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Publication numberUS20060258442 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/382,867
Publication dateNov 16, 2006
Filing dateMay 11, 2006
Priority dateMay 13, 2005
Publication number11382867, 382867, US 2006/0258442 A1, US 2006/258442 A1, US 20060258442 A1, US 20060258442A1, US 2006258442 A1, US 2006258442A1, US-A1-20060258442, US-A1-2006258442, US2006/0258442A1, US2006/258442A1, US20060258442 A1, US20060258442A1, US2006258442 A1, US2006258442A1
InventorsChad Ryan
Original AssigneeRyan Chad A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multi-purpose casino chips
US 20060258442 A1
Abstract
This application describes, among other things, a plurality of casino games located in a gaming establishment wherein at least some of the games include a reader component that detects a RFID tag in proximity to the reader component and produces detection information indicative at least in part of the detection of a particular one of a RFID tag carried by an individual in the gaming establishment. An information system includes software operable on the system to record information concerning the movement and activities of an individual in a gaming establishment as determined from reading individual RFID tags by the reader components. According to an alternate embodiment, games include RFID tags that can be detected by other games using the RF reader component. Accordingly, the information system can determine the location and movement of an individual through a gaming establishment, as well as determine which games are in proximity to each other where such games are outfitted with a RFID tag. In another embodiment, a plurality of betting articles with RFID tags take the form of chips used to place bets at a table game such as a poker or blackjack table, or at a gaming machine such as a video poker game or slot machine, wherein RFID reading devices read identification tags associated with the articles and the chips can be used in either type game.
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Claims(20)
1. A method comprising:
accepting at least one betting article from a player at a table game wherein the betting article is used to place a bet and wherein the betting article includes a radio frequency identification tag device associated therewith;
reading information about the betting article from the tag device while the betting article is located at the table game; and
accepting at a later time the at least one betting article in a gaming machine, wherein the gaming machine reads information about the at least one betting article from the associated tag device, and the gaming machine crediting the player with an amount determined at least in part using the information read from the tag device.
2. A method according to claim 1 further including dispensing the one or more betting articles from a gaming machine.
3. Apparatus comprising an acceptor mechanism capable of accepting a betting article adapted for use at least both as a betting article used at a table game and as a token for placing a bet at a gaming device.
4. Apparatus comprising:
a gaming machine including an acceptor capable of accepting an article used as a betting article in a casino; and
the article including a radio frequency identification tag.
5. Apparatus according to claim 4 further wherein the gaming machine includes a dispensing mechanism that dispenses the article used as a betting article.
6. Apparatus comprising:
a plurality of articles each including a radio frequency identification tag, the identification tag including one or more items of data capable of uniquely identifying the article;
a computing system adapted to track data pertaining to the articles, wherein the data pertaining to the articles is at least in part determined using the one or more items of data associated with an identification tag;
a reading device positioned at a table game, wherein the reading device can read at least one of the identification tags associated with the articles; and
a reading device positioned at a gaming machine, wherein the reading device can read at least one of the identification tags associated with the articles.
7. Apparatus according to claim 6 further wherein the gaming machine includes a dispensing mechanism that dispenses at least one of the plurality of articles.
8. Apparatus according to claim 6 wherein the plurality of articles are located on the premise of a first gaming establishment.
9. Apparatus according to claim 6 wherein the plurality of articles are located on at least two different gaming establishments.
10. A system comprising:
a plurality of casino games located in a gaming establishment wherein at least some of the games include a reader component adapted to detect a RFID tag in proximity to the reader component and read data from the RFID tag, wherein the RFID tag is carried by one or more betting articles used in the gaming establishment, wherein at least some of the games that include the reader component are table games and other of the games that include the reader component are gaming machines; and
an information system including software operable on the system to record information concerning the betting articles used in the gaming establishment.
11. A system according to claim 10 further including a data transmission system connecting the reader component to the information system and wherein the transmission system comprises physical connectors connecting the information system to the reader components.
12. A system according to claim 10 further including a data transmission system connecting the reader component to the information system and wherein the transmission system comprises RF transmission components passing data between the reader components and the information system using radio frequency transmissions.
13. A system according to claim 10 wherein the reader component is an antenna.
14. A system according to claim 13 further wherein the reader component includes a reader unit receiving input from the antenna.
15. A system according to claim 14 further wherein the reader unit is located in the casino game.
16. A system according to claim 15 further wherein the reader unit is located outside of the casino game.
17. A system according to claim 16 further including a reader unit receiving input from a plurality of antennas wherein the antennas are located in two or more different casino games.
18. A method comprising:
providing a RFID tag on a betting article used in a gaming establishment;
the individual carrying the betting article as they move about or play games in the gaming establishment; and
using a RFID tag reader component situated in or near a casino game to receive information from the RFID tag, wherein at least one of the casino games is a table game and another one of the casino games is a gaming machine.
19. A method according to claim 18 further including altering game play for an individual in response to detecting a betting article at a game based on detecting a RFID tag.
20. A method according to claim 19 further wherein the casino game is at least in part an electronically controlled game.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/680,984 filed May 13, 2005, which application is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains generally to casino gaming, and more particularly to methods, systems, and software for using radio frequency identification technology in a gaming establishment.

COPYRIGHT

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material to which the claim of copyright protection is made. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any person of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but reserves all other rights whatsoever. Copyright 2006, WMS Gaming, Inc.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gaming establishments typically strive to provide a player with a satisfying experience while ensuring that the gaming establishment has the best possible chance to maximize revenue and profit from each player. Creating a satisfying experience can be assisted by making gaming convenient and easy for the player. Maximizing revenue may be assisted by reducing fraud or cheating. Described below are various embodiments of the inventive subject matter hereof that may, among other things, assist in improving a player's experience in a gaming establishment and also in enhancing a gaming establishment's profit by reducing fraud or cheating or by other means.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIGS. 1-9 illustrate various system embodiments of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein.

FIGS. 10-18 illustrate various method embodiments of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTIVE SUBJECT MATTER

In the following detailed description of the embodiments of the inventive subject matter, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the inventive subject matter may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the inventive subject matter, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present inventive subject matter. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present inventive subject matter is defined only by the appended claims.

Referring now to FIG. 1 there is illustrated in block diagram form of a system 100 according to a first example embodiment of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein. System 100 is capable of tracking individuals 101 in a gaming establishment 104 such as a casino in which a number of casino games 102 are deployed. The individuals are provided with and carry or wear a radio frequency identification (RFID) tags 108. RFID tags 108 may be, for example, embedded or mounted in a plastic carrier 109, such as a picture identification card. A RFID tag 108 is, in one example embodiment, capable of emitting one or more signals that can be used by a reader component 106 mounted in or on or proximate a casino game 102. The reader component reads the RFID tag 108 and obtains information stored in the tag that can be used to uniquely identify it. Accordingly, when an individual 101 brings a RFID tag 108 into proximity to a reader component 106, the reader component 106 detects one or more signals from the device 108. The reader component 106 in turn generates one or more signals or data that is indicative of the identity of the RFID tag. Thus, by virtue of knowing the location of the reader component 106, the location of the RFID tag 108 can be ascertained. A system 120 is provided for processing and recording data collected from RFID tags 108, as described in more detail below.

As used herein, the term casino game encompasses, without limitation, slot machines, video poker machines, roulette tables, poker tables, craps tables and any other game of chance offered by a gaming establishment wherein for example the game qualifies as regulated and/or licensed gaming equipment. The term gaming establishment refers to an establishment that offers casino gaming experiences to its patrons and, in one example embodiment, is licensed by a gaming regulatory authority to provide such gaming experiences.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the reader component 106 positioned in or on the game 102 may be a reader unit 204 that supports at least one antenna 202 that is co-located with the unit 204, such as the stationary reader model RDR-001, sold by Matrics, Inc., of Columbia, Md., U.S.A. The antenna 202 may be the general purpose antenna model number ANT-001 also available from Matrics, Inc. In the alternative, a reader unit 204 may support two or more antennas 202 that are located remotely from unit 204. RFID tag 108 may be, for example, the EPC Version 1 UHF RFID tag available from Matrics, Inc.

Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify individual items. There are several methods of identifying objects using RFID tags, such as tags 108. One of the most common is to store a serial number that identifies an item, thing, or person (such as an individual carrying an RFID tag 108), and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves returned from the RFID tag into a form that can then be passed on to, for example the system 120, that can make use of it. While it depends on the particular RFID tag and the application, one example embodiment of a RFID tag 108 carries about 2 KB of data—enough to store some basic information about the item or person it represents.

As described in various configurations below, an RFID system such as system 100 may comprise a RFID tag 108, which is made up of a microchip with, for example, a coiled antenna, and an interrogator or reader with an antenna, referred to herein in some instances as a reader component 106 generally, or more specifically as may be provided in some embodiments as a reader unit 204 and antenna 202. Reader unit 204 may include an integral or co-located antenna, or it may be deployed with one or remote antennas deployed at some distance from the unit 204. Remote antennas may be coupled to the reader unit 204 with a wireline connection. The reader 204 generates electromagnetic waves from the antenna 204 that form a magnetic field when they “couple” with the antenna on the RFID tag. According to one example embodiment, system 100 or other embodiments herein below described use passive tags that have no battery. These passive tags draw power from the reader, which sends out electromagnetic waves that induce a current in the tag's antenna. The RFID tag draws power from this current and uses it to power the microchip's circuits. The chip then modulates the waves that the tag sends back to the reader and the reader converts the new waves into digital data. Most passive RFID tags simply reflect back waves from the reader. Energy harvesting, on the other hand, is a technique in which energy from the reader is gathered by the tag, stored momentarily, and transmitted back at a different frequency.

According to another example embodiment of the RFID tags 108, there are provided active RFID tags that have a battery, which is used to run the microchip's circuitry and to broadcast a signal to a reader (for example like the way a cell phone transmits signals to a base station). Semi-passive tags can also be used in the embodiments herein, and use a battery to run the chip's circuitry, but communicate by drawing power from the reader. Active and semi-passive tags are useful for tracking items that need to be scanned over long ranges, but they cost more than passive tags. The read range of passive tags may not be as far as active tags, for example for some example technology, less than ten feet as opposed to one-hundred (100) feet or more for active tags. More particularly, the read range of passive tags depends on many factors: the frequency of operation, the power of the reader, interference from metal objects or other RF devices. In general, low-frequency tags are read from a foot or less. High frequency tags are read from about three feet and UHF tags are read from 10 to 20 feet. Where longer ranges are needed, active tags use batteries to boost read ranges to 300 feet or more.

Radio frequency identification in system 100 does not require line of sight. RFID tags can be read as long as they are within range of a reader. Radio waves travel through most non-metallic materials, allowing RFID tags or the readers to be embedded in packaging or encased in protective plastic for weather-proofing and greater durability. Or, in the alternative, the reader component 106 can be mounted in a housing provided that the radio waves can traverse the housing, either by going through a wall, window or opening in the housing. However, reading an RFID through a metallic barrier can be more difficult.

RFID tags and readers have to be tuned to the same frequency to communicate. RFID systems can use many different frequencies, but generally the most common are low- (around 125 KHz), high- (13.56 MHz) and ultra-high frequency, or UHF (850-900 MHz). Microwave (2.45 GHz) is also used in some applications. Different frequencies have different characteristics that make them more useful for different applications. For instance, low-frequency tags are cheaper than ultra high frequency (UHF) tags, use less power and are better able to penetrate non-metallic substances. UHF frequencies typically offer better range and can transfer data faster. But they use more power and are less likely to pass through materials. And because they tend to be more “directed,” they may require a clear path between the tag and reader.

System 100 and other embodiments disclosed herein may be implemented with read-write or read-only RFID tags 108. With read-write chips, an application can add information to the tag or write over existing information when the tag is within range of a reader, or interrogator. Some read-only microchips have information stored on them during the manufacturing process. The information on such chips can never be changed. Another option is to use electrically erasable programmable read-only memory, or EEPROM. With EEPROM, the data can be overwritten using a special electronic process.

It is noted that one problem encountered with RFID is the signal from one reader can interfere with the signal from another where coverage overlaps. This is called reader collision. One way to avoid the problem is to use a technique called time division multiple access, or TDMA. In simple terms, the readers are instructed to read at different times, rather than both trying to read at the same time. This ensures that they don't interfere with each other. But it means any RFID tag in an area where two readers overlap will be read twice. Accordingly, in one example embodiment of the systems and methods described hereinabove, the system or method is operated so that if one reader reads a tag another reader does not read it again. Another problem readers have is reading a lot of RFID tags in the same field. Tag collision occurs when more than one chip reflects back a signal at the same time, confusing the reader. Different vendors of RFID technology have developed different systems for having the tags respond to the reader one at a time. Since they can be read in milliseconds, it appears that all the tags are being read simultaneously.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, reader component 106 is configured to communicate with an information system 120 through a communication channel 130, shown for some embodiments in FIGS. 3 and 4. Information system 120 may be disposed in the gaming establishment 104 or at a remote site. System 120 includes at least one processing unit 122 and software 124 operable on the system to record and process data read from RFID tags 108 as read by the tag reader components 106. Through the processing of this data and using other stored data, system 120 can track the position of an individual 101 in the gaming establishment 104 and determine which games 102 the individual 101 is playing and for how long. To provide this functionality, software 124 additionally operates to maintain a database 125 of records representing individuals 101, reader components 106 and the casino game they are associated with, RFID tags 108 and the individuals they are assigned or associated with, and the location of RFID tag 108 over a desired period of time. Accordingly, the recorded RFID location information (as determined by the detection of such RFID tags at a casino game 102) allows system 120 to track the location, movement, and game play of an individual 101 in the casino.

As noted above, data transmission system 130, shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 provides for conveying data from or between the reader components 106, such as a reader unit 204, to the information system 120. According to one alternate embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the data transmission system 130 comprises physical connectors 302 connecting the information system 120 to the reader component 106, such as through an Ethernet connection. According to another alternate embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4, the data transmission system 130 comprises RF transmission components 402 passing data between the reader component 106 and the information system 120 using radio frequency transmissions 404.

Referring now to FIG. 5, there is illustrated an embodiment 500 in which the reader component 106 is located on the side 502 of a housing of a casino game 504. In the alternate embodiment 600 shown in FIG. 6, a reader component 106 is located within the housing 602 of the casino game 604. In either embodiment 500 or 600, the reader component 106 can either be an antenna 202 alone, with the reader unit 204 located remotely from the casino game, or the reader component 106 can be a reader unit 204 that includes an antenna 202.

As illustrated in FIG. 7, in one example embodiment 700 according the inventive subject matter disclosed herein, a reader unit 204 receives input from a plurality of antennas 202, wherein the antennas are located in two or more different casino games 102.

Referring now to FIG. 8, there is illustrated an alternate embodiment 800 wherein the software 124 operable on information system 120 includes program code 806 that may have the capability of sending game play control instructions or data 809 to the one or more casino games 102. Games 102 may include an electronic controller 812 (including for example a programmed computer) adapted to be responsive to instructions or data 809 from a remote system such as system 120 to control the operation of the game 102.

In yet another alternate embodiment, program code 806 is operable on system 120 for recording the individual's game playing history in one or more records in a database 125. In a further alternate embodiment of the system of FIG. 8, program code 806 is capable of sending instructions to a casino game 102 to alter game play for an individual 101 in response to the detection of an individual at the game 102, as determined by detecting a RFID tag 108 carried by the individual 101. In yet another alternate embodiment illustrated by FIG. 8, program code 806 may be configured to work with a RFID tag 108 that is part of a token or machine readable card an individual uses in connection with playing casino games. For example, a token or machine readable card may include a magnetic strip or smart card components.

In further alternate embodiments of the inventive matter described herein shown in FIG. 9, a reader component 106 may be mounted in a casino game 102 to facilitate RF radiation traversing the game housing, such as through the belly glass of the game. As also shown in FIG. 9, in an alternate embodiment a RF reader component 106 may be situated on the side 908 of a casino game 102.

Referring again to FIG. 9, there is illustrated still another alternate embodiment 900. In embodiment 900, at least some of the casino games 102 additionally include a RFID tag 108 mounted on or in the games 102. In this embodiment, the RF reader components 106 in a game 102 can detect the presence of a RFID tag 108 in or on another game 102. In this embodiment, software 124 in system 120 includes program code 902 capable of maintaining one or more records that indicate the association of a RFID tag 108 with a particular game 102, and thereby determine which other games 102 having RFID tags 108 that are near the particular game 102. The reader component 106, in this and other embodiments, may also be configured to determine the direction from which an identified RFID tag 108 emission is emanating, providing some directional information that can be used to determine the relative orientation of a detected game or individual with regard to the detecting component 106. Still further, in this alternate embodiment, program code 902 keeps records of casino games 102 and associated RFID tags 108. Accordingly, based on the detection by a first game 102 of nearby games 102 having RFID tags 108, software 124 can determine which casino games are in proximity with one another. In yet another alternate embodiment of the above, program code 902 is capable of sending instructions to the individual casino games 102 so that the game play can be altered based on the proximity of casino games 102 to each other as determined by reading the RFID tags 108 and also based on the detection of a particular individual 101 near or at a game 102. This embodiment enables casino games in proximity to each other to act in concert, and to offer complimentary game play or coordinated game play. Accordingly, a player 101 may be presented with game play options on nearby games 102 that are customized for or known or thought to be desirable for the player 101.

Referring to FIG. 10, a first method 1000 according to the inventive subject matter disclosed herein is described. Method 1000 includes providing a tracking device including a RFID tag to an individual in a gaming establishment, as illustrated in flow chart item 1002. The individual carries the RFID tag with him or her as they play games in the gaming establishment, as represented by flow chart block 1004. As shown in flow chart item 1006, a RFID tag reader situated in or near a casino game is used to detect an individual in proximity to a casino game.

According to one alternate embodiment of method 1000, an individual is detected in proximity to a casino game whether or not the individual plays the game. According to yet another alternate embodiment, an individual's game playing history is recorded based on the detection of a RFID tag carried by the individual as he or she plays casino games. In another alternate embodiment of FIG. 10, method 1000 further includes data transmission method whereby physical connectors connect the information method to the reader components, or RF transmission components pass data between the reader components and the information method using radio frequency transmissions.

In still a further alternate embodiment shown as method 1100 in FIG. 11, the game play of a casino game is altered, as indicated by flow chart item 1104, based on detecting that a particular individual is playing the game as detected using the RFID tags and RF reader components, as illustrated by flow chart item 1106.

According to one alternate embodiment, the casino game that is altered is at least in part an electronically controlled game such that game play commands and data may be sent to the game through a signal conveyance in order to alter game play.

According to still another example embodiment of the methods of the inventive subject matter described herein, a RFID tag is part of a token or machine readable card an individual uses in connection with playing in the casino or playing a casino game. For example, the RFID tag may be part of an identification card or a credit or debit card the player is provided by the gaming establishment.

Referring now to FIG. 12, there is illustrated yet another method embodiment 1200 in which RF signals are passed from a RFID tag, as indicated as flow chart item 1202, to a RF reader component inside of a casino game, or, as indicated by item 1204, from a RF reader component inside of a game to a RFID tag outside the game and for example carried by an individual in a gaming establishment. According to one example embodiment of the method, the RF signals are passed through the belly glass or other RF permeable portion of a casino game.

Another alternate embodiment of the method 1200 further includes another block facilitating RF radiation traversing the game housing by situating the reader component in the casino game. In a yet another alternate embodiment of FIG. 12, further includes situating the RFID tag reader on the top of a casino game.

In a further alternate embodiment depicted as method 1300 in FIG. 13, the method of FIG. 12 further includes maintaining data in an information system from received information derived from the RFID readers in the gaming establishment, as depicted in block 1308. This method 1300 further includes recording information concerning the movement and activities of an individual as depicted by block 1310, as determined from reading individual RFID tag by the reader components. Method 1300 further includes, as depicted by block 1312, altering the play of one or more casino games in response to the detection of a particular individual at a game.

In yet another alternate embodiment of method 1000 illustrated as method 1400 in FIG. 14, block 1402 depicts providing the reader component as an antenna. Block 1404 depicts including a reader unit receiving input from the antenna. In further alternate embodiment of method 1400, the reader unit is located inside the casino game, or outside of the casino game.

In another alternate embodiment of method 1400, FIG. 15 shows method 1500, which includes receiving input by the reader unit from a plurality of antennas located in two or more different casino games as depicted by block 1508.

In an alternate embodiment 1600 illustrated in FIG. 16, the method 1000 further includes providing RFID tags for the casino games, as depicted by item 1602. As also illustrated as another further alternate embodiment, the method further includes, as indicated by item 1604, maintaining a record of what games are next to or near to each other from information derived from tag devices associated with or in or on the casino games, as depicted by item 1606 on the flow chart. The method further may provide for allowing games in proximity to act in concert such as offer complimentary game play or coordinated game play options, as depicted by item 1608 on the flow chart.

There is described above a number of embodiments of inventive subject matter wherein RFID tags are used to locate or establish a position of an individual or a casino game.

Referring now to FIGS. 17A, 17B and 17C, there is illustrated yet another example embodiment 1700 of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein. A plurality of betting articles 1710 are provided, and, for example, take the form of chips used to place bets at a table game 1740 in a gaming establishment, such as but not limited to poker, blackjack, craps or roulette. Each betting article 1710 includes a RFID tag 1720 (shown for example with respect to article 1710′ in an enlarged, cut-away view). The tags 1720 each include one or more items of data capable of uniquely identifying the articles 1710, data indicative of the value of the article 1710, or other data. One or more reading devices 1730 used to read an RFID tag are positioned at one or more table games 1740, wherein the reading device 1730 can read at least one of the identification tags 1720 associated with the betting articles. One or more reading devices 1750 are also positioned at a gaming machine 1760 such as a video poker game or slot machine, wherein the reading devices 1750 can read at least one of the identification tags 1720 associated with the articles.

Reading devices 1730 may be positioned, for example, underneath the gaming table surface 1742 of table game 1740 near an area that a player may place a bet using the betting articles, to enable the devices 1730 to detect the presence of the betting articles, and, for example, the identification and value of the article by reading the data stored therein. Reading devices 1730 may also be positioned in other areas of the table game 1740, for example to read the RFID tags in betting articles collected by the dealer into or paid by the dealer out of a chip tray, sometimes also referred to as a chip rack or bank. Reading devices 1750 may be positioned, for example, near an acceptor 1764 of the gaming machine 1760, to enable the devices 1750 to detect the presence of the betting articles 1710 placed in the acceptor 1764, and, for example, the identification and value of the article by reading the data stored therein. Reading devices 1750 may also be positioned in other areas of the gaming machine 1760, for example to read the RFID tags in betting articles in a hopper 1766, from which they can be dispensed, or alternatively to a drop box (not shown) to be collected. Reading devices 1750 may also be positioned to read RFID tags of betting articles that may be dispensed by the gaming machine 1760. Accordingly, gaming machine 1760 is adapted to receive betting articles 1710 and to dispense them in the same manner as coins or tokens or other betting articles used in the gaming machine wherein the articles are placed in an acceptor and counted to create credits on the machine, for example.

According to still another example embodiment, the method and apparatus may provide for shielding the RFID reading devices (for example 1730 or 1750) to ensure that the only RFID signals it detects are those coming from the betting article path (for example 1767 in FIG. 17C). In another embodiment, there may be provided a mechanism to determine direction of travel through the betting article path to avoid cheats similar to stringing coins. This could also help provide information to the gaming machine operating system for use in determining whether or not to add credit to the credit meter when it reads a betting article in its RFID reader.

In either the case of the reading devices 1730 or 1750, the reading devices may be connected to a local computing platform 1735 or 1755 located at or near the table game 1740 or gaming machine 1760, such that the local computing platforms can receive information from the RFID tags and perform any desired functions, such as to provide counts or indications to dealers or players or other personnel. One or more further computing systems 1770 may also be provided, and are adapted to receive data pertaining to the betting articles 1710, wherein the data pertaining to the articles is at least in part determined using the one or more items of data associated with an identification tag. Systems 1770 may be located distant from the table games or gaming machines, for example in a computer center in a casino or other gaming establishment, or in any other location. In one embodiment, the local computing platforms are connected, for example through wired or wireless network, to the computing systems 1770 and pass information about betting articles 1710 to the computing systems 1770.

Thus, according these embodiments, the same betting articles, typically casino chips, may be used both to play a table game and also to play a gaming machine. This dual use of the betting articles such as chips thus provides a player with convenience, and also increases the chances that a player of one type of game may stop and play the other type of game, thus enhancing the player's range of experience and potentially keeping the player in the gaming establishment longer than otherwise may be the case. In addition, the ability to read an identification from the betting articles may assist in cheating or fraud reduction, as betting articles may tracked and only accepted or credited if properly registered, as may be implemented using software on, for example, system 1770, to register and track the betting articles. Other information about the use of the betting articles may also be determined where their use is tracked by system 1770 or by other means.

According to still another embodiment, the plurality of betting articles 1710 are located on the premise of a first gaming establishment, and in another embodiment, they are located on at least two different gaming establishments. Thus, accordingly, the same betting articles may be used at multiple different gaming establishments, which may or may not be owned entirely by or substantially by the same entities. In addition, accordingly, the computing system 1770 may be adapted to track betting articles across multiple establishments. For instance, all betting articles 1710 may be registered and tracked using a common computing platform or data repository whether or not the articles are issued or honored by the same or different gaming establishments under the same or different control.

According to another example embodiment 1800 of the inventive subject matter there is provided a method wherein one or more betting articles, for example chips, are distributed 1810 to a player for use in a casino, wherein the one or more chips have a monetary value, and wherein each of the one or more chips include a radio frequency identification tag device associated therewith. The one or more of the chips are accepted 1820 from a player at a table game wherein chips are used to place bets, and information is read 1830 about the one or more chips from the tag device while the one or more chips are located at the table game. Further, the one or more chips may also be accepted 1840 in a gaming machine, wherein the gaming machine reads 1850 information about the one or more chips from the associated tag devices, and the gaming machine credits 1860 the player with an amount determined at least in part using the information read from the tag device.

According to one example embodiment, the betting articles may have a monetary value. In an alternative embodiment, however, the gaming articles may have no monetary value, for example promotional gaming chips. Such betting articles may not be redeemable for currency but would be valid for placing wagers at a table game or at a gaming machine. In another embodiment, there may be three types of credit tracked on a gaming machine: cashable credits redeemable for currency (usually comes from money inserted by the player or from winnings achieved by the player), non-restricted promotional credits redeemable for currency (credits given to the player by the casino typically as part of a marketing program), and restricted promotional credits not redeemable for currency (credits given to the player by the casino or gaming establishment that must be wagered). Both non-restricted and restricted credits can only be inserted into the gaming machine at this time either via a ticket/coupon accepted via the bill acceptor and validated with a cashless wagering system or via an electronic download from a player account established with the gaming establishment and transmitted to the gaming machine via a cashless wagering system.

According to one example embodiment, there may also be accepted betting articles at a game with the associated RFID tag containing information related to which type of credit that betting article represents, thus providing the gaming establishments with another method of inserting promotional credit into a gaming machine. Also, like tickets and player account transfers, one embodiment may require that the promotional credit only be accepted if a player card is present at the gaming machine/table (allowing the system to monitor which players are responsive to different promotions) or if a specific player card is inserted at the gaming machine/table (allowing promotions to only be redeemed by a specific patron).

According to another example embodiment, there is provided a bonusing method and system. In one example, a bonusing system/method might award a “lucky betting article (e.g. chip)” bonus. To do so, for example, a random number is generated that identifies one or more of the betting articles by a unique identifier, such as a serial number. The system may run the bonus across the entire establishment, or use a subset of the entire floor as a group of gaming machines participating in the lucky betting article game. The system may then monitor the betting article acceptors for all games participating in the bonus pool. And when the randomly selected betting article is wagered, the gaming machine where the wager was placed may be awarded a bonus paid to the player at the gaming machine. In one example embodiment, these may be progressive bonus awards that would increase over time. According to one example embodiment, the system/method may randomly select a betting article identifier (e.g. serial number stored in the RFID tag) from the total set of betting articles in the gaming establishment system, which may be segregated by denomination, promotional betting articles, or other means.

According to one example embodiment, the lucky betting article may be implemented at table games such that, for example, the table game may provide the dealer with some form of notification that it detects the ‘lucky betting article’ at a particular betting spot and the amount of the bonus to be paid. The notification may take the form of a message displayed on a video screen at the gaming table, the betting spot could light up, or there could be an audible indication, either alone or in combination with each other. The dealer may then pay the bonus in betting articles in addition to any wins the player may have achieved with that bet.

According to other example embodiments of the methods of the inventive subject matter, at least one chip is accepted from a player at a table game wherein the chip is used to place a bet and wherein the chip include a radio frequency identification tag device associated therewith. Information is read from the chip from the tag device while the chip is located at the table game. At a later time, the at least one chip is accepted in a gaming machine, wherein the gaming machine reads information about the at least one chip from the associated tag device, and the gaming machine credits the player with an amount determined at least in part using the information read from the tag device.

According to another example embodiment, at least one chip is accepted from a first player at a table game wherein the chip is used to place a bet and wherein the chip include a radio frequency identification tag device associated therewith. Information about the chip is read from the tag device while the chip is located at the table game. At a later time the at least one chip is provided to a second, different player, and the second different player uses the at least one chip in a gaming machine. The gaming machine reads information about the at least one chip from the associated tag device, and the gaming machine credits the player with an amount determined at least in part using the information read from the tag device.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/29
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3251, G07F17/32, A63F2009/2429, G07F17/3237, G07F17/322, G07F17/3239
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32E6D2, G07F17/32K6, G07F17/32E6D, G07F17/32C4D