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Publication numberUS20060287057 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/442,592
Publication dateDec 21, 2006
Filing dateMay 30, 2006
Priority dateMay 30, 2005
Publication number11442592, 442592, US 2006/0287057 A1, US 2006/287057 A1, US 20060287057 A1, US 20060287057A1, US 2006287057 A1, US 2006287057A1, US-A1-20060287057, US-A1-2006287057, US2006/0287057A1, US2006/287057A1, US20060287057 A1, US20060287057A1, US2006287057 A1, US2006287057A1
InventorsAkira Osawa
Original AssigneeAruze Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming system and gaming machine
US 20060287057 A1
Abstract
In a gaming system which includes a slot machine and a management device which is communicably connected to the slot machine, the slot machine includes: an appeared ball presentation unit which presents at least one bingo ball, and invites the player to input a selection in connection with this bingo ball; a selection result notification unit which reports a selection result message to the management device according to the selection input by the player; and a bingo game result processing unit which acquires an award, based on the bingo hit message from the management device. And the management device receives the selection result message from the slot machine, determines a win or a loss in the game based thereon, and reports a bingo hit message to the slot machine.
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Claims(14)
1. A gaming system comprising a gaming machine and a management device which is communicably connected to the gaming machine, wherein the gaming machine comprises:
at least one selection element; and
a processor which enables a player to pick the selection element, notifies a picked result to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the game from the management device;
wherein the management device receives the picked result from the gaming machine, determines a win or a loss in the game based on the picked result, and notifies the game result to the gaming machine.
2. The gaming system according to claim 1, wherein, on receipt of the picked result from the gaming machine, the management device notifies the gaming machine of the progression state of the game; and the gaming machine displays the progression state of the game which is notified thereto.
3. A gaming system comprising a gaming machine which supplies a first game to a player, and a management device which is communicably connected to the gaming machine, and the gaming system supplies a second game to the player, wherein the gaming machine comprises:
at least one selection element; and
a processor which determines whether or not the selection element appears based on the first game, enables a player to pick the selection element if the selection element appears, notifies a picked result to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the second game which is notified from the management device;
wherein the management device receives the picked result from the gaming machine, determines a win or a loss in the second game based on the picked result, and notifies the gaming machine of the result of the second game.
4. The gaming system according to claim 3, wherein the gaming machine variably displays a plurality of symbols, and the selection element appears when a predetermined symbol is displayed.
5. The gaming system according to claim 3, wherein the gaming machine further comprises a display which, along with displaying the selection element as a display image, displays a message inviting the player to input the selection.
6. The gaming system according to claim 3, wherein the management device receives the picked result from the gaming machine, and notifies the gaming machine of the progression state of the second game, according to the picked result, and the gaming machine displays the progression state of the second game which is notified.
7. The gaming system according to claim 3, wherein the second game is a bingo game.
8. A gaming machine for a gaming system which comprises a management device, wherein the gaming machine is communicably connected to the management device, comprising:
at least one selection element; and
a processor which enables a player to pick the selection element, notifies a picked result to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the game from the management device.
9. The gaming machine according to claim 8, further comprising a display which displays the progression state of the game, as notified by the management device according to the picked result.
10. A gaming machine employed in a gaming system which comprises a gaming machine which supplies a first game to a player, and a management device which is communicably connected to the gaming machine, and the gaming system supplies a second game to the player, comprising:
at least one selection element; and
a processor which determines whether or not the selection element appears based on the first game, enables a player to pick the selection element if the selection element appears, notifies a picked result to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the second game which is notified from the management device.
11. The gaming machine according to claim 10, wherein the gaming machine variably displays a plurality of symbols, and the selection element appears when a predetermined symbol is displayed.
12. The gaming machine according to claim 10, further comprises a display which, along with displaying the selection element as a display image, displays a message inviting the player to input the selection.
13. The gaming machine according to claim 10, further comprises a display which displays the progression state of the second game, as notified by the management device according to the picked result.
14. The gaming machine according to claim 10, wherein the second game is a bingo game.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the priority of Japanese Patent Application No. 2005-156809, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a gaming system and to a gaming machine.

2. Description of the Prior Art

In recent years, along with the flow of diversification of games, it has been proposed to build a system in which a plurality of players can participate (a so-called “linked type gaming system”) by providing a host computer (a management device) which is separate from a plurality of gaming machines, and by the host computer performing communication with these gaming machines. As a broad division, in the prior art there have been two types of such linked type gaming system. One of these is a linked type gaming system in which win or loss for a player is determined according to a result which has been produced by the host computer (for example, by a lottery or the like), so that it is a linked type gaming system in which the host computer takes the initiative; while the other is a so-called progressive linked type gaming system, in which the player is able to gain a benefit (for example points or a number of coins which are saved up in the host computer) according to a result which has been produced by the gaming machine.

With these linked type gaming systems, generally, subjective elements on the part of the player such as his intentions, his selection, his strategies, his tactics, and so on have not been reflected in the game. Due to this, it has been necessary to satisfy the player only with the passive enjoyment of the game, in which he is simply notified of lottery results produced by the host computer or by the gaming machine.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The objective of the present invention is to provide a linked type gaming system with which active participation in the game on the part of a player is made possible; and, in more detail, the objective of the present invention is to provide a new gaming system and a new gaming machine which are endowed with interactivity, in which games according to prior art linked type gaming systems (in which simply reels spin and are subsequently viewed) are abandoned, and instead the player's active intentions, strategy, tactics, and attacking methods are received, and his win or loss in the game is determined according thereto.

As means for solving the above described problem, the present invention has the following characteristics. As an embodiment of the present invention, there is proposed a gaming system which comprises a gaming machine and a management device which is communicably connected to the gaming machine.

With this system, the gaming machine includes: at least one selection element (for example, a bingo ball); and a processor (for example, a microcomputer) which enables a player to pick the selection element, notifies a picked result (for example, a selection result message) to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the game from the management device; wherein the management device receives the picked result (for example, a selection result message) from the gaming machine, determines a win or a loss in the game based on the picked result, and notifies the game result (for example, a bingo hit message) to the gaming machine.

According to this gaming system, it becomes possible for the player to participate in an active game by selecting the selection element, so that it is possible to supply a more attractive linked type game.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is proposed a gaming system, wherein, on receipt of the picked result from the gaming machine, the management device notifies the gaming machine of the progression state of the game; and the gaming machine displays the progression state of the game which is notified thereto.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is proposed a gaming system including a gaming machine which supplies a first game (for example, a basic game or a slot game) to a player, and a management device which is communicably connected to the gaming machine, and the gaming system supplies a second game (for example, a linked type game or a bingo game) to the player.

With this gaming system, the gaming machine includes: at least one selection element (for example, a bingo ball); and a processor (for example, a microcomputer) which determines whether or not the selection element appears based on the first game, enables a player to pick the selection element if the selection element appears, notifies a picked result (for example, a selection result message) to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the second game (for example, a bingo hit message) which is notified from the management device; wherein the management device receives the picked result (for example, a selection result message) from the gaming machine, determines a win or a loss in the second game based on this picked result, and notifies the gaming machine of the result (for example, a bingo hit message) of the second game.

According to this gaming machine, it becomes possible for the player to participate in an active game by selecting the selection element, so that it is possible to supply a more attractive linked type game; and, moreover, since it is possible for the player to perform the second game in a state of closely connected with the execution of the first game, accordingly it becomes possible to attract the interest of the player more strongly, and to enhance his playing inclination.

It would also be acceptable to arrange for the above described gaming machine to be a gaming machine which variably displays a plurality of symbols, and the selection element appears when a predetermined symbol is displayed. Since, with this gaming system, the first game and the second game are even more closely related, it becomes possible to attract the playing inclination of the player yet more strongly.

Further, it would also be acceptable to arrange for the gaming system so as to be that the gaming machine further comprises a display which, along with displaying the selection element as a display image, displays a message inviting the player to input the selection.

In addition, in the gaming system of the present invention, the management device receives the picked result from the gaming machine, and notifies the gaming machine of the progression state of the second game, according to the picked result, and the gaming machine displays the progression state of the second game which is notified.

Further, in the gaming system of the present invention, the second game is a bingo game.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is proposed a gaming machine for a gaming system which includes a management device, and the gaming machine which is communicably connected to this management device.

This gaming machine includes: at least one selection element (for example, a bingo ball); and a processor (for example, a microcomputer) which enables a player to pick the selection element, notifies a picked result (for example, a selection result message) to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the game from the management device.

According to this gaming machine, it becomes possible for the player to participate in an active game by selecting the selection element, so that it is possible to supply a more attractive linked type game.

Further, the gaming machine of the present invention comprises a display which displays the progression state of the game, as notified by the management device according to the picked result.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is proposed a gaming machine which is used in a gaming system which includes a gaming machine which supplies a first game (for example, a basic game or a slot game) to a player, and a management device which is communicably connected to the gaming machine, and gaming system supplies a second game (for example, a linked type game or a bingo game) to the player.

This gaming machine includes: at least one selection element (for example, a bingo ball); and a processor (for example, a microcomputer) which determines whether or not the selection element appears based on the first game, enables a player to pick the selection element if the selection element appears, notifies a picked result (for example, a selection result message) to the management device according to the picked selection element by the player, and provides an award based on a result of the second game (for example, a bingo hit message) which is notified from the management device.

According to this gaming machine, it becomes possible for the player to participate in an active game by selecting the selection element, so that it is possible to supply a more attractive linked type game; and, moreover, since it is possible for the player to perform the second game in a state of closely connected with the execution of the first game, accordingly it becomes possible to attract the interest of the player more strongly, and to enhance his playing inclination.

With the above described gaming machine, it would also be acceptable to construct this gaming machine to be a gaming machine which variably displays a plurality of symbols, and the selection element appears when a predetermined symbol is displayed. And, with this gaming machine, since the first game and the second game are even more closely related, accordingly it becomes possible to attract the playing inclination of the player yet more strongly. It should be understood that the gaming machine further comprises a display which, along with displaying the selection element as a display image, displays a message inviting the player to input the selection.

Further, the gaming machine of the present invention comprises a display which displays the progression state of the second game, as notified by the management device according to the picked result.

In addition, in the gaming machine of the present invention, the second game is a bingo game.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an example of the structure of a linked type gaming system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an external perspective view showing an example of a slot machine;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram schematically showing the control system of this slot machine;

FIG. 4 is a functional block diagram of a micro computer incorporated in this slot machine;

FIG. 5 is a figure showing an example of the data structure of bingo ball permutation data;

FIG. 6A is a figure showing an example of the data structure of a selection result message, and FIG. 6B is a figure showing an example of the data structure of a bingo hit message;

FIG. 7 is a functional block diagram showing an example of a management device;

FIG. 8A is a figure showing an example of bingo card data, and FIG. 8B is a figure showing an example of the data structure of progression state data;

FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing an example of operation of a management device;

FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing the main processing of this slot machine;

FIG. 11 is a flow chart showing an example of linked type game execution processing;

FIG. 12 is a sequence figure showing an example of operation of this gaming system;

FIG. 13 is a sequence figure continuing on from FIG. 12;

FIG. 14A is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by this slot machine, and FIG. 14B is a figure showing an example of a screen which continues on from FIG. 14A;

FIG. 15A is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by this slot machine, and which is a screen continuing on from FIG. 14A, and FIG. 15B is a figure showing an example of a screen continuing on from the screen of FIG. 15A;

FIG. 16A is a figure showing an example of another screen which is displayed by this slot machine, and FIG. 16B is a figure showing an example of a screen continuing on from the screen of FIG. 16A;

FIG. 17A is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by this slot machine, and which is a screen continuing on from FIG. 16A, and FIG. 17B is a figure showing an example of a screen continuing on from the screen of FIG. 17A;

FIG. 18A is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by the management device, and FIG. 18B is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 18A;

FIG. 19A is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by the management device after the screen of FIG. 18B, and FIG. 19B is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 19A;

FIG. 20A is a figure showing an example of another screen which is displayed by the management device, and FIG. 20B is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 20A;

FIG. 21A is a figure showing an example of yet another screen which is displayed by the management device, and FIG. 21B is a figure showing an example of still yet another screen which is displayed by the management device;

FIG. 22A is a figure showing an example of another screen which is displayed by the management device, FIG. 22B is a figure showing an example of still another screen which is displayed by the management device, and FIG. 22C is a figure showing an example of yet another screen which is displayed by the management device;

FIG. 23A is a figure showing an example of another screen which is displayed by the management device, and FIG. 23B is a figure showing an example of even yet another screen which is displayed by the management device;

FIG. 24A is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by the slot machine, and FIG. 24B is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by the slot machine, and which continues on from the screen of FIG. 24A; and

FIG. 25A is a figure showing an example of another screen which is displayed by the slot machine continuing on from the screen of FIG. 24A, and FIG. 25B is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed by the slot machine, and which continues on from the screen of FIG. 25A.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described in detail with reference to the appended drawings.

1: The First Embodiment

1.1. A Summary of the Gaming System

First a summary of the gaming system according to this first embodiment will be explained. This gaming system comprises a plurality of gaming machines on which players may perform play. On each of these gaming machines, a basic game, like a slot machine game, which corresponds to a first game (including a bonus game and a feature game which may be generated during a basic game), may played by a player by making payment of a game value. By “game value” is meant a fee which the player pays as consideration for performing a basic game on the gaming machine, and it may be a value which cannot be converted into cash. Generally, the game value is provided to the player or is paid to the player in the form of a game medium such as medals, tokens, coins or the like.

These gaming machines also execute another game which is different from the above described basic game (in order to distinguish it from the basic game, this will be termed a “linked type game”). Such a “linked type game” is a game in which players mutually compete with one another on various different gaming machines to achieve a game winning condition, and a player who reaches the game winning condition receives payment of a game value from a management device, as an award or a remuneration for winning the linked type game. It should be understood that such a linked type game corresponds to the second game in this description of the present invention.

The linked type game of this embodiment is a bingo game in which several players participate (a game in which they take at will balls (termed a “bingo ball”) or cards one by one with a numbers affixed thereto, they check if these numbers and the numbers in cells which are drawn on a card (termed a “bingo card”) in which numbers are placed, agree with one another, and they compete to link up cells along a vertical column, a horizontal row, or a diagonal).

Each time the management device executes this linked type game, it prepares one bingo card. On a predetermined condition being satisfied, each of the gaming machines causes one or a plurality of bingo balls to appear on a display or the like of that gaming machine. And the player on that machine is able to determine which bingo balls are to be selected so that the corresponding numbers on the bingo card are hit and cleared, and in what order these bingo balls will be selected. As a result, the player becomes able to reflect his own intentions and strategy in the type of order in which he hits and clears the numbers on the bingo card.

When the player performs a selection with regard to a bingo ball which has appeared, the gaming machine notifies the result of selection by the player to the management device, and the management device performs hit-and-clear of the number on the bingo card according to this selection (picked) result which is notified.

The management device determines that a player who has hit bingo (i.e. who has hit and cleared the number in the final cell among cells which are connected horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) has won, and pays an award or remuneration. The above is a summary of the gaming system of this embodiment.

1.2. An Example of the Structure of the Gaming System

Next, an example of the structure of the linked type gaming system according to this embodiment will be explained with reference to FIG. 1. FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an example of the structure of this linked type gaming system.

The gaming system 100 comprises one or a plurality of gaming machines 101, and a management device 102 which is communicably connected to the gaming machines 101. Each of the gaming machines 101 is connected to the management device 102 via a communication network 103.

1.2.1. The Gaming Machine

The gaming machine 101, which is a structural element of the linked type gaming system of this embodiment, will now be explained. It should be understood that although, in this embodiment, a slot machine is employed as the gaming machine 101, this does not mean that the gaming machine 101 is limited to being a slot machine; provided that it is a gaming machine 101 which performs a basic game, any type of gaming machine will be acceptable—for example, a pachinko game machine or a video game machine or the like may also be used as the gaming machine 101 of this embodiment.

In the following, a slot machine which is the gaming machine 101 will be explained. FIG. 2 is an external perspective view showing an example of such a slot machine. In FIG. 2, the slot machine 1 comprises a cabinet 2 which defines its external form, and an upper liquid crystal display 3 is provided at a front upper portion of this cabinet 2, while a lower liquid crystal display 4 is provided at a front central portion of the cabinet 2. Here, the upper liquid crystal display 3 is constituted by a general type liquid crystal display, while the lower liquid crystal display 4 is constituted by a so-called transparent liquid crystal display. Furthermore, the lower liquid crystal display 4 displays an image of a bingo hall as will be described hereinafter, and is endowed with a function of performing presentation of a selection element.

The lower liquid crystal display 4 has windows 23, 24, and 25, and, via these windows 23, 24, and 25, the player can visually confirm symbols which are placed on the outer circumferences of reels 46 as will be described hereinafter.

An operation table 5 is provided at the lower side of the lower liquid crystal display 4 and projects forward therefrom, and on this operation table 5, from its leftmost side, there are disposed a call button 6, a payout button 7, and a help (HELP) button 8. Furthermore, on the right side of the help button 8, there are disposed a coin insertion unit 9 and a bill insertion unit 10. Moreover, from the left side of the operation table 5, along its forward edge, there are arranged a 1-BET button 11, a SPIN/REPEAT BET button 12, a 3-BET button 13, and a 5-BET button 14.

Here, the call button 6 is a button which is pressed for calling a shop attendant when a bill is to be changed or the like. The payout button 7 is a button which is pressed when a basic game is finished, and, when this payout button 7 is pressed, the coins which have been won in the game are paid back from a coin payout opening 15 to a coin tray 16. It should be understood that a payout switch 41 which will be described hereinafter is attached to the payout button 7, and, based on the pressing of the payout button 7, a switch signal is output to a CPU 30.

The help button 8 is a button which is pressed when the method of operating the game or the like is unclear to the player, and, when this help button 8 is pressed, various types of help information are displayed on the upper liquid crystal display 3 or on the lower liquid crystal display 4. A help (HELP) switch 42 which will be described hereinafter is attached to this help button 8, and, based on the pressing of the help button 8, a switch signal is output from this help switch 42 to the CPU 30.

A coin sensor 43 which will be described hereinafter is provided to the coin insertion unit 9, and, when a coin is inserted into the coin insertion unit 9, a coin detection signal is output to the CPU 30 from this coin sensor 43. Furthermore, a bill sensor 44 is provided to the bill insertion unit 10, and, when a bill is inserted into the bill insertion unit 10, a bill detection signal is output to the CPU 30 from this bill sensor 44.

The 1-BET button 11 is a button which bets 1 each time it is pressed once. A 1-BET switch 38 which will be described hereinafter is attached to this 1-BET button 11, and, when the 1-BET button 11 is pressed, a switch signal is output to the CPU 30 from this 1-BET switch 38, based on this press.

The spin (SPIN/REPEAT BET) button 12 is a button which, by being pressed, starts the rotation of the reels which will be described hereinafter, so as to start a game with the current bet number or the previous bet number. A spin switch 37 which will be described hereinafter is attached to this spin button 12, and, when the spin button 12 is pressed, a switch signal is output from the spin switch 37 to the CPU 30 based on this press. It should be understood that bets of 1 to 5 are available as bet numbers which can be wagered by pressing the spin button 12.

The 3-BET button 13 is a button for, based on pressing this 3-BET button 13, starting a game with a bet of 3. A 3-BET switch 39 which will be described hereinafter is attached to this 3-BET button 13, and, when the 3-BET button 13 is pressed, a switch signal is output to the CPU 30 from this 3-BET switch 39. Furthermore, the 5-BET button 14 is a button for, based on pressing this 5-BET button 14, starting a game with a bet of 5, and for being pressed when starting a bonus game which will be described hereinafter. A 5-BET switch 40 which will be described hereinafter is attached to this 5-BET button 14, and, when the 5-BET button 14 is pressed, a switch signal is output to the CPU 30 from this 5-BET switch 40.

Furthermore, along with a coin payout opening 15 being formed at the lower portion of the cabinet 2, there is also provided a coin tray 16 which receives coins which are paid out from the coin payout opening 15. A coin detection unit 52 which consists of a sensor or the like is provided in the interior of the coin payout opening 15, and this coin detection unit 52 detects the number of coins that are paid out from the coin payout opening 15.

Next, structures related to the control system of this slot machine 1 will be explained with reference to FIG. 3. FIG. 3 is a block diagram schematically showing the control system of this slot machine 1. The control system of the slot machine 1 shown in FIG. 3 basically comprises a microcomputer 61 which centers around a CPU 30, and a ROM 31 and a RAM 32 are connected to this CPU 30. The ROM 31 stores a game control program which will be described hereinafter, various types of effect programs for performing various types of effects on the upper liquid crystal display 3 and the lower liquid crystal display 4 along with the progression of the game, a lottery table for performing various types of lotteries, various other types of program which are necessary for control of the slot machine 1, and data tables and the like. Furthermore, the RAM 32 is a memory in which various types of data which have been calculated by the CPU 30 are temporarily stored.

Moreover, a clock pulse generation circuit 33 which generates standard clock pulses and a divider (frequency divider) 34 are connected to the CPU 30, and, also, a random number generator 35 which generates random numbers and a sampling circuit 36 are connected thereto. The random numbers which are sampled via the sampling circuit 36 are used for various types of lotteries, such as winning combinations, effects, and the like. Furthermore, the spin switch 37 which is attached to the spin (SPIN/REPEAT BET) button 12, the 1-BET switch 38 which is attached to the 1-BET button 11, the 3-BET switch 39 which is attached to the 3-BET switch 13, the 5-BET switch 40 which is attached to the 5-BET switch 14, the payout switch 41 which is attached to the payout button 7, and the help (HELP) switch 42 which is attached to the help button 8 are all connected to the CPU 30. On depression of these buttons, the CPU 30 performs control for various types of operation which are to be executed corresponding to these buttons, based on the switch signals which are output from the corresponding switches.

Yet further, the coin sensor 43 which is provided to the coin insertion unit 9 and the bill sensor 44 which is provided to the bill insertion unit 10 are both connected to the CPU 30. The coin sensor 43 detects that a coin has been inserted from the coin insertion unit 9, and the CPU 30 calculates the number of coins which have been inserted based on the detection signal which are output from the coin sensor 43. Similarly, the bill sensor 44 detects the type and the value of a bill which has been inserted from the bill insertion unit 10, and the CPU 30 calculates the equivalent number of coins to the value of this bill, based on the bill detection signal which is output from the bill sensor 44.

A plurality of stepping motors 47 (in this example, 3) which cause the reels 46 to rotate are connected to the CPU 30 via a motor drive circuit 45. When motor drive signals (command pulses) are output to the motor drive circuit 45 from the CPU 30, each of the stepping motors 47 is rotationally driven by an electromagnetic signal which is output from the motor drive circuit 45. The CPU 30 counts the number of drive pulses which have been supplied to each of the stepping motors 47, and thereby the CPU 30 ascertains the rotational positions of the symbols on each of the reels 46 based on the number of pulses which it has counted, and performs stop position control and the like thereof.

A position change detection circuit 48 is connected to the CPU 30. This position change detection circuit 48 detects changes of the stopped positions of the reels 46 after stopping control has been performed by the above described motor drive circuit 45. For example, this position change detection circuit 48 may detect a change of the stop positions of the reels 46 due to their stop positions having been forcibly changed by the player so as, irrespective of whether actually it is not a combination of stop symbols which constitutes a winning mode, to become a combination of stop symbols which constitutes a winning mode or the like. This position change detection circuit 48 may, for example, be made so as to be able to detect changes of the stop positions of the reels 46 by detecting fins which are attached at predetermined intervals to portions on the inside of the reels 46.

A hopper 50 is connected to the CPU 30 via a hopper drive circuit 49. When a drive signal is output from the CPU 30 to this hopper drive circuit 49, the hopper 50 pays out a predetermined number of coins from the coin payout opening 15.

Furthermore, a coin detection unit 52 is connected to the CPU 30 via a payout completion signal circuit 51. This coin detection unit 52 is located in the interior of the coin payout opening 15, and, when it has detected that a predetermined number of coins have been paid out from the coin payout opening 15, a coin payout detection signal is output to the payout completion signal circuit 51 from the coin detection unit 52, and, based thereon, the payout completion signal circuit 51 outputs a payout completion signal to the CPU 30.

Furthermore, the upper and lower liquid crystal displays 3 and 4 are connected to the CPU 30 via a liquid crystal drive circuit 53. A graphic board or the like may be used for this liquid crystal drive circuit 53. Furthermore, it would also be acceptable to control the upper liquid crystal display 3 and the lower liquid crystal display 4 with separate liquid crystal drive circuits. Moreover, a touch panel 55 is connected to the CPU 30 via a touch panel drive circuit 54.

Yet further, LEDs 57 are connected to the CPU 30 via an LED drive circuit 56. A large number of these LEDs 57 are arranged on the front surface of the slot machine 1, and they are lights which are controlled to be ON or OFF by the LED drive circuit 56 when various types of effect are being performed, based on a drive signal from the CPU 30. Furthermore, a sound output circuit 58 and a speaker 59 are connected to the CPU 30, and this speaker 59 is a device for generating various types of sound effects, based on the output signal of the sound output circuit 58, when various types of effect are being performed. It should be understood that a communication interface (I/F) 60, which is a communication port for performing communication between the management device 102 and the slot machines, is attached to the CPU 30.

The main functions of this slot machine 1 are principally implemented by a micro computer 61 of the slot machine 1 performing processing. The functioning of this micro computer 61 will now be explained in the following description.

FIG. 4 is a functional block diagram of the microcomputer 61 of the slot machine 1. This micro computer 61 comprises a basic game execution unit 401, a credit value storage unit 402, a bingo ball appearance condition determination unit 403 which corresponds to the appearance condition determination means of the present invention, a bingo ball permutation generation unit 404, a bingo ball permutation storage unit 405, an appeared ball presentation unit 406 which corresponds to the presentation means of the invention, a selection result notification unit 407 which corresponds to the notification means of the present invention, and a bingo game result processing unit 408 which corresponds to the award processing means of the invention. It should be understood that each of these units 401 through 408 corresponds to a portion of the program which is executed by the microcomputer 61—for example, a subroutine, a function, a procedure or the like—and hardware which corresponds to these various units does not exist.

The basic game execution unit 401 is endowed with the function of performing a basic game; in concrete terms, it performs execution of lotteries according to bets by the player, rotation control of the reels 46 according to the results of the lotteries, determination of a winning combination according to the symbols of the reels which have stopped, payment of an award if a win has occurred, and so on.

The credit value storage unit 402 is endowed with a function of storing, as credit values, a numerical value which corresponds to a game value which the player has inserted into the slot machine 1, a numerical value which corresponds to a game value which he has gained during a basic game, and the like. When the player desires a payout of coins or the like, a value which corresponds to the amount to be paid out is subtracted from the value which is stored in the credit value storage unit 402, and a number of coins corresponding to this value which has been subtracted are discharged by the hopper drive circuit 49 and the hopper 50.

The bingo ball appearance condition determination unit 403 is endowed with a function of determining whether or not a condition for causing a bingo ball which corresponds to the selection element of the present invention to appear has been hit. This condition for causing the appearance of a bingo ball may be any type of condition, but, by way of example, it is considered that the following types of condition may be employed:

(1) That, during a basic game, some predetermined symbol has stopped in a predetermined position and is displayed;

(2) That, during a basic game, a predetermined winning combination has occurred;

(3) That the number of bets by the player has exceeded a predetermined number;

(4) That a lottery as to whether or not a bingo ball will be caused to appear (which is separate from the lotteries in the basic game) has taken place, and has resulted in a win. It should be understood that the number of bingo balls which appear may be constant, or may vary; either will be acceptable. In this embodiment, the bingo ball appearance determination unit 403 is arranged to determine the number of bingo balls which are caused to appear randomly within a range from one to three.

The bingo ball permutation generation unit 404 is endowed with a function of generating bingo ball permutation data, which is data which determines an order of appearance of (M−N+1) bingo balls, with a number from N to M being affixed to each of them. This bingo ball permutation data, may, for example, be generated by determining the order of appearance of the bingo balls with random numbers. It should be understood that, in this embodiment, it is supposed that N=1 and M=80, so that it is supposed that, at each slot machine 1, 80 bingo balls with numbers from 1 to 80 affixed to them appear according to the bingo ball permutation data which has been generated for that slot machine 1.

Moreover, it should be understood that this bingo ball permutation data is generated each time a new bingo game is started, and, during the same bingo game, the bingo game permutation data which has already been generated continues to be used.

The bingo ball permutation storage unit 405 is endowed with the function of storing the bingo ball permutation data which has been generated by the bingo ball permutation generation unit 404. FIG. 5 is a figure showing an example of the data structure of bingo ball permutation data which is stored in the bingo ball permutation storage unit 405. This bingo ball permutation data 601 contains 80 records 602 from a record 6021 which corresponds to the bingo ball which appears first, to a record 60280 which corresponds to the bingo ball which appears eightieth; and each record 602 comprises a first field 603 in which is stored the order of appearance of this bingo ball, a second field 604 in which is stored the numerical value which is affixed to this bingo ball, and a third field 605 in which is stored a flag which shows whether or not this bingo ball has already appeared. Initially, “0” is stored in this third field 605, and, when the corresponding bingo ball appears, this field 605 is changed to “1”, thus storing the fact that this bingo ball has appeared. In the example shown in FIG. 5, it is recorded that a first bingo ball to which the number “11” is affixed, a second bingo ball to which the number “24” is affixed, and a third bingo ball to which the number “41” is affixed, have already appeared, and that, subsequently, a fourth bingo ball to which the number “50” is affixed, a fifth bingo ball to which the number “65” is affixed, a sixth bingo ball to which the number “12” is affixed, and so on, will appear in that order.

Returning to FIG. 4, the explanation will be continued. When the appeared ball presentation unit 406 receives a notification from the bingo ball appearance condition determination unit 403 of a bingo ball appearance command and of the number of balls which are commanded to appear, it refers to the bingo ball permutation data 601 which is stored by the bingo ball permutation storage unit 405, determines, from the records 602 which are stored in the bingo ball permutation data 601 and for which the bingo balls have not yet appeared, in order from the most recent bingo ball appearance, on a number of the records 602 according to the number of balls which are commanded to appear, acquires the numbers which are stored in their second fields 604, and commands the liquid crystal drive circuit 53 to perform image display in order to cause bingo balls to which these numbers are affixed to appear. And, according to this command, the liquid crystal drive circuit 53 outputs image data to perform this type of image display on the lower liquid crystal display 4.

Along with images of the bingo balls being displayed on the lower liquid crystal display 4 according to this command from the appeared ball presentation unit 406, a message is displayed which invites the player to select a bingo ball which will be the selected element, and then a screen is displayed which waits to receive input from the player. This screen will be termed the “selection input awaiting screen”.

The selection result notification unit 407 is endowed with a function of notifying to the management device 102, as a player selection result, via the communication interface 60, data which has been input by the player according to the selection input awaiting screen, using input means such as the touch panel 55 and/or the various switches 37 through 42 or the like. FIG. 6A is a figure showing an example of the data structure of a selection result message which is transmitted by the selection result notification unit 407 to the management device 102 in order to notify the player selection result. This selection result message 501 comprises a header 501A which shows that this is a selection result message, and a body 501B in which are stored a number 501X which shows the number which is affixed to the bingo ball which has been selected by the player, a gaming machine ID 501Y which is information specifying the slot machine 1 which has transmitted this selection result message, and a time stamp 501Z for determining the before-and-after relationship between this selection result message 501 and other selection result messages 501. And, when the management device 102 receives this selection result message 501, it extracts the number 501X, the gaming machine ID 501Y, and the time stamp 501Z from the body 501B thereof, and performs hit and clear processing on a bingo card as will be described hereinafter.

Returning to FIG. 4, the explanation of the functioning of the slot machine 1 will be continued. The bingo game result processing unit 408 is endowed with a function of, when it receives a message transmitted to the slot machines 1 from the management device 102 when a bingo has been hit, along with generating new bingo ball permutation data with the bingo ball permutation generation unit 404, also, if it is this slot machine 1 on which the bingo hit has taken place, adding to and storing the value of the acquired game value in the credit value storage unit 402. FIG. 6B is a figure showing an example of the data structure of a bingo hit message which is transmitted by the management device 102 to the slot machines 1 in order to notify them of a bingo hit. This bingo hit message 502 which notifies the bingo hit comprises a header 502A which shows that it is a bingo hit message 502, and a body 502B in which are stored an acquired game value 502X which is to be paid along with the bingo hit, and a gaming machine ID 502Y which is information specifying which slot machine 1 is the one which has won this game value. The bingo game result processing unit 408 refers to the gaming machine ID 502Y and determines whether or not it agrees with the gaming machine ID of its own gaming machine, and, if they agree with one another, it determines that this machine has hit bingo, and adds the value of the acquired game value 502 to the value which is stored in the credit value storage unit 402, and receives payment of remuneration.

Furthermore, when the bingo ball permutation generation unit 404 generates new bingo ball permutation data according to a command from the bingo game result processing unit 408, the bingo ball permutation storage unit 405 deletes the bingo ball permutation data 601 which was stored up until this moment, and stores the newly generated bingo ball permutation data 601. By doing this, the preparations for starting a new bingo game are completed.

1.2.2. The Management Device

Next, the management device 102 will be explained. This management device 102 is a device which can communicate with each of the slot machines 1, and is an information processing device which is equipped with a calculation processing device (a CPU), a main memory (a RAM), a read only memory (a ROM), an input and output device (an I/O), a display device (a liquid crystal display, a CRT, or the like), and, according to requirements, an external storage device like a hard disk device or the like. The management device 102 is an information processing device like, for example, a computer, a work station, a server, or the like. And, in the management device 102, a program for causing this information processing device to function as the management device 102 is stored in the ROM or in the hard disk device or the like, and the management device 102 is implemented by loading this program into the main memory and by causing the CPU to execute it. Furthermore, the above described program need not necessarily be stored in a storage device within this information processing device; it would also be acceptable for it to be supplied from an external device (for example an ASP (the server of an application service provider or the like), so that it is thereby loaded into the main memory.

FIG. 7 is a functional block diagram showing an example of the management device 102. As shown in FIG. 7, this management device 102 comprises a communication interface 701, a bingo card data generation unit 702, a progression state data storage unit 703, a selection result message processing unit 704, and a bingo hit determination unit 705.

The communication interface 701, just like the communication interfaces 60 of the slot machines 1, is matched to the communication formats of the management device 102 and the slot machines 1, and performs mutual conversion processing of data and electrical signal, and communication protocol processing.

The bingo card generation unit 702 is endowed with a function of generating, at the start of a bingo game which is to be executed by the slot machines 1 and the management device 102, bingo card data which corresponds to a bingo card. It should be understood that, in this embodiment, all of the slot machines 1 perform bingo games using a common bingo card which is generated by the management device 102.

FIG. 8A shows an example of the bingo card data which is generated by the bingo card data generation unit 702. It should be understood that, in this embodiment, the bingo card is a card on which 25 numerical values, which may be any of the 80 numbers from 1 to 80, are arranged in a 55 matrix, and the bingo card data is information corresponding to this type of bingo card.

The bingo card data 801 shown in FIG. 8A contains 25 records 801A1 through 801A25, which correspond to the 25 cells of a 55 matrix shaped bingo card. Each of these records 801A contains a column number field 801B in which the column number of the cell which corresponds to that record is stored, a row number field 801C in which the row number of the cell which corresponds to that record is stored, a number field 801D in which the number which is affixed to that cell is stored, and an allocated points field 801E in which the value of the points which are allocated to that cell is stored. It should be understood that which number is entered for which record is determined at random when generating the bingo card data 801. Moreover, the value which is stored in the allocated points field 801E may also be determined at random when generating the bingo card data 801; or it would also be acceptable to arrange to use a value which was determined in advance for each number.

The progression state data storage unit 703 is endowed with a function of generating progression state data based on the bingo card data 801 generated by the bingo card data generation unit 702, and of updating and rewriting this progression state data according to selection result messages 501 which it receives from the slot machines 1.

FIG. 8B is a figure showing an example of the data structure of the progression state data which is handled by the progression state data storage unit 703. This progression state data 802, just like the bingo card data 801, contains 25 records 802A1 through 802A25, which correspond to the 25 cells of the 55 matrix shaped bingo card. Each of these records 802A has a column number field 802B in which the column number of the cell which corresponds to this record is stored, a row number field 802C in which the row number of the cell which corresponds to this record is stored, a number field 802D in which the number which is affixed to that cell is stored, an allocated points field 802E in which the value of the allocated points which are allocated to that cell is stored, an open flag field 802F in which is recorded whether or not that cell has been hit and cleared (i.e., whether or not the appearance of a bingo ball which has the same number is notified), a gaming machine ID field 802G in which the gaming machine ID of the slot machine 1 which initially transmitted the selection result message 501 for the bingo ball having that number is stored, and a time stamp field 802H in which the time stamp 501Z of this selection result message 501 is stored. It should be understood that the values which are stored in the fields 802B through 802D are the same values as those which are stored in the fields 801B through 801D of the bingo card data 801.

In the example shown in the figure, “0” is initially written in advance in the open flag fields 802F of all of the records 802A, and this “0” is changed to “1” for the open flag field 802F of a record 802A which corresponds to a cell in which hit and clear processing has been made. Furthermore, “9999” is initially written into the gaming machine ID fields 802G, and, in the gaming machine ID field 802G of a record 802A which corresponds to a cell in which hit and clear processing has been made, there is written and stored the gaming machine ID 502Y in that selection result message 501 which has a time stamp 501Z having the earliest (the oldest) value, among the selection result messages 501 having the same number 502X as the number field 802D of that cell. Furthermore, in the time stamp field 802H, there is written and stored the time stamp 501Z of that selection result message 501 which has a time stamp 501Z having the earliest (the oldest) value, among the selection result messages 501 having the same number 502X as the number field 802D of that cell.

The selection result message processing unit 704 receives selection result messages 501 from each of the slot machines 1, and searches from the progression state data 802 for records 802A in which the same values as the numbers 501X in these selection result messages 501 are stored in their number fields 802D. And, when the selection result message processing unit 704 has discovered a record 802A of this type, it compares together the value of the time stamp of the selection result message 501 and the value which is stored in the time stamp field 802H of that record, and, if the time stamp of the selection result message 501 is the earlier, it performs rewriting of the open flag field 802F, the gaming machine ID field 802G, and the time stamp field 802H of that record, according to the contents of the selection result message 501.

By this function of the selection result message processing unit 704, the progression state data 806 is updated moment by moment according to the selection result messages 501 from the slot machines 1, and it becomes possible for the newest progression state of the bingo game to be always ascertained by the management device 102.

The bingo hit determination unit 705 refers to the progression state data 802 stored in the progression state data storage unit 703, and determines whether or not the bingo has hit or not, in other words, whether or not, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, any five successive cells have been hit and cleared (i.e., whether “1” is written into the open flag fields 802F of all the five corresponding records 802A). If it has been determined that a bingo hit has occurred, then the bingo hit determination unit 705 acquires the allocated points which have been allocated to those five cells from their allocated points fields 802E and calculates an acquired vame value, and generates a bingo hit message 502 in order to notify this acquired game value to the slot machine 1, which it transmits to the slot machines 1. By doing this, the players of the slot machines 1 are informed that bingo has been hit.

1.2.3. The Communication Network

Irrespective of whether the communication network 103 is a cable network, a wireless network, a dedicated circuit, or a switching circuit, when devices which are connected thereto have set up a session with devices which they each take as their objectives, it operates so as to make it possible to send and receive information between them. This communication network 103 may be implemented by combining a plurality of networks via gateways, as in the case of the internet. Furthermore, with regard to such connection, it may be arranged that transmission and reception of information between these devices is possible, when a session has been established, even if they are temporarily connected by a PPP connection or the like, while not being directly connected to the main trunk (the so-called “backbone”). It should be understood that the above described “communication network” may also be considered as including a communication network which does not use a switching circuit, such as one in which dedicated circuits are extended and closed in a fixed manner.

1.3. Examples of Operation

1.3.1. An Example of the Operation of the Management Device

Next, an example of the operation of the management device 102 having the above described type of structure will be explained with reference to FIG. 9. FIG. 9 is a flow chart showing this example of the operation of the management device 102.

The management device 102 is started by its power source being turned on, and first performs initialization processing such as initializing its RAM and so on (in a step S901).

Next (in a step S902) the management device 102 starts the bingo card data generation unit 702 and generates bingo card data 801, and, based thereon, performs bingo game preparation processing, which is processing in which progression state data 802 is prepared and is stored in the progression state data storage unit 703.

Next, the management device 102 waits to receive the selection result messages 501 transmitted from the slot machines 1, and makes a determination as to whether or not a selection result message 501 has been received (in a step S903). If no selection result message 501 is received (the NO branch from S903), then the management device 102 returns to the step S903 and waits for a selection result message 501. If, on the other hand, a selection result message 501 has been received (the YES branch from S903), then the management device 102 starts the selection result message processing unit 704, and performs hit and clear processing (in a step S904), which is processing for updating the progression state data 802 corresponding to this selection result message 501 which has been received, so as to hit and clear the corresponding cell of the bingo cards.

And next, the management device 102 starts the bingo hit determination unit 705, and refers to the progression state data 802 and determines (in a step S905) whether or not, for any lineup of cells, a bingo hit has occurred. If the result of this determination is that a bingo hit has not occurred (the NO branch from the step S906), then the management device 102 returns to the step S903, and waits for the receipt of the next selection result message 501.

If, on the other hand, it has been determined that a bingo hit has occurred (the YES branch from the step S906), then the management device 102 performs bingo hit message transmission processing (in a step S907). In this bingo hit message transmission processing, the management device 102 specifies, among the five records 802A which correspond to the cells of the lineup where this bingo hit has occurred, that record 802A which corresponds to a cell which is opened last (a cell in which hit-and-clear has been made last) and for which the latest (the newest) time stamp value is stored in the time stamp field 802H. And the management device 102 specifies the slot machine 1 which has won the bingo, from the gaming machine ID which is stored in the gaming machine ID field 802G of that record 802A. Moreover, the management device 102 calculates the total of the values which are stored in the allocated points fields 802E of the five records 802A which correspond to the cells of the lineup where the bingo hit has occurred, and takes this total value as the acquired game value. Next, the management device 102 generates a bingo hit message 502 in which are stored the acquired game vlaue 502X which has thus been calculated and the gaming machine ID 502Y of the slot machine 1 which has won this bingo, and transmits it to the slot machines 1. The above completes one bingo game.

After the step S907, in order to start a new bingo game, the management device 102 returns to the step S902, and thereafter repeats the steps S903 through S907.

1.3.2. An Example of the Operation of the Slot Machine

Next, an example of the operation of this slot machine 1 will be explained with reference to FIGS. 10 and 11. FIG. 10 is a flow chart showing the flow of the main processing of the slot machine 1. When the main processing of the slot machine 1 starts, first, basic game processing (in this example, a slot game) is performed (in a step S1001). In this embodiment, by a basic game is a processing sequence from the reception of the input of a determination of a number of coins which are bet, through detection of actuation of the spin switch 37 and starting through stopping of the rotation of the reels 46, up to a winning determination and award payout according to the stop symbols.

Next, the slot machine 1 (in more detail, its microcomputer 61 or CPU 30, and similarly hereinafter) performs linked type game execution processing (in a step S1002). FIG. 11 is a flow chart showing an example of such linked type game execution processing.

When this linked type game execution processing starts, the slot machine 1 (in more detail, its bingo ball appearance condition determination unit 403) executes (in a step S1101) bingo ball appearance condition determination processing, which is processing for determining whether or not the bingo ball appearance condition is satisfied. As previously described, the bingo ball appearance condition may be any suitable condition, provided that it can be determined on by the microcomputer 61 or the CPU 30. Here, it is supposed to be set as the ball appearance condition, that the spin switch 37 is being pressed, and that an output signal has been emitted by the spin switch 37.

If, in the step S1102, it has been determined that the bingo ball appearance condition has not been satisfied (in this example, if an output signal from the spin switch 37 has not been detected: NO in the step S1102), then the slot machine 1 terminates this linked type game execution processing, and the flow of control returns to the main processing of FIG. 10.

If on the other hand, in the step S1102, it has been determined that the bingo ball appearance condition has been satisfied (in this example, if an output signal from the spin switch 37 has been detected: YES in the step S1102), then the slot machine 1 (in more detail, the appeared ball presentation unit 406) executes (in a step S1103) bingo ball appearance determination processing, which is processing for determining which bingo ball shall appear. In this example, it is supposed that the slot machine 1 determine the number of bingo balls which shall appear randomly in the range from one to three. In more concrete terms, after having determined the number of bingo balls which shall appear randomly in the range from one to three, the slot machine 1 refers to the bingo ball permutation data 601, and determines a number of records 602, among the records in whose third fields 605 there is stored a flag which denotes non-appearance up till now, corresponding to the number of bingo balls which shall appear, in order from that record 602 whose first field 603 contains the least value.

After this bingo ball appearance determination processing (in the step S1103), the slot machine 1 performs (in a step S1104) bingo ball presentation processing by presenting to the player bingo balls to the number thereof which it has been determined shall appear, and by inviting selection input from the player. In this bingo ball presentation processing, the slot machine 1 (in more detail, the appeared ball presentation unit 406) causes bingo balls to be displayed on the lower liquid crystal display 4, to the number thereof which it has been determined in the step S1103 shall appear. Furthermore, the slot machine 1 acquires values which are stored in the number fields 604 of the records 602 to the number of bingo balls which it has been determined shall appear, and issues a command to the liquid crystal drive circuit 53, so as to cause images of bingo balls to which these numbers are affixed to be displayed. And the lower liquid crystal display 4 displays images of bingo balls to the number thereof which it has been determined shall appear, according to this command, and invites selection therefrom by the player.

Next, the slot machine 1 (in more detail, the selection result notification unit 407) receives selection input selected or determined by the player, i.e. one or a plurality from the bingo balls which were presented in the step S1104, generates a selection result message 501 based on this selection input, and executes (in a step S1105) selection result message transmission processing, which is processing for transmitting this message to the management device 102. In more concrete terms, the slot machine 1 (in more detail, the selection result notification unit 407) generates the selection result message 501 based on the selection input which the player has generated by actuating the touch panel 55 and the switches 37 through 42, and transmits this selection result message 501 to the management device 102.

Next, after a fixed time period has elapsed, the slot machine 1 (in more detail, the bingo game result processing unit 408) determines (in a step S1106) whether or not a bingo hit message 502 has been received from the management device 102, which is returned corresponding to the previously described selection result message 501 (including one which has been transmitted by a different one of the slot machines 1). If it has been determined that such a bingo hit message 502 has not been received (NO in the step S1106), then the management device 102 terminates this linked type game execution processing without doing anything further, and returns to the main processing. On the other hand, if it has been determined that such a bingo hit message 502 has been received (YES in the step S1106), then the slot machine 1 determines (in a step S1107) whether or not it is this machine which has won bingo or not, based on the gaming machine ID 502Y which is included in this bingo hit message 502.

If it has been determined that the machine which has won bingo is this slot machine 1 (YES in the step S1107), then the slot machine 1 performs (in a step S1108) award reception processing, since it is necessary to receive a winning bingo award. In concrete terms, in this award reception processing, the slot machine 1 adds the value of the acquired game value 502X which has been stored in the bingo hit message 502 to the credit value which is stored at this time point. By doing this, it is possible for the slot machine 1 which has won bingo to receive a game value corresponding to the bingo which it has won.

Following on from this award reception processing, the slot machine 1 must make preparations for the start of the next bingo game, and thus performs (in a step S1109) bingo ball permutation data generation processing in which it generates and stores bingo ball permutation data 802, and thereafter terminates this linked type game execution processing and returns to the main processing.

On the other hand, if it has been determined that the machine which has won bingo is not this slot machine 1 (NO in the step S1107), then the slot machine 1 does not perform award reception processing, but directly performs the bingo ball permutation data generation processing (in the step S1109), and thereafter terminates this linked type game execution processing and returns to the main processing.

The above completes the explanation of the linked type game execution processing. Returning to FIG. 10, the explanation of the main processing of the slot machine 1 will be recommenced. When the linked type game execution processing (of the step S1002) terminates, the slot machine 1 returns again to the basic game execution processing (in the step S1001), and thereafter continues to repeat the execution of the steps S1001 and S1002. The above completes the explanation of this example of the operation of the slot machine 1.

1.3.3. An Example of the Operation of the Gaming System

Next, an example of the operation of this gaming system according to this embodiment will be explained with reference to FIGS. 12 and 13. FIG. 12 is a sequence diagram showing this example of operation of the gaming system, while FIG. 13 is a sequence diagram continuing on from FIG. 12. It should be understood that the gaming system explained here is constituted by two slot machines 1 (which will be termed “slot machine A” and “slot machine B”, in order to distinguish them) and one management device 102 which is connected to them. Moreover, it should be understood that the following explanation is provided under the assumption that the management device 102, so as to be able to perform a linked type game, has already generated the bingo card data 802, and moreover both of the slot machine A and the slot machine B have already generated bingo ball permutation data 601.

First, the slot machine A performs basic game execution processing (FIG. 10; the step S1001), and thereafter shifts to linked type game execution processing (FIG. 10; the step S1002), and performs bingo ball appearance condition determination processing (FIG. 11: the step S1101) (in the step S1202). In this example the bingo ball appearance condition determination is supposed to be not hit. After the bingo ball appearance condition determination processing, the slot machine A simply terminates the linked type game execution processing.

Next, the slot machine B which is different from the slot machine A performs (in a step S1203) basic game execution processing (S1001 of FIG. 10), and thereafter shifts to linked type game execution processing (S1002 in FIG. 10), and performs (in a step S1204) bingo ball appearance condition determination processing (S1101 of FIG. 11). In this example, it will be supposed that the bingo ball appearance determination is that a hit has occurred. Thus, the slot machine B continues to perform the linked type game execution processing, and performs (in a step S1205) bingo ball appearance determination processing (S1103 of FIG. 11), performs (in a step S1206) bingo ball presentation processing (S1104 of FIG. 11), and performs (in a step S1207) selection result message transmission processing (S1105 of FIG. 11). As a result, a selection result message 501 is transmitted from the slot machine B to the management device 102 (in a step S1208).

On receipt of this selection result message 501, the management device 102 performs (in a step S1209) hit and clear processing on bingo card (S904 of FIG. 9), and then executes (in a step S1210) bingo hit determination processing (S905 of FIG. 9). In this example, it will be supposed that, due to the hit and clear processing on bingo card according to this selection result message 501, in some lineup of cells, the fourth cell has come to be in the opened state (the reached state). In other words, the management device 102 returns to waiting for reception of the next selection result message 501, since bingo has not been hit at the time of reception of this selection result message 501.

Next, the management device 102 displays on its display device an image of the bingo card, of which the fourth cell has come to be in the opened state (the reached state), and performs display (in a step S1211) of the progression state, in order to inform the players of the slot machines A and B of the state of progress of the game.

FIG. 13 is a sequence diagram continuing on from FIG. 12, and further shows this example of the operation of the gaming system according to this embodiment. In the following, the explanation of this example of the operation of this gaming system will be continued with reference to FIG. 13.

After the step S1211, the slot machine A performs (in a step S1301) basic game execution processing for a second time (S1001 of FIG. 10), thereafter shifts to linked type game execution processing (S1002 of FIG. 10), and performs (in a step S1302) bingo ball appearance condition determination processing (S1101 of FIG. 11). In this example, it will be supposed that the bingo ball appearance condition determination is hit. Thus, the slot machine A continues with the linked type game execution processing, and performs (in a step S1303) bingo ball appearance determination processing (S1103 of FIG. 11), performs (in a step S1304) bingo ball presentation processing (S1104 of FIG. 11), and performs (in a step S1305) selection result message transmission processing (S1105 of FIG. 11). As a result, a selection result message 501 is transmitted from the slot machine A to the management device 102 (in a step S1306).

On receipt of this selection result message 501, the management device 102 performs (in a step S1307) hit and clear processing on bingo card (S904 of FIG. 9), and then executes (in a step S1308) bingo hit determination processing (S905 of FIG. 9). In this example, it will be supposed that, due to the hit and clear processing on bingo card according to this selection result message 501, in the lineup of cells in which already the fourth cell is in the opened state (the reached state), the fifth cell now has arrived at being in the opened state (the bingo hit state). In other words it is supposed that, due to the receipt of this selection result message 501, bingo has been hit. The management device 102 determines in the bingo hit determination processing (S905 of FIG. 9) that a bingo hit has occurred, and performs (in a step S1309) bingo hit message transmission processing (S907 of FIG. 9).

Furthermore, the management device 102 displays an image of the bingo card on which the fifth cell has come to be in the opened state (the bingo hit state) on its display device, and performs (in a step S1310) a progression state display, in order to inform the players of the slot machines A and B of the bingo hit.

Yet further, as a result of the execution of the bingo hit message transmission processing, a bingo hit message 502 is transmitted from the management device 102 to the slot machine A and the slot machine B (in steps S1311 and S1312).

On receipt of this bingo hit message 502, the slot machine A determines that itself has won, and performs (in the step S1313) award reception processing (FIG. 11: the step S1108). Thereafter it performs (in the step S1314) bingo ball permutation data generation processing (FIG. 11: the step S1109), and prepares to start the next linked type game.

On the other hand, on receipt of this bingo hit message 502, the slot machine B determines that it is not this machine which has won, and does not perform any award reception processing, but merely performs (in the step S1315) bingo ball permutation data generation processing (FIG. 11: the step S1109), and, in the same manner as the slot machine A, prepares to start the next linked type game.

By contrast, the management device 102 which has transmitted the bingo hit message performs (in a step S1316) bingo card data generation processing (S902 in FIG. 9), since preparations must be made for the start of a new bingo game. And, based on the bingo card data 802 which has been generated by this bingo card data generation processing, the management device 102 performs (in a step S1317) progression state display by causing a new bingo card to be displayed on its display device.

Subsequently as well, the same processing is continued by the slot machines A and B and the management device 102, and the players continue repeatedly to participate in both the basic game and the linked type game, so that it is possible for them to enjoy playing. The above completes the explanation of this example of operation of this gaming system.

1.4. Screen Examples

Next, examples of screens which are displayed by the slot machine 1 and the management device 102 of this system during execution of this linked type game will be explained.

1.4.1. Examples of the Screens Displayed by the Slot Machine

FIGS. 14 and 15 show examples of screens which are displayed by the slot machine 1.

FIG. 14A is an example of a screen which is displayed before a bingo ball has appeared. On this screen, in the lower liquid crystal display 4 of the slot machine 1, below the windows 23, 24, and 25, an image is displayed of a pipe 1401 which has an inlet 1402 and an outlet 1403.

FIG. 14B is an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 14A, when one bingo ball 1501 has appeared as a result of the execution of the bingo ball presentation processing (in the step S1104). “16” is displayed as the number of this bingo ball 1501. Using the touch panel 55 or the like, the player is able to make a selection input to the slot machine 1 in order to select this bingo ball 1501 or not. If he has performed selection input to select this bingo ball 1501, a selection result message 501 with the value “16” stored in its number 501X comes to be transmitted to the management device 102.

FIG. 15A is an example of a screen, different from the example screen shown in FIG. 14B, which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 14A, when three bingo balls 1501 have appeared as a result of the execution of the bingo ball presentation processing (in the step S1104). In the lower liquid crystal display 4, along with the pipe 1401, there are displayed the three bingo balls 1501 which have appeared, and also a message 1601 which invites the player to perform selection input. From the right, “16”, “8”, and “51” are displayed as numbers on these bingo balls 1501. Using the touch panel 55 or the like, the player is able to make a selection input to the slot machine 1 in order to select any one of these bingo balls 1501, or none. The player performs selection input by touching the image of any one of the bingo balls 1501. When he has performed this selection input, a selection result message 501 in which is stored the value of the bingo ball which he has thus selected comes to be transmitted to the management device 102.

It should be understood that although, in the above described explanation, it was described that, if a plurality of bingo balls have appeared, it is possible to select any one, and only one, thereof, it would also be acceptable to make it possible, if a plurality of bingo balls have appeared, to select a plurality of these bingo balls. In this case, it would be acceptable to transmit the same number of selection result messages to the management device 102 as the number of bingo balls which were selected, with data being stored in these selection result messages making it possible to determine the order in which the bingo balls were selected.

By the way, in the examples of screens shown in FIGS. 14A, 14B, and 15A, when a bingo ball appears, this new bingo ball appears from the inlet 1402, and then the bingo balls within the pipe 1401 shift so as to be pressed down towards the outlet 1403 in turn. FIG. 15B is a figure showing a state in which, in the last phase of the bingo game, as a result of bingo balls having appeared one after another from the inlet 1402, these bingo balls are lined up continuously within the pipe 1401.

Next, examples are shown in FIGS. 16 and 17 of screens displayed by the slot machine 1, other than the screen examples shown in FIGS. 14 and 15.

FIG. 16A is an example of a screen which is displayed before the appearance of a bingo ball, in a different example. Below the windows 23, 24, and 25 on the lower liquid crystal display 4 of the slot machine 1, there are respectively displayed inlets 1801L, 1801C, and 1801R and outlets 1802L, 1802C, and 1802R for bingo balls.

FIG. 16B is an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 16A, when one bingo ball 1901 has appeared as a result of the execution of the bingo ball presentation processing (in the step S1104). “16” is displayed as the number of this bingo ball 1901. Using the touch panel 55 or the like, the player is able to make a selection input to the slot machine 1 in order to select this bingo ball 1901 or not. If he has performed selection input to select this bingo ball 1901, a selection result message 501 with the value “16” stored in its number 501X comes to be transmitted to the management device 102.

FIG. 17A is an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 16A, when three bingo balls 1901 have appeared as a result of the execution of the bingo ball presentation processing (in the step S1104). In the lower liquid crystal display 4, these three bingo balls 1901 which have appeared are displayed above the inlets 1801L, 1801C, and 1801R, and also there is displayed a message 2001 which invites the player to perform selection input. From the left, “16”, “8”, and “51 are displayed as numbers on these bingo balls 1901. Using the touch panel 55 or the like, the player is able to make a selection input to the slot machine 1 in order to select any one of these bingo balls 1901, or none. The player performs selection input by touching the image of any one of the bingo balls 1901, and, when he has performed this selection input, a selection result message 501 in which is stored the value of the bingo ball which he has thus selected comes to be transmitted to the management device 102.

It should be understood that although, in the above described explanation, it was described that, if a plurality of bingo balls have appeared, it is possible to select any one, and only one, thereof, it would also be acceptable to make it possible, if a plurality of bingo balls have appeared, to select a plurality of these bingo balls. In this case, it would be acceptable to transmit the same number of selection result messages to the management device 102 as the number of bingo balls which were selected, with data being stored in these selection result messages making it possible to determine the order in which the bingo balls were selected.

In this screen example, when a bingo ball appears, this new bingo ball appears from an inlet 1801, and the bingo balls which first appear over the inlets 1801 shift so as to be pressed outwards in turn towards the outlets 1802 FIG. 17B is a figure showing an example of a screen which is displayed when further new bingo ball presentation processing has been performed after the state shown in FIG. 17A. In this screen example, a new bingo ball 1901 bearing the number “72” has appeared over the inlet 1801L, and the bingo ball 1901 bearing the number “16” which was previously in that position comes to be in the state of being pressed upwards towards the corresponding outlet 1802L.

1.4.2. Examples of the Screens Displayed by the Management Device

Next, examples of screens which are displayed by the management device 102 will be explained with reference to FIGS. 18 through 23.

FIG. 18A is an example of an image of a bingo card which is displayed by the management device 102. This image is one which is displayed based on the bingo card data 802. In the display region 2200 of the display device which is possessed by the management device 102, there are displayed cells which are arranged in the form of a 55 matrix, and a number is displayed within each of these cells. It should be understood that no number is displayed in the cell at the center, only, but instead this cell bears the characters “Free”, which means that it is treated as already having been opened.

FIG. 18B is an example of a screen which is displayed when, in the situation shown in FIG. 18A, a bingo ball bearing the number “29” has been selected from the slot machine 1, in other words, when a selection result message 501 in which the value “29” is stored in its number 501X has been received by the management device 102. In the example shown in FIG. 18B, the management device 102 starts the display by, as an effect, opening the cell 2201 which corresponds to the number “29”, and performing operation to rotate the background plate of the cell 2201 and reverse it.

FIG. 19A is a screen which continues on from the screen of FIG. 18B, and shows the state when the plate of the cell 2201 has been rotated and reversed. On the rear surface of this plate of the cell 2201, the digits “60” is displayed, which is the number of allocated points corresponding to the number “29”.

FIG. 19B is a screen which shows a situation in which, after the screen display of FIG. 19A, the linked type game has progressed further, and all of the cells 2201, 2202, 2203, 2204, and 2205 in the row which includes the cell 2201 have been rotated and reversed—in other words, a bingo hit situation. On the rear surfaces of the plates of these cells 2201 through 2205 there are displayed the allocated points which respectively correspond thereto, which here are “60”, “30”, “40”, “10”, and “20”. In this example, the acquired game value, which is the bingo award, is the total of these allocated points, in other words is 60+30+40+10+20=160; and the player who has hit bingo receives 160 credits as an award.

In this example, it is supposed that one bingo game finishes at this point, and this gaming system starts a new bingo game; but of course, alternatively, it would also be acceptable for the bingo game to continue even after this one bingo has been hit.

It would also be acceptable to arrange for it to be possible to identify, on the screen which is displayed by the management device 102, which player (i.e. which slot machine) has opened which cell. In FIGS. 20A and 20B, there are shown examples of display screens, on which it is possible to identify the players (the slot machines 1) who have opened the cells. In FIG. 20A, the cells 2601, 2602, 2603, and 2604 are already opened, so that this is an example of a screen when the so called reached state has been attained. In this screen example, if a bingo ball which bears the number “36” appears on any one of the slot machines 1, the cell 2605 will be opened and a bingo hit will occur. In FIG. 20A, the cells 2601, 2602, 2603, and 2604 are displayed in colors which correspond to the players (i.e. the slot machines 1) who have opened these cells (in the figures, the differences in color are shown by differences in hatching), so that it is made possible for the players mutually to recognize which player (i.e. which slot machine 1) has opened which cell.

FIG. 20B is an example of a screen which is displayed after the screen of FIG. 20A, and which shows the state when a bingo ball bearing the number “36” has appeared on a slot machine 1, and a bingo hit has thereby occurred. In the cell 2605 as well, the color of the player (i.e. of the slot machine 1) who has opened that cell is displayed, so that it becomes possible for all of the players to recognize which player has hit bingo and has acquired an award.

It should be understood that a bingo hit may not necessarily be limited to some continuous line of cells being opened in one of the horizontal, the vertical, or a diagonal direction. FIGS. 21A and 21B show examples of other bingo hits. In these examples, the characters “B”, “I”, “N”, “G”, and “0” are shaded in on some five cells within the matrix, and a bingo hit occurs when these five cells on which the characters “B”, “I”, “N”, “G”, and “0” are shaded in are all opened.

FIG. 21A is an example of a screen which shows a situation when a bingo card is displayed in the display region 2200, and, in this bingo card, the cell 2801 (bearing the character “B”), the cell 2802 (bearing the character “I”), the cell 2803 (bearing the character “0”), and the cell 2804 (bearing the character “N”) have already been opened (hit and cleared). In this state, which is the so-called reached state, a bingo hit will thereafter occur if and when the cell in which the character “G” is shaded in is opened. It should be understood that it is arranged for the players not to know in which cell the character “G” is shaded in.

FIG. 21B is an example of a screen which shows a situation when, after the screen shown in FIG. 21A, the cell 2805 on which the character “G” is shaded in is opened. Thereby, a bingo hit occurs, and an award for a bingo hit is paid to the player who has opened the cell 2805; in other words “370”, which is the total of the allocated points “20”, “140”, “60”, “80”, and “70” which are displayed in the cells 2801 through 2805, is paid to that player as an award.

Furthermore, it would also be acceptable to arrange that, when a cell is reversed, a multiple is shown at the side of the number of allocated points, like “x2”, “x4”. FIG. 22A shows an example of a screen in which, for a cell 3001, a multiple is shown at the side of the number of allocated points. If this type of cell has been displayed, a value which is obtained by multiplying the total of the allocated points by this multiple is paid to the winning player as an award.

Moreover, it would also be acceptable to arrange also to pay an award to a player even though he has not hit bingo. FIG. 22B shows an example of a screen which is displayed when, if some specified cell has been opened, it is displayed in that cell that an award will be paid, even though bingo has not been hit. When the cell 3100 is opened and reversed, along with displaying its allocated points “500”, an effect is performed in which light is emitted, and an award of “500” is paid to the played who has opened this cell 3100.

Even further, it would also be acceptable to arrange for more than one cell to be opened for a single bingo ball. FIG. 23C shows an example of a screen which is displayed when more than one cell is opened for a single bingo ball. In FIG. 23C, the cell 3200 is opened by some player, and the plate for this cell reverses and, along with its allocated points “80”, a symbol which indicates a jump is displayed, and the number “6” is also displayed. When a symbol of this sort which indicates a jump is displayed, the cell (the jump destination) having the number which has been displayed along with this jump symbol is also opened. If there is no jump destination, or if it is already opened, then it may be arranged for the symbol which indicates the jump to be ineffective.

It should be understood that the bingo card which is displayed by the management device 102 may not necessarily use an array of matrix form. In FIGS. 23A and 23B, there are shown examples of screens on which the management device 102 has displayed a bingo card which does not use an array of matrix form. In the screen example shown in FIG. 23A, a bingo card is shown in which the cells at the four corners are absent. Furthermore, in the screen example shown in FIG. 23B, a bingo card is shown in which cells 3501, 3502, 3503, and 3504 are already opened from the very start of the bingo game. The present invention may also be implemented using this type of bingo card.

2. The Second Embodiment

Next, a second embodiment of the present invention will be explained. The gaming system according to this second embodiment is characterized by the fact that it performs a linked type game according to the symbols which are used in the basic game. In the first embodiment, the slot machines 1 were so called hybrid machines in which mechanical reels and liquid crystal screens were combined; but, by contrast, the slot machines 1 of this second embodiment are, suitably, machines of the so called video slot type. The other structures and operations of this second embodiment are the same as in the case of the gaming system of the first embodiment.

FIGS. 24 and 25 show examples of screen displays of the slot machines, in this second embodiment.

FIG. 24A is an example of a screen which is displayed on the liquid crystal display device 2200 of the slot machines.

In this example, the liquid crystal display device 2200 is of a so-called five-reel type which displays five reels 36011 through 36015: at the beginning of a basic game, it starts a varying display of various types of symbol 3602 and the like as though the rotation of the reels 36011 through 36015 has been started, and, after a predetermined time period has elapsed, it terminates this varying display of the various types of symbol 3602 and the like, as though the rotation has been stopped, and displays a symbol stopped for each reel. In FIG. 24A, a special symbol 3603 is displayed as a symbol stopped, which is the bingo ball appearance condition. In this example, when one or more symbols 3603 are displayed, one bingo ball appears for each symbol 3603.

FIG. 24B is an example of a screen which is transitted to from the screen of FIG. 24A. In this example, a production is performed in which a bingo ball 3701 pops out from within the symbol 3603. FIG. 25A is an example of a screen which is displayed after FIG. 24B. In this example, the bingo ball 3701 pops out further from within the symbol 3603, and a production is performed in which it becomes bigger.

FIG. 25B is an example of a screen which is transitted to from the screen of FIG. 25A. In this example, the bingo ball 3701 appears over the whole of the symbol 3603, and the number which is assigned to the bingo ball is also displayed. This screen becomes a screen which is displayed based on the bingo ball presentation processing (FIG. 11: the step S1104), and the player performs his selection input based on this screen, just as in the first embodiment.

Since, according to this embodiment, since it is possible to perform the linked type game in a state of closely connected with the execution of the basic game, accordingly it is possible to attract the interest of the player better, and thus it becomes possible to supply a gaming system which can enhance the inclination of the player to participate.

3. Modified Embodiments

(1) Although, in the first and the second embodiment, the management device 102 and the slot machines 1 were explained as being separate devices, an arrangement would also be acceptable in which one of the slot machines 1 is made to function as the management device 102. Furthermore, to build the gaming system according to the present invention as a so-called stand alone environment, so that the slot machine 1 is endowed with the functions of the management device 102, is also to be considered as falling within the technical scope of the present invention.

(2) In the first and the second embodiments, it would also be acceptable to arrange, each time the management device 102 opens any cell, for it to transmit data showing the game progression state to each of the slot machines 1. Such data showing the game progression state, for example, may be data which can display an image which corresponds to a bingo card, such as shown in FIGS. 18 through 23. On receipt of this data which shows the game progression state, the slot machine 1 displays, on the upper liquid crystal display 3 or the lower liquid crystal display 4 or the like, an image which has the same contents as the image of the bingo card which is displayed by the management device 102. By doing this, each player becomes able to check on the progression of the bingo game, even without expressly looking at the management device 102, simply by looking at his own upper liquid crystal display 3 or lower liquid crystal display 4, which is readily to hand.

It should be understood that, as has been explained above, according to the present invention, with a linked type game in which a plurality of players can participate, it is possible to supply a linked type game in which the game progresses based on selections by the players, and it becomes possible to impart a stronger impression to the players who are participating in this linked type game, thus enhancing the attractive qualities of the game.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20090054130 *Apr 27, 2007Feb 26, 2009Gaming Partners InternationalSystem, Apparatus, and Method For Calculating Bets In Casino Table Games, In Particular For Poker Games
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/19
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3262
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32M2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 13, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: ARUZE CORP., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:OSAWA, AKIRA;REEL/FRAME:018056/0296
Effective date: 20060606