FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to casino games and, in particular, to novel casino games that are based on activities in financial markets.
Casino gambling is a large and growing industry throughout the world. Various types of betting products and systems exist that facilitate betting on the outcome of a particular game. For example, a patron in a casino may bet on a single hand of blackjack, a pull on a slot machine, a roll of the dice, etc. Typical horse racing bets allow bettors to wager on a single horse, on several horses in a particular race or series of races. For instance, a bettor can wager on a particular horse to finish first (win), finish in the top two (place), or finish in the top three (show). A bettor may also make various combination bets with multiple horses, such as an “exacta” bet (covering the top two horses in order) or a “trifecta” bet (covering the top three horses in order). In addition, a bettor may bet on a series of races, such as the daily double (winners of two consecutive races), the pick-three (winners of three consecutive races), and the pick-six (winners of six consecutive races).
Those betting on other sports may wager, for instance, on various aspects of the outcome of a particular game, including the winning team, the point margin by which that team wins, the combined final score of both teams, and so on. Wagers of this kind are generally well-known and unexceptional. Games or events (the terms “games” and “events” are used interchangeably to connote some probabilistic occurrence) upon which wagers may be placed may be viewed as games of pure chance (e.g., a coin toss or roulette wheel spin assuming the game is a “fair” one with no intervening human or mechanical influence skewing mathematical random distributions of outcome); games of mixed skill and chance (e.g., blackjack or horse racing); or games perceived of as consisting of pure skill (e.g., soccer, chess). All these games and events are believed to be at least somewhat probabilistic in nature. That is, there is more than one possible outcome that is not preordained. Even in games that are perceived as games of pure skill, it is believed that an effectively random element (based on, e.g., weather conditions, unforeseen player injuries, etc.) is almost always present.
Slot machines or other machines for player-initiated games of skill or chance (sometimes referred to as, or including video lottery terminals or video poker games) are becoming increasingly common fixtures in numerous jurisdictions across North America and elsewhere throughout the world. Conventional slot machines have one or more “pay lines” by which to determine whether the spin is a winning one. With each spin, different symbols appear on three or more reels (such as cherries, oranges, bells, or sevens). Preset combinations of symbols on the pay line return predetermined amounts to the player (e.g., three cherries may pay five times the amount wagered). Each spin of the reels generally represents one separate wager.
Online poker represents the symbiosis of two mega trends in gambling, online gambling and poker, and is currently the fastest growing gambling game. Providers of the online poker make their money with a small ‘rake’ from the pot in each game plus, to a lesser extent, tournament fees. What began as triumphant advance in the US is now leading to a global poker wave on the Internet with tremendous potential. The amount gambled on poker websites around the world is estimated to be more than $60 billion in 2005 and industry experts believe that online poker will be the dominant offering in online gambling and that the global annual rake in the 2-3 years will be more than $4 billion. An important reason for the rapid growth of online poker is the increasing number of successful TV shows featuring poker. There are many examples of successful poker TV coverage, among them the World Series of Poker on ESPN, Celebrity Poker on Bravo, and the European Poker Tour on Eurosport. An estimated 50 million Americans currently play poker, but few watched it on TV until the World Poker Tour hit the air in 2003. In Asia, online gaming subscription revenues are projected to more than double by 2008 to $1.84 billion from $760 million in 2003.
Most betting systems of the prior art are similar to a pull on a slot machine or a single hand of black jack in that they are based on the outcome of a single event or game—a “one-off transaction.” An exception may be found in certain progressive or “jackpot” slot machine systems. The progressive jackpot is made by taking a small percentage of all money played into a machine. The jackpot continues to grow as more people play the machine until a player hits the winning symbols for the progressive jackpot. Not all progressive machines are the same. There are actually three different types of progressive machines. The first type is the stand alone progressive machine, which is not linked to any other machines. The stand alone progressive machine takes a percentage of the coins played and adds that to the pot for the eventual progressive jackpot winner. The second type corresponds to in-house or proprietary progressive jackpot machines, which are a group of machines linked together and owned and operated by the casino where the machines are physically located. The third type is wide area progressive jackpot machines. These machines are linked together from many unrelated casinos, and are operated by an independent operator rather than a single casino. The casino shares in a percentage of the winnings but the operator owns the games. The casino and the independent operator, in the case of wide area progressive jackpots, take a fee off of the top of the progressive jackpot before it is paid out to the winner.
There are basically three types of payouts in casino games. The first is a pooled payout where the winner(s) of the game are paid the total pool of bets from the other players in the game, minus a fee for the house called a rake. A common example of a pooled payout game is poker, where the winner of each poker hand (game) receives the total pot bet by the players they beat. The second is a pari-mutuel payout where the winners are paid based on the odds that are calculated from the bets that are placed by the players in the game. In a pari-mutuel payout game the odds are calculated using high-speed electronic calculators, known as totalizators or tote boards, to calculate the odds as bets are placed and display the up-to-the-minute odds to the players. Similar to the pooled payout, in a pari-mutuel payout game, the winners share the total amount bet from the losers in the game minus a fee for the house. Thus, the uniqueness of both pooled and pari-mutuel payout games is that the players themselves determine the payout. A common example of gambling in a pari-mutuel format is sports betting where the winners are paid according to the odds established by the bets before the sporting event begins. The third type of payout is based on odds established by the house. In such a game the house pays the player when they win, and take the players bet when they lose, and typically the player simply keeps their bet if they tie the house in the game. The odds, and thus the payout to the player when they win is known by the house, and may, or may not, be known to the player. Typically the odds will be set by the house so the house has an advantage and thus over time and numerous bets the house will win more money than the players. A common example of a house payout game is blackjack where the player wins money from the house when their hand beats the house's hand, but the house takes the players money when the house's hand beats the player's hand.
Like gambling, interest in world financial markets has grown significantly in recent years. An increasing number of small individual investors participate in these markets, and there is a growing interest among the population as to how such markets function. In addition to equities, trading in derivatives and other sophisticated financial products has matured, and new types of financial products such as exchange traded funds and hedge funds are being introduced.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Despite the growing popularity of both casino gambling and financial markets, these concepts have not previously been integrated in casino games. The present invention addresses this shortcoming in the prior art, and is directed to novel casino games that are based on activity in financial markets.
The present invention is directed to a method used by a gambling operator or casino for conducting a game in which a plurality of players bet on the financial markets. A set of rules is established for each game and the rules define a winner based on at least one financial market data value that fluctuates based on market activity in a financial market that is distinct from the game. The rules of each game also determine how the players bet, how the game's odds are calculated and paid out to the winners of the game. Financial gambling games could be played using all three of the common casino game payouts, namely pooled, pari-mutuel or house payout. Updates to the financial market data value are electronically received from a third-party data source. A forum that is electronically coupled to the third-party data source is provided where the players play the game against each other or the house in accordance with the established set of rules and the at least one financial market data value. The gambling operator or casino collects a fee for conducting the game.
In some embodiments, the financial market data value corresponds to a value of a financial market instrument selected from the group consisting of: a stock, option, future, fund, bond or physical commodity. Alternatively, the financial market data value may correspond to an interest rate, index, exchange rate, or data release.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The forum where the game is played may correspond to a casino where all of the players are physically present during the game. Alternatively, the forum may correspond to an on-line forum that includes a computer network that permits communication among physically separated players during the game.
FIG. 1 illustrates a forum for conducting a casino game in accordance with the present invention, wherein the players are physically present in a common location during the game.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 2 illustrates an on-line forum for conducting a casino game in accordance with the present invention, wherein the players are physically separated from each other during the game.
The present invention includes methods and systems for creating and playing casino games that can be played in a physical gaming room or online, where the players bet, and the elements of the game consist of, for example, actual financial instruments that are traded on various financial exchanges around the world, or other financial data representative of the state of one or more financial markets. Financial data values that could be used in the games include any of the following: the values of financial securities, market indices, economic data or indicators, financial market data and indicators, foreign exchange rates, physical commodities and interest rates. Financial instruments which trade constantly, in significant volume, with higher than average volatility will be most attractive for use in these games as they will provide short-term movements that will keep the games exciting and fast-paced. Although in the description below, various embodiments of the present invention are described as being based on the use of financial instruments, it will be understood that each of these embodiments may be based on any financial data value such as the ones listed above.
The casino games of the present invention optionally combine elements, rules and strategies traditionally found in casino games and betting with strategies traditionally utilized in financial investing; thereby attracting players with knowledge and skills in both gambling and investing. In addition, since the players are betting against each other, or the house, and not against the overall financial markets as a whole, the games have particular appeal to players who believe, for one reason or another, that they possess superior knowledge or skill in the financial markets. Moreover, depending upon the odds of the bet placed by the player, a financial gambling player could win a relatively substantial amount of money from a relatively small winning bet based on a tiny change, or even no change in a financial data point; something not reasonably possible by investing in the actual financial markets. For example, in a pari-mutuel payout financial gambling game, a player betting that a historically volatile financial data point will not change during the course of a game could win a substantial amount of money given the odds the historically volatile instrument would in fact change during the course of the game would be substantial.
In various embodiments of casino games of the present invention, the players bet against the other players in the game, and the winnings paid to the winning players of the games consist of losses from the losing players in the games. This feature eliminates the requirement for the casino to make odds on the games or to define a spread for the games, and more importantly eliminates the requirement for the casino to make odds or to define a spread for the underlying elements of the game, specifically the financial markets. In a pari-mutuel payout format financial gambling game, where the players making winning bets divide the total amount of money bet during the game, the gambling operator utilizes commonly accepted high-speed electronic calculators, known as totalizators or tote boards, to record and display up-to-the-minute odds on the betting action by the players. The payouts at the end of these games are based on the odds calculated by the totalizators on a pari-mutuel basis where the players making winning bets divide the total amount of money bet during the game, minus the fee collected by the gambling operator or casino.
Among other things, the present invention allows players within a physical or online casino to gamble in a gaming format that combines both financial investment and casino gaming and betting strategies. For example, in a casino game where the players bet on who can assemble the best performing financial portfolio during a short-term time period, all the player's financial portfolios could lose value, but still the player whose portfolio performed the best, would win the game and the subsequent gambling winnings.
In one embodiment, players are “dealt” or they assemble (based on their own financial strategies) their portfolio from a menu (for basic games simple securities, like just equities would be on the menu, for advanced games, players could choose from a wide array of options, futures, commodities, currencies, etc.). Each player then competes against the other players in the game to generate the best return on their portfolio. The game could have similar elements to other casino games. For example, players could “parlay” or “double down” additional bets, or make an “all-in” wager, as the game proceeded, or place an “insurance” bet analogous to the one included in casino blackjack games. The games could either be for a predefined time frame where, upon ending, players are paid out according to their position, just like a payout at the end of a hand of cards, or there could be a continuous game where each player would be paid out based on how he did vs. the other players from the time he started or “logged into” the game, to the moment he ended or “logged out” of the game. The game could have similar elements to other pari-mutuel gambling games. For example, a player might be able to make various combination bets with multiple financial data points, such as an “exacta” bet, covering the top two data points in order, or a “trifecta” bet, covering the top three data points in order. In addition, a bettor may bet on a series of games, such as a “daily double” bet, where the player attempts to predict the winning financial data points of two consecutive games, a “pick-three” bet, where the player attempts to predict the winning financial data points of three consecutive games, and a “pick-six” bet, where the player attempts to predict the winning financial data points of six consecutive games. In some embodiments, in order to participate in a game, each player must initially convert his/her money into chips issued by the casino, the player then uses the chips for wagering during the game and, when the player exits the game or the game ends, the player converts the chips back into money.
The game could be played online, or in a physical gaming room of a casino. Players online would adjust their positions via the online user-interface using their mouse and keyboards, while casino players could either have a console by which they could play the game, or the casino could even simulate a market trading floor where players would call out or hand signal their positions to casino workers (e.g., workers 25 in FIG. 1) who would make the appropriate adjustments to their portfolio as signaled. The financial gambling game would continuously stream financial market and game data to the players on their respective screens or on large LCD screens in the casino.
FIG. 1 illustrates a forum for conducting a casino game in accordance with the present invention, wherein the players 20 are physically present in a common location (i.e., financial gambling room 10 of a casino) during the game. The gambling operator or casino establishes a set of rules for the game. The rules define one or more players 20 as winners, based on at least one financial market data value that fluctuates based on market activity in a financial market 30 that is distinct from the game. Financial market 30 corresponds, for example, to a government-regulated financial market or an over-the-counter financial market. For purposes of this description, each player 20 corresponds either to a single person or a group of persons that collectively participate in the game as a team.
The gambling operator or casino subscribes to one or more financial market data services, collects financial market information including the at least one financial market data value from the market data services using computerized networks 50, 52, stores the financial market information in database 60, and displays the financial market data and other pertinent game data, to the players 20 on large screens 70 visible to all players 20. In an alternate embodiment, the streaming financial and game data is provided to each of the players on a computer screen of an individual gaming console. The financial data 40 provided to the gambling operator or casino from the third-party data source may comprise streaming financial data such as that provided by Bloomberg or other recognized financial data services. The financial market data value(s) used in the game correspond to a value of a financial market instrument such as a stock, option, future, fund, bond or physical commodity, or a value of an interest rate, index, exchange rate, or data release. Updates to the financial market data value are electronically received from a third-party data source 40 over computer networks 50, 52. Financial gambling room 10 is electronically coupled to the third-party data source 40. During the game, players 20 play and bet against each other in accordance with the established set of rules and the at least one financial market data value. The financial market data value(s) used in the game correspond to a financial market instrument such as a stock, option, future, fund, bond or physical commodity, or an interest rate, index, exchange rate, or data release. The casino collects a fee for conducting the game.
The gambling operator or casino's database 80 stores the gaming history of each player 20 including previous game scores, bets and winnings. As described below, the player's gaming history stored in database 80 is used by the gambling operator or casino to determine eligibility for participation in future games, tiers, or tournaments. Based on information stored in database 80 and criteria established by the gambling operator or casino, the casino may establish one or more gaming tiers or levels for players to compete. A player's ability to compete within a tier or level could be based upon the player's historical bets and winnings. Players move between different tiers or levels as they reach a particular threshold which promotes the player into a higher tier or level, or demotes the player down to a lower tier or level. The gaming tiers or levels may be established to promote or demote players from higher or lower stakes games, or in a tournament format where winning players continue to participate in the tournament, and losing players are eliminated from the tournament. In one embodiment, each gaming tier or level specifies one or more maximum bets that each player may make. Optionally, the stored gaming history for a player may include both past scores and winnings of the player that occurred during participation by the player in an on-line forum where the player was physically separated from other players during the game, and past scores and winnings of the player that occurred during participation by the player in a forum where the player was physically present with other players during the game. The database 80 also optionally maintains an odds book based on bets placed by the players 20 and displays the results to the players on screens 70 prior to commencement of a game. In this embodiment, payouts at the end of the game are based on the pari-mutuel odds calculated by the totalizators.
A variety of fees may be charged by the gambling operator or casino for conducting or hosting the game. For example, the casino may charge an initial fee (or an entry fee) to each player 20 who participates in the game. A fee corresponding to a percentage of amounts wagered by the players 20 during the game can also be collected by the casino. Alternatively, the fee collected by the casino may correspond to a fixed fee associated with each round of the game, or a percentage of winnings.
The casino game of the present invention optionally utilizes a gaming element with an outcome based on chance such as, for example, playing cards, dice, or a wheel. In these embodiments, the outcome of the game is determined in accordance with the at least one financial market data value that fluctuates during the game and an outcome of the gaming element. In one such embodiment the outcome of the game could be based on whether or not a financial data point matches a random number, or series of numbers. Using a slot or similar machine to generate a random number from at least one spinning wheel, a player would win the game if the randomly generated numbers from the machine matched all, or a portion of, a particular financial data point. The outcome of the game may further be determined in accordance with the betting strategy of the winner or other players 20.
In some embodiments of the present invention, the outcome of the game is determined in accordance with an accuracy by which the winner predicts a future value of the at least one financial market data value (e.g., the future value of a stock, bond or interest rate). The outcome of the game may also be fully or partially determined by the amount of money a player has won from other players in the game.
In one embodiment where, for example, each player holds a portfolio of financial instruments, each player assigns varying weights of importance to one or more financial data values or predictions about how each of the financial instruments will perform during the game, and the weights are used to calculate a score for the player. Alternatively, each player may wager varying amounts on each of a plurality of financial data values or predictions.
During the game, the score of each player, the financial data points held by each player, and/or the accuracy of predictions made by each player about how each of the financial instruments held by the player will perform during the game, may be displayed to all other players during the game on screens 70 or individual gaming consoles (not shown). Alternatively, some or all of this information about the position of a player in the game may be maintained in secret from one or more other players during one or more segments of the game, or during all of the game. For example, some or all of this information for a particular player may only be revealed to other players during one or more intermediate segments of the game. In other embodiments, the players might not know the financial data points and/or the accuracy of predictions made by the player, until the very end of the game. Such embodiments provide opportunities where players could implement gambling strategies such as those implemented in poker to bluff other players into believing they held a superior and potentially winning combination of financial data points and/or predictions, when in fact they held an inferior and most likely a losing combination of the same. If the strategy worked, and the other players in the game folded, the player with the inferior and most likely losing combination of financial data point and/or predictions would win the game based on their gambling strategy. In another embodiment, the game rules may be such that a player is eliminated from the game when the score of the player or a financial market data value reaches or falls below a predetermined threshold.
As mentioned above, the rules of the game may provide for the random assignment of financial instruments to each player (e.g., each player is dealt a set of cards by the casino, where each of the cards corresponds to a different financial instrument). In some of these embodiments, the game rules may provide for exchange, during at least one game interval, of one or more financial instruments initially assigned at random to each player for one or more further financial instruments assigned at random to the player. For example, a player may “discard” one of the financial instruments previously “dealt” to the player at which time another financial instrument will be “dealt” to the player. The game rules may also provide for the elimination of financial instruments that are performing poorest at one or more intervals during the game, and players holding eliminated financial instruments are either eliminated from the game, or are permitted to re-pick (or are dealt) one or more financial instruments from remaining financial instruments in the game.
The casino may maintain odds for the game (e.g., odds that each player will win) and may periodically recalculate the odds for each player during the game. In these embodiments, the rules established by the casino may permit each player to adjust their positions or predictions during the game, and a player who selects a correct position or makes a correct prediction will win a varying amount depending upon when the player selected the correct position or made the correct prediction. For example, the winnings of a player who selects a correct position or makes a correct prediction will decrease over time depending on when the player selected the correct position or made the correct prediction.
In some embodiments, players must increase their bets at certain intervals of the game in order to remain in the game, or players must match a bet of at least one other player at certain intervals of the game in order to remain in the game. The rules may also set a minimum wager (e.g., an ante), a maximum wager, or both, for each player in the game. The rules established by the casino may also provide each player with an ability to wager money in order to purchase an option that permits the player to trade-out one financial instrument for another financial instrument held by the player, change a weighting or prediction assigned to a financial instrument, increase a bet, or purchase insurance against an unfavorable outcome.
The rules may be established such that the game ends after a predetermined period of time has elapsed. Alternatively, the game may have an indefinite end time. For example, the casino may pay each player when the player leaves the game or at one or more intermediate points during the game, based on the relative performance of the player compared to the other players in the game, from the time the player joined the game to a later time. In other embodiments, the game ends when a score of a player reaches a predetermined threshold, or when the value of a particular financial instrument or other financial data value reaches a predetermined threshold.
Based on information stored in database 80 and criteria established by the casino, the casino may establish one or more gaming tiers or levels for players to compete. A player's ability to compete within a tier or level could be based upon the player's historical performance or winnings. Players move between different tiers or levels as they reach a particular threshold which promotes the player into a higher tier or level, or demotes the player down to a lower tier or level. The gaming tiers or levels may be established to promote or demote players from higher or lower stakes games, or in a tournament format where winning players continue to participate in the tournament, and losing players are eliminated from the tournament. In one embodiment, each gaming tier or level specifies one or more maximum bets that each player may make.
The game rules may permit players to bet on the relative performance of a common predefined set of financial instruments over a predetermined set of time. In these embodiments, the rules may provide that the winners of the game are those players who made correct predictions and the winnings paid to those players will include losses from the players with the incorrect predictions. In an example of such a game, each player ranks the common set of financial instruments from 1 to X, where X equals the total number of financial instruments in the set, and places a bet that the performance of the financial instruments in the common set during a predetermined period of time will rank in the same order as the rankings made by the player. The rules may also permit each player to place a combined bet on the financial instruments from the common set that will perform best, second best and third best, during a predetermined period of the game or during successive predetermined periods of the game. Such bets would be analogous to “win”, “place” or “show” bets, or exacta or trifecta bets in the case of horse racing. The rules may also permit each player to place a combined bet on the financial instruments from the common set that will perform worst, second worst and third worst, during a predetermined period of the game.
The payouts made by the casino to the players at the end of the game may vary. For example, a first place winner of the game can be paid the total amount of the bets placed during the game by all the players, minus the fee collected by the casino. Alternatively, the first place winner of the game will receive the highest share of the total bets placed during the game by all the players, minus the fee collected by the casino, and some or all of the other participants receive smaller shares of the total bets placed during the game by all the players. In a still further embodiment, each player that made a correct prediction about the performance of a financial instrument wins and all other players lose.
In one embodiment, the game may include a progressive jackpot made, for example, by pooling a small percentage of all money wagered during previous game(s). The progressive jackpot could be triggered by, for example, a player winning a fixed number of games in a row or by an amount that exceeds a certain threshold. The jackpot will continue to grow as more people play until the progressive jackpot is triggered. The progressive jackpot could correspond to a stand alone progressive jackpot, which is linked only to a single game at a casino. Alternatively, the progressive jackpot could correspond to an in-house or proprietary progressive jackpot, where wagers from a group of games linked together and owned and operated by the casino are pooled to create the jackpot. In addition, the progressive jackpot may correspond to a wide area progressive jackpot, where wagers from different games are linked together from many unrelated casinos, and are operated by an independent operator rather than a single gaming company. The casino shares in a percentage of the winnings but the operator owns the progressive jackpot aspect of the game.
FIG. 2 illustrates an on-line forum for conducting a casino game in accordance with the present invention. In contrast to FIG. 1, in the embodiment of FIG. 2, players 20 are physically separated from each other during the game. Rather than all the players being physically present in the same gambling room, each of the players 20 in this embodiment is connected to the other players and the casino by computer networks 50, 52. In the online embodiment shown, each player 20 creates an account within the online forum for accessing the game over the computer network. During creation of the online account, each player 20 establishes an online payment method for funding bets, such as a credit card, bank draft, electronic check, electronic funds transfer or PayPalŪ services. Except for the fact that the players are located remotely from each other, the game forum shown in FIG. 2 functions substantially the same as the forum of FIG. 1. It will be understood that various combinations of the game forums shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 are possible, such that some of the players will be physically present in the gambling room 10 while other players will be connected to the gambling room 10 remotely over computer networks 50, 52.
Considering the breadth of gambling games, financial data points and investment strategies, there are numerous games that could be created from the combination of gambling games and financial instruments. All such combinations are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims.