technicians. Therefore, it is desirable to provide a gaming table playing surface that avoids these and other problems associated with installation and use.

[0025]FIG. 2 is an exploded oblique view depicting a gaming table 100 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The gaming table 100 includes a table top 112. The table top 112 is a substantially rigid, planar entity and includes a peripheral edge defining a shape of a playing field of a wagering game of chance. As shown, the peripheral edge of the table top 112 defines a playing field which can be, for example, the wagering game of blackjack, and generally corresponds to a segment of a disk. It is noted that other peripheral shapes (not shown) in accordance with other wagering games of chance can be used. Non-limiting examples of such wagering games of chance (not shown) include poker, baccarat, mini baccarat, craps, roulette, pai gow poker, “Texas Hold Em'”, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride® (a registered trademark of Shuffle Master, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nev.), and other novelty wagering games of chance. As used herein, the term ‘novelty wagering games of chance’ refers to wagering games of chance that typically incorporate elements from traditional wagering games (for example, poker), as well as newer elements and/or modified rules of play. One of skill in the wager gaming arts is familiar with this terminology.

[0026] The gaming table 100 further includes a plurality of legs 114 which support the table top 112 at a desirable elevation above an ambient floor level (not shown). It is appreciated that other forms of support (not shown) can be used instead of legs 114; non-limiting examples include one-piece or multi-piece stands, pedestals, cabinets, wall-mounted support arms, etc.

[0027] The gaming table 100 also includes a playing surface 116. The playing surface 116 includes (i.e., is defined by) a peripheral edge defining a shape of playing surface for the wagering game of chance (e.g., blackjack) and is generally correspondent to the peripheral shape of the table top 112. The playing surface 116 includes a layer of flexible base material 132. In general, the flexible base material is fabricated from a sheet of the material defined by a width, a length, and a thickness “T”. The material has three-dimensional shape memory. That is, when the material is elastically compressed along its thickness by a compressing force, the material will return to its original thickness when the compressing force is removed. Likewise, when the material is elastically stretched along its length and width by elongating forces, the material will return to its original length and width when the elongating forces are removed. In this way, the material tends to assume an essentially flat shape, not having any wrinkles, when placed on a flat surface (such as table top 112) and subjected only to the forces of gravity.

[0028] For example, the base material 132 can be provided in a roll-form and, when placed on the table top 112 and provided with an urging force to initiate unrolling of the rolled base material 132, will assume the flat, planar shape of the table top without the addition of stretching or straightening forces, subject only to the application of alignment forces (i.e., translational forces and rotational forces, and excluding elongating (or “stretching”) forces) to align the edges of the base material 132 with the edges of the table top 112. Non-limiting examples of material from which the flexible base material 132 can be formed include neoprene, nitrile, silicon, ethylene vinyl acetate blended rubber (EVA), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), natural rubber, and any suitable combination of these or other similar materials. Neoprene and nitrile are commercially available from Groendyk Manufacturing Company, Inc., Buchanan, Va. EVA and SBR are commercially available from Good Raise Chemical Industry Company, LTD., Tai Chung, Taiwan. In another embodiment (not shown), the base material 132 is formed of a rigid (or substantially rigid), compliant material. Such a rigid, compliant material results in a playing surface 116 (not shown) that is a substantially resistant to folding or rolling of the overall playing surface 116 (not shown), but has a relatively slight, desired amount of compliance (i.e., pliability) so as to be satisfactorily usable with a wagering game of chance. In any case, the flexible base material 132 is defined by a thickness T.

[0029] In one embodiment, the thickness T is in the range of about 0.375 inches to about 0.625 inches. In another embodiment, the thickness T is in the range of about 0.03125 to about 0.5 inches. Other thicknesses T of the flexible base material 132 can be used. In any case, it is desirable to select a constituent or combination of constituents of an overall thickness T for the layer of flexible base material 132, such that the playing surface 116 assumes a substantially planar orientation when supported by an underlying planar entity (such as, for example, the table top 112), under the influence of gravity alone and without the use of any fasteners, adhesives, or other additional securing means, as described above.

[0030] The playing surface 116 further includes a flexible top surface material 134. The top surface material 134 is uniformly bonded to a surface of the flexible base material 132. In this way, the base material 132 and the top surface material 134 define the playing surface 116 as a single entity. Preferably, the top surface material is fabricated from a material which is water resistant, and which is resistant to generating and holding a static electric charge. The top surface material is also preferably generally smooth and resistant to frictional wear, and is capable of being printed with complex graphics. “Complex graphics” include graphic images wherein colors are represented in different tones and with shading, and generally provide for a palette of several hundred colors or more printed using four basic ink colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Non-limiting examples of material from which the top surface material 134 can be selectively formed include a fabric or a sheet material made from polyester, nylon, polyvinyl, polypropylene, polyvinylchloride, polyethylene terephthalate, polychloride, or any suitable combination of these or other materials. At least some of these possible constituents for the top surface material 134 are commercially available from the two sources listed above.

[0031] The playing surface 116 further includes indicia or graphics 122. The indicia 122 can include, for example, commercial logos, rules related to playing the wagering game of chance, designation of areas used in wagering or playing the game of chance, etc. Other uses or purposes for the indicia 122 are possible. For example, the indicia 122 can include complex graphics (as defined above) to enhance visual appearance and attractiveness of the wagering game of chance to potential players. The indicia 122 can be formed using dye sublimation, direct vinyl transfer, or any other indicia formation means suitable to the selected top surface material 134.

[0032] The playing surface 116 of the gaming table 100 further includes a through surface aperture 128. The surface aperture 128 is aligned with a corresponding table aperture 126 through the table top 112. The table aperture 126 and the surface aperture 128 are of substantially equivalent area geometries. It is noted that the playing surface 116 does not require adhesives or other securing means to be used in the proximity of the surface aperture 128 and/or table aperture 126, so as to achieve desired performance of the playing surface 116. This is due to the inherent behavior of the playing surface 116 to assume and retain a substantially planar orientation during simple contacting support by the table top 112. That is, the three-dimensional shape memory characteristics of the playing surface 116 (described above with respect to the base material 132 of the playing surface) are sufficient to place a lower surface (i.e., a surface opposite the top surface material 134 of the playing surface 116) in full contact with the table top 112, subject only to the application of alignment forces (i.e., translational forces and/or rotational forces, and excluding elongating (or “stretching”) forces).

[0033] The gaming table 100 further includes a dealer chip tray 130, which is received within the aligned apertures 126 and 128. The dealer chip tray 130 is configured to organize and support a plurality of gaming chips (not shown) typically used during play of the wagering game of chance (e.g., blackjack) of the gaming table 100. The dealer chip tray 130 can be secured to the gaming table 100 using suitable fasteners, adhesives, overlapping support edges, or other means (not shown). Alternately, the weight of the dealer chip tray 130 can be sufficient to hold the chip tray 130 against the playing surface 116 such that fasteners are not required.

[0034] The gaming table 100 can further include an edging 124. The edging 124, as depicted, is in the form of a padded armrest; however, other configurations of edging (not shown) can be used. The edging 124 can be secured to the gaming table 100 generally about a portion of the periphery of the table top 112 and the playing surface 116. Fasteners or other suitable means (not shown) can be used to secure the edging 124 to the gaming table 100. Alternately, the weight of the edging 124 can be sufficient to hold the edging against the playing surface 116 such that fasteners are not required. The edging 124 typically defines a cross sectional shape that partially overlaps the periphery of the playing surface 116, and substantially covers and obscures an edge 118 of the table top 112. The edging 124 generally provides a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment for players using the gaming table 100.

[0035] At least the following desirable characteristics are inherent to the playing surface 116 (and its equivalents):

[0036] 1) The playing surface 116 does not require fasteners, adhesives, or other means to be used during installation or use in conjunction with the gaming table 100. This is particularly desirable in regard to securing areas of the playing surface 116 that are proximate to the surface aperture 128 with the table top 112. Furthermore, the playing surface 116 has a reduced likelihood of installation-related damage.

[0037] 2) The playing surface 116 does not require stretching during installation on the gaming table 100. Thus, indicia 122 remain undistorted and the surface aperture 128 is readily alignable with the table aperture 126.

[0038] 3) The top surface material 134 can be formed of a substantially liquid resistant (i.e., repellant) material, such that the top surface material 134 is readily cleanable and resistant to staining.

[0039] 4) The top surface material 134 can be selected such that the indicia 122 can be formed, for example, by dye sublimation or direct vinyl transfer. This results in a broader range of graphic imaging options (including complex graphics) when forming indicia 122, as well as indicia or graphics 122 of generally improved durability, relative to silk screening alone.

[0040] 5) The top surface material 134 can be selected to exhibit a reduced generation and/or transfer of static electric charge onto playing cards or other elements (not shown) used during the wagering game of chance, relative to that exhibited by felt fabric. This results in reducing mutual attraction and/or repulsion between cards or other elements used during the wagering game. Further, the reduction in generation and/or transfer of static electric charge will have less affect on electronic components used in current state-of-the-art wagering games, such as electronic chip sensors, electronic displays, and the like.

[0041] 6) The top surface material 134 can be selected to exhibit improved durabilty (reduced wear) relative to felt or other fabrics. This results in a playing surface 116 that has a generally desirable longevity.

[0042] 7) The top surface material 134 is bonded to the flexible base material 132 in a uniform, continuous manner. This results in a playing surface 116 that is substantially free from lifting, bumps, or other undesired surface irregularities.

[0043] 8) Openings can be pre-formed in the playing surface and easily aligned with corresponding openings in the table top, whereas with prior art coverings the openings are typically formed in the covering after it has been placed over the support pad.

[0044] 9) The playing surface 116 exhibits improved fire resistance (i.e., resistance to damage by heated or burning objects) relative to felt or other fabric coverings of the prior art. This is particularly desirable, for example, during use of the playing surface 116 by cigarette or cigar smokers.

[0045] Thus, the playing surface 116 (and its equivalents) of the present invention avoids the problems discussed above in regard to the use of single-piece, fabric playing surfaces.

[0046]FIG. 3 is an exploded oblique view depicting a gaming table 200 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The gaming table 200 includes a table top 212. The table top 212 includes a chip tray aperture 226, a screen tray aperture 240, and a cabling aperture 242. These apertures 226, 240 and 242 are described in detail hereafter. The gaming table 200 further includes a stand assembly 214, which is configured to support the table top 212 at a desired elevation above an ambient floor level. The specific form of the stand assembly 214 is not crucial to purposes herein, and a number of other stand configurations (not shown) can be used.

[0047] The gaming table 200 also includes a screen tray 244. The screen tray 244 is received in the screen tray aperture 240, and is generally supported by overlapping cooperation between the screen periphery of the tray 244 and the screen tray aperture 240 of the table top 212. Other means of supporting the screen tray 244 can be used, the specifics of which are not crucial to purposes herein. The gaming table 200 further includes a plurality of electronic screen displays 246, which are supported by the screen tray 244. The plurality of electronic displays 246 are coupled in signal communication with a computer or processor 252, and are configured to display graphics and other indicia such as, for example, the likenesses of playing cards or other images (not shown) used during wagering game play at the gaming table 200.

[0048] The gaming table 200 includes a plurality of chip sensors 247. The chip sensors 247 are generally associated with, and disposed adjacent to, certain of the plurality of electronic displays 246. The chip sensors 247 are coupled in signal communication with the computer 252, and are configured to detect the presence of a playing chip or chips (not shown) within associated regions of a playing surface 216 (described in detail hereafter).

[0049] The gaming table 200 further includes a plurality of protective shields 248 in number correspondence to the plurality of electronic displays 246. Each protective shield 248 is supported about a periphery of, and is configured to viewably protect, an electronic display 246. The protective shields 248 can be formed of glass, plastic, or any suitable generally transparent material. The gaming table 200 further includes a mask layer 250. The mask layer 250 includes a plurality of through-shield apertures 254, which are configured to maintain each of the protective shields 248 in proper overlying alignment with the corresponding electronic display 246. The mask layer 250 is further configured to provide a flat support surface coplanar to the table top 212 within the area of the screen tray aperture 240. The mask layer 250 further includes a plurality of through sensing apertures 249, which are respectively aligned with certain of the plurality of chip sensors 247 and are configured to facilitate operation thereof.

[0050] The gaming table 200 further includes a playing surface 216. The playing surface 216 is defined by a peripheral shape which further defines a playing field of the wagering game of chance of the gaming table 200, and generally corresponds to a peripheral shape of the table top 212. The playing surface 216 includes a flexible base material 232, defined by a thickness T2. The base material 232 can be formed from any suitable material described above in regard to the base material 132 of FIG. 2. Furthermore, the thickness T2 of the base material 232 can be within any of the ranges described above in regard to thickness “T” of the base material 132 of FIG. 2.

[0051] The playing surface 216 further includes a flexible top surface material 234 that is bonded to the base material 232. The top surface material 234 can be formed of any of the materials described above in regard to the top surface material 134 of FIG. 2. The playing surface 216 also includes indicia or graphics 222. The indicia 222 can be formed by any of the means described above in regard to indicia 122 of FIG. 2. Further detail of the indicia 222 are provided hereafter in regard to FIG. 4.

[0052] The playing surface 216 can also include a plurality of through surface screen apertures 236 that are respectively aligned with certain of the plurality of electronic displays 246 and are configured to facilitate viewing thereof by a wagering game player. The playing surface 216 can further include a through-surface chip tray aperture 228. The chip tray aperture 228 is configured to permit the reception and support of a dealer chip tray 230 by the gaming table 200.

[0053] The playing surface 216 can further include a plurality of through-surface chip sensing apertures 238. The surface chip apertures 238 are respectively aligned with certain of the chip sensors 247 and are configured to facilitate operation thereof. During play of the wagering game, a playing chip or chips (not shown) can be placed within regions designated by the indicia 222 (see FIG. 4) of the playing surface 216 and detected by the corresponding chip sensors 247. These corresponding chip sensors 247 can then relay respective chip detection signals to the computer 252, where they can be used in carrying out play of the game.

[0054] The playing surface 216 can further include a through-wiring aperture 239. The wiring aperture 239 is configured to permit the routing of signal wiring 256 between the computer 252 and the plurality of electronic displays 246 and the plurality of chip sensors 247. The computer 252 can be generally supported by the playing surface 216 in the area proximate the wiring aperture 239.

[0055] The gaming table 200 can further include a padded edging 224. The padded edging 224 generally overlies, and is supported by, the area immediately adjacent to the periphery of the playing surface 216. Furthermore, the padded edging 224 typically covers and obscures an edge 218 of the table top 212. The padded edging 224 can be secured to the gaming table 200 via fasteners or other means (not shown; not specifically relevant herein) that are not specifically interactive with the playing surface 216. However, the padded edging 224 can be supported on the table top 212 by gravity alone. The padded edging 224 generally provides an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable gaming environment in regard to the use of gaming table 200.

[0056] The playing surface 216 is readily installed and used in conjunction with the gaming table 200 without the need for fasteners, adhesives, tapes, or other securing means in order to assume and maintain a desirably planar (i.e., flat and smooth) orientation through simple resting support on the table top 212 and the mask layer 250. Furthermore, the top surface material 234 of the playing surface 216 can be selected to provide a desirable degree of liquid stain resistance and overall durability under use. Generally, the playing surface 216 (and its equivalents) is configurable to exhibit all of the desirable characteristics listed above in regard to the playing surface 116 of FIG. 2.

[0057]FIG. 4 is a plan view depicting a detail of the playing surface 216 of FIG. 3. As shown, the playing surface 216 includes the base material 232 of FIG. 3 (not visible in FIG. 4), the top surface material 234, the chip tray aperture 228, the surface screen apertures 236, the surface chip sensing apertures 238, and the wiring aperture 239 as described above with respect to FIG. 3. Furthermore, the indicia (graphics) 222 of the playing surface 216 are further detailed hereafter for clarity of understanding.

[0058] As shown, the indicia 222 can includes a name 260 of the particular waging game of chance—in this case, “BlackjacK”. The indicia 222 further include borders and associated text that define a plurality of chip placement regions 262 which can be used during play of the wagering game (in this case, blackjack). The chip placement regions 262 are graphically designated by the additional corresponding indicia 222 so as to coincide with associated chip sensors 247 (not shown in FIG. 4) described above. In this way, players of the wagering game of chance can readily determine where to place chips (not shown) on the playing surface 216 during various phases of the game, such that the chip sensors 247 can provide appropriate chip detection signals to the computer 252 (see FIG. 3).

[0059] The indicia 222 can further include a plurality of commercial logos 264. As shown, the commercial logos 264 represent the maker of the gaming table 200 (see FIG. 3). In another case (not shown), the indicia 222 can be used to represent the logo of a casino, playing club, or other entity. The indicia 222 also include information 266 related to rules for playing the wagering game of chance (e.g., blackjack). Within the context of FIG. 4, it is assumed that the information 266 relates to “insurance” and its potential payoff during the course of the wagering game of blackjack. Other game playing information or designations (not shown) can be provided by use of the indicia 222.

[0060] As another non-limiting example (not shown), indicia can be formed on a playing surface of the present invention that relate to the placement of wagers (i.e., chips), rules, and/or payoffs for playing the game of craps. One of skill in the wager-gaming arts can appreciate that the game of craps utilizes a playing surface of considerable graphic complexity, relative to that of some other wagering games of chance, such as blackjack; however, graphics, indicia, peripheral shape and other characteristics associated with a playing surface for the game of craps (not shown) are readily anticipated by the present invention. Other playing surfaces associated with other wagering games of chance (not shown) are also within the scope of the present invention.

[0061] Thus, as can be seen, the playing surface of the present invention is particularly useful in conjunction with certain modern gaming tables used for wagering games of chance. That is, certain modern gaming tables include a relatively large number of openings formed in the top of the table, as compared to traditional gaming tables. For example, as depicted in FIG. 4, openings 238 are formed for chip sensors, openings 236 are formed for screen displays, opening 239 is formed for cabling, and opening 228 is formed for a chip tray. As depicted in FIG. 4, there are 24 openings 238 for chip sensors, and as can be further seen, these openings are relatively small. When a traditional felt playing surface is used on the gaming table depicted in FIG. 4, the felt will need to be sealed around each and every one of the chip sensor openings. Not only does this require significant time and effort, but it can be very difficult to align the corresponding openings in the felt covering with the small openings in the table top, particularly since the felt is traditionally stretched taught when it is applied to the table top. The playing surface of the present invention, on the other hand, enables chip sensor openings in the playing surface to be quickly aligned with the corresponding chip sensor openings in the table, merely by aligning the peripheral edge of the playing surface with the peripheral edge of the table top. Further, no adhesives are required to seal the openings in the playing surface of the present invention around the openings in the table top, since gravity alone will typically be sufficient to hold the playing surface in place. Further, the preferred material from which the base material of the playing surface of the present invention is made typically exhibits a high coefficient of static friction with respect to the table top (particularly as compared to prior art felt playing surfaces), thus further reducing the need for a separate adhesive or fasteners to be used to hold the playing surface in place on the table top.

[0062] The modern use of display screens (e.g., 246, FIG. 3) in wagering games of chance not only allows playing cards to be represented graphically, but also allows for the use of animated graphics and the like in wagering games of chance. This has lead to the development of new wagering games of chance that make use of these animated graphics, and expands the scope of wagering games of chance beyond the traditional games (e.g., blackjack, poker, etc.). It is thus desirable to be able to print the playing surface surrounding these screen displays with complex graphics to attract players who may be inclined to play more graphically-intense wagering games of chance. The playing surface of the present invention allows for the upper material (134, FIG. 2) to be printed with complex graphics, whereas prior art felt cannot, or cannot easily, be printed with complex graphics.

[0063] Persons who are inclined to play the modern wagering games of chance that incorporate the use of electronics (such as display screens (246, FIG. 3), electronic chip sensors (249, FIG. 3), and a computer (252, FIG. 3)) are,less bound by tradition, and therefore the traditional bias against playing on a playing surface other than felt is not a hindrance to using the playing surface of the present invention.

[0064]FIG. 5 is a flowchart depicting a method 300 of replacing a playing surface of a gaming table in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention. The method 300 shall be described in terms of the embodiment of FIG. 3 for clarity, but it is to be understood that the method 300 is substantially generic to the replacement of any existing wager-gaming table playing surface with a playing surface in accordance with the present invention.

[0065] In step 302, the edging 224 and the existing playing surface (not shown) are removed from the gaming table 200. When the existing playing surface is a prior art playing surface, then the support pad is removed as well. Removal of the prior art support pad can require scraping the table top to remove glue or other adheasive used to fasten the support pad to the table top.

[0066] In step 304, the playing surface 216 is supported (i.e., placed to rest) on the table top 212 and the mask layer 250 of the gaming table 200. No fasteners, adhesives, or other means of securing the playing surface 216 are necessarily utilized to place the playing surface in general alignment with the table top 212, and no stretching of the playing surface 216 is required to place the playing surface in general alignment with the table top 212 and openings therein.

[0067] In step 306, the playing surface 216 is manipulated (i.e., reoriented using translational and/or rotational forces, but excluding elongating forces) as needed to achieve alignment between the various surface apertures 228, 236, 238 and 239, and the corresponding apertures and/or elements underlying the playing surface 216. Generally, correspondence between the periphery of the playing surface 216 and the periphery of the table top 212 substantially achieves this alignment.

[0068] In step 308, the edging 224 is re-secured to the gaming table 200 via any fasteners, adhesives, or other means as desired or previously utilized (not shown). Alternately, the edging 224 can be rested on the playing surface 216 and aligned with the playing surface via a lip around the perimeter of the edging. The replacement process is now complete.

[0069] Playing surfaces in accordance with the present invention are generally summarized as follows: A flexible base material is bonded to a flexible top surface material, such that a single-piece playing surface is formed. Each playing surface can be formed from the materials described herein or from any suitable material or combination of other materials. Each playing surface is configured to self-assume a substantially planar orientation, under the influence of gravity alone, when supported by a suitable underlying planar surface. Each playing surface can include any number of through apertures, in any configuration, as required to accommodate other elements of the wagering game of chance for which the particular playing surface is intended. Each playing surface can bear any indicia, in any configuration, as required to carry out play of the wagering game of chance for which the particular playing surface is intended. Each playing surface is configured to be readily installed on a corresponding gaming table, without using any fasteners, adhesives, or other securing means in direct conjunction with the playing surface. Furthermore, each playing surface is configured to be installed on a corresponding gaming table without the need for stretching the playing surface before, during or after the installation process.

[0070] While the above methods and apparatus have been described in language more or less specific as to structural and methodical features, it is to be understood, however, that they are not limited to the specific features shown and described, since the means herein disclosed comprise preferred forms of putting the invention into effect. The methods and apparatus are, therefore, claimed in any of their forms or modifications within the proper scope of the appended claims appropriately interpreted in accordance with the doctrine of equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7144012Dec 27, 2005Dec 5, 2006Gail Lee GrigsbyDiejack
US7306516Mar 29, 2004Dec 11, 2007Alex IosilevskyElectronic game table
US8480091Dec 8, 2009Jul 9, 2013William H. FlorenceGaming table with interchangeable layouts
US8783688 *Jan 3, 2013Jul 22, 2014Gaming Partners International Usa, Inc.Gaming tables having a table top exchangeable insert
US20130207345 *Jan 3, 2013Aug 15, 2013Gaming Partners International UsaGaming tables having a table top exchangeable insert
EP2330536A2 *Oct 14, 2005Jun 8, 2011Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.Object, image data, image data transmission method, card, game mat, card game system, image analysis apparatus and image analysis method
WO2005042121A1 *Nov 3, 2004May 12, 2005Bally Gaming Int IncCovers for casino gaming table playing surfaces and methods of manufacturing and installing the same
WO2014107180A1 *Mar 7, 2013Jul 10, 2014Gaming Partners International Usa, Inc.Gaming tables having a table top exchangeable insert
Classifications
U.S. Classification273/274
International ClassificationA63F1/06, A47B25/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63F1/06, A47B25/00
European ClassificationA63F1/06, A47B25/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 18, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: DIGIDEAL CORPORATION, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KRISE, DAVID A.;KUHN, MICHAEL J.;SINES, RANDY D.;REEL/FRAME:013785/0553;SIGNING DATES FROM 20030212 TO 20030213