US 20050282612 A1
A gaming apparatus includes a housing with a front operable surface and a visual display region thereon. The visual display region includes a plurality of windows disposed in a rectangular positional array of four rows and four columns with a plurality of paylines defined by a line intersecting four adjacent elements in a single row, column or diagonal on the array. A button or mechanical arm on the housing will cause all of the symbols in the array to be randomly selected and displayed as part of a gaming sequence. A payout is generated if one or more of the selected paylines contain a predetermined number of predetermined symbols. The housing further includes three additional screen displays of various table games, for potential play if a winning combination is achieved in the main window.
1. A gaming display for use in a gaming apparatus with a sports theme, comprising:
a plurality of independently and randomly selected symbols disposed in a rectangular positional array of four rows and four columns of windows;
each said symbol of said plurality being directly related to a single predetermined sport; and
a plurality of individually selectable paylines respectively intersecting four rows, four columns and two diagonals of four symbols displayed in the windows of said array, whereby the outcome of a gaming sequence using said display is a function of the symbols displayed along a selected one or more of said paylines.
2. A gaming apparatus having a sports theme, comprising:
a housing having a front operable surface with a visual display region thereon;
said visual display region including a plurality of windows, each window displaying one of a plurality of independently and randomly selected symbols;
each said symbol of said plurality being directly related to a single predetermined sport;
said windows disposed in a rectangular positional array of four rows and four columns;
a plurality of paylines, each payline defined by a line intersecting four adjacent elements in a single row, column or diagonal on the array;
means on the housing for causing all of the symbols in the array to be randomly selected and displayed as part of a gaming sequence; and
means for identifying and generating a payout at the conclusion of a gaming sequence upon the display of predetermined symbols along at least one predetermined payline.
3. The gaming apparatus of
4. A method of playing a gaming apparatus of the type having a housing with a front operable surface and a visual display region thereon, said visual display region including a plurality of windows, each window displaying one of a plurality of independently and randomly selected symbols, said windows disposed in a rectangular positional array of four rows and four columns; comprising the steps of:
providing a plurality of paylines on said visual display region, each payline defined by a line intersecting four adjacent elements in a single row, column or diagonal on the array;
providing means on the housing for causing all of the symbols in the array to be randomly selected and displayed as part of a gaming sequence;
a patron placing a bet on one or more paylines;
the patron operating the means for causing the symbols to be randomly selected, after placing the bet; and
identifying winning and losing bets at the conclusion of a gaming sequence upon the display of predetermined symbols along the paylines for which a bet was placed; and
generating a payout in the event a winning bet was placed by the patron.
5. The method of
6. The method of
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/403,842, filed Aug. 16, 2002.
(1.) Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to gaming methods and apparatus of the slot machine type, and more particularly to an improved gaming apparatus that incorporates a sports theme with a slot machine apparatus, with ancillary table game participation also possible on the machine.
(2.) Background Information
Gambling and games of chance are popular sources of entertainment for many people. Such games of chance are more enjoyable if a variety of different gaming apparatus are available to the player. New forms of gaming apparatus and new methods of playing existing games can generate new interest and enthusiasm in this activity.
There are several reasons why slot machines are an ever-increasing factor relating to a casino's overall financial success. Increased competition in the casino industry has prompted operators and owner to bring more and newer types of slot machines into their establishments at a much higher rate, and much sooner, than they had at any time throughout the history of the slot machine. Also, today's casino players are more sophisticated, and thus demand more challenging game environments, such as games that are connected or related to other casino games. Simply put, there is a high demand for a new generation of gaming equipment with new and unique features.
Historically, slot machines were of the three-window configuration, with three vertically oriented wheels rotating independently of one another behind three horizontally arranged windows. Typically, each wheel included 10 separate symbols, which would then be aligned horizontally within the windows. The consumer would “win” based upon the particular arrangement of symbols in the three windows.
This game was then augmented by providing three horizontal rows of windows, with possible paylines horizontally along any of the three rows, or diagonally. This in turn was augmented with additional windows in each horizontal row, with the most known to the inventor to be three rows of five windows. However, some recent new slot designs which display five or more windows are considered more confusing than fun. This is especially true of those games where a payline is not a straight horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, but rather weaves up and down among the horizontal rows of windows from side to side.
One attempt to overcome this problem is set out in U.S. Pat. No. 6,241,607 to Payne et al., wherein a non-rectangular and/or non-orthogonal arrangement of gambling elements are disclosed. While this patent addresses some of the problems of prior art devices, it is believed that the non-rectangular arrangement of elements detracts from the simplicity of prior art straight line horizontal and vertical paylines with only two diagonal paylines.
It is also desirable to introduce a table game environment to slot machines, to take advantage of the popularity of both types of games in a single apparatus.
It is therefore a general object of the present invention to provide an improved method and gaming apparatus which incorporates a sports theme in a plurality of slot machines.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a method and gaming apparatus which provides the additional aspects of a table game to a slot machine.
Yet another object is to provide a method and gaming apparatus that is simple to play, and provides a possible progressive jackpot.
Still a further object of the present invention is to provide a slot machine arrangement that provides multiple straight horizontal and vertical paylines on a convention rectangular arrangement, but enhances the gaming experience with additional payline possibilities.
These and other objects will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
The gaming apparatus of the present invention includes a housing with a front operable surface and a visual display region thereon. The visual display region includes a plurality of windows disposed in a rectangular positional array of four rows and four columns with a plurality of paylines defined by a line intersecting four adjacent elements in a single row, column or diagonal on the array. A button or mechanical arm on the housing will cause all of the symbols in the array to be randomly selected and displayed as part of a gaming sequence. A payout is generated if one or more of the selected paylines contain a predetermined number of predetermined symbols. The housing further includes three additional screen displays of various table games, for potential play if a winning combination is achieved in the main window.
The preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which similar or corresponding parts are identified with the same reference numeral throughout the several views, and in which:
Referring now to the drawings, in which similar or corresponding parts are identified with the same reference numeral, and more particularly to
Referring now to
A support stand 34 is centered among the machines 32, to support an ancillary display board 36 above the bank of machines 32. Ancillary board 36 is a large horizontally oriented wheel with a vertical display 38 around its periphery that is operable to display data regarding a progressive jackpot or the like, so that patrons around the entire bank of machines 32, and in the entire casino, may easily view the results.
Each machine 32 is identical, except for the particular sports theme displayed on the machine, and therefore only one machine will be described in detail herein. Each slot machine 32 preferably has a sloped face 40 and a vertical face 42 which together form the operating surfaces of the machine.
Referring now to
Lower operating surface 40 includes a large display screen 52, with a rectangular arrangement of sixteen windows 54. Each window 54 has a reel or other apparatus for randomly generating and displaying a symbol within the window. While the particular symbols are not specifically depicted in
Because each window is individually operable to display a random symbol, there are 10 very simple and straight-forward paylines for the patron to view. Paylines I, II, III and IV are conventional horizontal paylines. Paylines V, VI, VII and VIII are vertical paylines. Paylines IX and X are the two diagonals of the arrangement.
It can be seen that the possible paylines are dramatically improved over the conventional nine-window arrangement of the prior art, shown in
An additional factor that enhances the play of the 4×4 arrangement of windows 54, is the relation of the symbols to a particular sport. This relation increases the recognition of winning combinations by a patron, since the patron will likely choose a machine depicting a sport with which the patron is familiar. In this way, the patron is not required to decipher confusing symbol combinations of lemons and cherries, bars and “7's”. Rather, they can rely on their knowledge of the sport to more easily recognize a winning combination.
There are preferably four different levels of possible winning combinations: (1) very small, frequent rewards; (2) medium-size less frequent rewards; (3) a standard mini-jackpot (such as $10,000); and (4) a large progressive jackpot. The four different levels of winning are directly related to the number of coins which a patron spends on each spin, with the higher rewards associated with more coins played. One example of a payout schedule is set forth in the following table. Note that the symbols described in the table relate to the game of football, as in the example described above.
It is preferred that the payouts be directly related to the number of coins that are spent by a patron on an individual round, with the higher possible payouts being only possible if the patron spends 3 or 4 coins on the round.
A plurality of selection buttons 60, individually identified as A-M, are provided on operating surface 40 below the display screen 52. Buttons 60 provide the patron with numerous possibilities for betting. For example, button H would permit the patron select a particular payline for a bet. Button J would permit the patron to select the amount of the bet. Button K would permit the patron to bet one credit on every payline. Button L would permit the patron to spin the reels (or to cause the machine to randomly change all of the symbols in the windows). Button M would permit the patron to repeat the last bet and spin the reels.
Buttons A-F are shaped differently, and intended to merely provide information to the patron. For example, button A would permit the patron to change a selection. Button B would display the past payouts. Button C would permit the patron to cash out. Button D would provide other related information about the game. Button E would permit the patron to obtain a credit voucher. Button F would be a “help” button.
Finally, button G would provide the spin for the bonus round, displayed in one of the three regions 44, 46 and 48 on the upper operable surface 42, when applicable. Obviously, the spin buttons could also be operated by an arm on the side of the machine, as in prior art mechanical slot machines, if the patron so desires.
It can be seen that there are essentially two types of winning combinations: a “win” relating to the symbols of the sport on an individual machine 32 (see
While the lower operating surface of a machine 32 is a stand-alone unit, it should be understood that all of the individual machines 32 of the arrangement 30 are linked to the progressive jackpot, as are any other arrangements of banks of machines locate in separate geographical locations (either on-site or off-site). An interactive win equates to an opportunity for the patron to particiapate in the simulation of a particular table game round. In the preferred embodiment, this table game round is automated, and not interactive. In other words, once the patron has won an opportunity to partake in one of these table game venues, they merely sit back and watch to see if they win or lose.
It can therefore be seen that the method and apparatus of the present invention provides the patron with numerous variables in wagering and possible winning combinations, without requiring the patron to follow weaving paylines or unusual and unaccustomed angles to determine if they have received a winning combination.
Whereas the invention has been shown and described in connection with the preferred embodiments thereof, many modifications, substitutions and additions may be made which are within the intended broad scope of the appended claims.