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Publication numberUS20060287098 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/225,770
Publication dateDec 21, 2006
Filing dateSep 12, 2005
Priority dateSep 28, 2001
Also published asCA2622763A1, CN101312772A, CN101312772B, CN102302855A, CN102302855B, EP1933957A2, EP1933957A4, US20110294575, WO2007033005A2, WO2007033005A3
Publication number11225770, 225770, US 2006/0287098 A1, US 2006/287098 A1, US 20060287098 A1, US 20060287098A1, US 2006287098 A1, US 2006287098A1, US-A1-20060287098, US-A1-2006287098, US2006/0287098A1, US2006/287098A1, US20060287098 A1, US20060287098A1, US2006287098 A1, US2006287098A1
InventorsJames Morrow, Carmen DiMichele, Paul Osgood
Original AssigneeMorrow James W, Dimichele Carmen, Osgood Paul R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System and method for gaming-content configuration and management system
US 20060287098 A1
Abstract
A configuration and management system monitors and controls one or more gaming devices in a gaming system on at least one gaming floor. The system includes one or more gaming devices in a gaming system, wherein the gaming devices are interconnected via a network; a processing and control system; and a back-end, graphical user interface. The processing and control system is interconnected to the gaming devices via the network. Further, the processing and control system acquires gaming performance data from the gaming devices in the gaming system. The back-end, graphical user interface includes an interactive map of the gaming floor. Additionally, graphical user interface enables monitoring and configuration of multiple gaming platform capabilities, multiple game titles, and multiple gaming parameters for each gaming devices on the gaming floor, and is interconnected to the processing and control system.
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Claims(65)
1. A configuration and management system for monitoring and controlling one or more gaming devices in a gaming system on at least one gaming floor, the system comprising:
one or more gaming devices in a gaming system, wherein the gaming devices are interconnected via a network;
a processing and control system, wherein the processing and control system is interconnected to the gaming devices via the network, and wherein the processing and control system acquires gaming performance data from the gaming devices in the gaming system; and
a server-side, graphical user interface including an interactive map of the gaming floor, wherein the graphical user interface enables monitoring of the gaming performance data from the gaming devices in the gaming system and configuration of multiple gaming platform capabilities, multiple game titles, and multiple gaming parameters for each gaming devices on the gaming floor, and wherein the graphical user interface is interconnected to the processing and control system.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the network is a serial-based communication network.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein the serial-based communication network implements a SAS protocol, and wherein the configuration and management system enables previously un-implemented poll codes of the SAS protocol to be utilized by the graphical user interface to monitor and configure gaming platform capabilities of one or more gaming devices in the gaming system.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the network is a packet-based communication network.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the packet-based communication network comprises an IP-based message set that utilizes an interface layer between command-driven devices and logical communication channels.
6. The system of claim 4, wherein the packet-based communication network implements a protocol selected from the group consisting of: BOB protocol and SuperSAS protocol.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the gaming devices are selected from the group consisting of: electronic gaming machines; embedded components, including game monitoring units, and player tracking user interfaces; gaming-related signage, and kiosks.
8. The system of claim 1, wherein the gaming systems that are controllable by the configuration and management system include casino venues, class II venues, and lottery venues.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the gaming performance data is selected from the group consisting of: coin-in activity, coin-out activity, meters, accounting information, security information, and player rating information.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein the gaming platform capabilities include platform-specific control over functions selected from the group consisting of: volume settings, speed of play, hopper limits, log access, platform-specific reports, and asset information, including software and hardware bills of material.
11. The system of claim 1, wherein the gaming platforms are selected from the group consisting of: video gaming platforms and mechanical reel-spinning platforms.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein the configuration and management system enables modification of multiple compatible gaming platforms to enable selection of game theme, game percentage payout, and game play denominations through the use of serial commands.
13. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system identifies available configuration and control capabilities in each interconnected gaming device, and targets the configurable and controllable capabilities remotely using a serial-based protocol or a packet-based protocol.
14. The system of claim 1, wherein the gaming parameters include game theme, game percentage payout, and game play denominations.
15. The system of claim 1, wherein the interactive map in graphical user interface includes multiple selectable layers, wherein each layer displays a different category of information.
16. The system of claim 15, wherein layers correspond to categories of information selected from the group consisting of: occupancy level, level of handle, sound level, heat level, accounting, and performance measurements.
17. The system of claim 1, wherein the interactive map in graphical user interface translates into a multi-dimensional graphic form that includes geographic location information, wherein the geographic location information is selected from a group consisting of: country, state, facility, and gaming floor position.
18. The system of claim 1, wherein the interactive map in graphical user interface includes multiple selectable tabs that control other systems and devices selected from the group consisting of SDG, SDS, ACSC, Mcc, MindPlay, and CMP.
19. The system of claim 1, wherein the multiple selectable tabs of the interactive map are associated with gaming floor analysis, network management, and player marketing.
20. The system of claim 1, wherein the interactive map in graphical user interface includes multiple colors, wherein the multiple colors are used to emphasize information.
21. The system of claim 20, wherein the multiple colors represent values selected from the group consisting of: high, low, medium, empty, and full.
22. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system configures gaming devices using game combinations, wherein the game combinations include company/location/cabinet/theme/percentage/denomination.
23. The system of claim 22, wherein each game combination controlled and managed by the configuration and management system is associated with corresponding configurations, assets, and logs.
24. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system enables configuration and management of device parameters that are multi-platform, multi-theme, multi-percentage, and multi-denomination.
25. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system enables downloading code to the gaming devices, and wherein the code is advertising content, an entire new game title, a game update, an operating system update, or combinations thereof.
26. The system of claim 25, wherein the code is downloaded into an escrow area where the code cannot affect game play until after a successful authentication process has been performed.
27. The system of claim 1, further comprising a distribution management server, wherein the server enables point-to-point distribution management utilizing a portable computing device connects to a single gaming device or a small number of gaming devices.
28. The system of claim 1, further comprising a distribution management server, wherein the server enables property-based distribution management by utilizing the server to control up to all of the gaming devices at a single property.
29. The system of claim 1, further comprising a distribution management server, wherein the server enables wide area network distribution management by utilizing the server to control thousands of gaming devices that are interconnected via a combination of broadband networks and dial up facilities.
30. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system includes system management capabilities and operating system capabilities.
31. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system enables web-based communications, access to platform-specific logs and reports, and downloading of code and advertising content.
32. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system enables platform-specific control and auditing of system configurations.
33. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system includes data analysis tools, scheduling capabilities, and messaging resources for sending messages to the gaming system.
34. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system includes links to expanded systems offerings and network management capabilities.
35. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system acts as a portal through which system administers have access to multiple properties services.
36. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system enables control of game code, game data, and game configuration.
37. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system enables controlling and managing of multiple different gaming platforms from multiple different platform manufacturers.
38. The system of claim 1, wherein the configuration and management system includes a directory structure and filing system that is implemented for game theme tables, gaming platform configuration, and access logs.
39. The system of claim 1, further comprising a distribution management component, wherein the distribution management component transmits data from a backend server to the gaming floor using otherwise unused network bandwidth, wherein the data is transmitted without adversely affecting gaming related transactions.
40. The system of claim 39, wherein the distribution management component of the configuration and management system enables downloading large files of bulk data while game play is in progress.
41. The system of claim 39, wherein the distribution management component of the configuration and management system enables schedule-able and monitor-able data transmission.
42. The system of claim 39, wherein the gaming platform and network load combine to determine proper time and speed for transmission of data to take place.
43. The system of claim 39, wherein the distribution management component of the configuration and management system enables download scheduling, ensures no bandwidth impact, enables progress reporting, and guarantees delivery, setup, and management of data transmission.
44. A method for monitoring and controlling one or more gaming devices in a gaming system using a configuration and management system, wherein the system comprises a processing and control system and a server-side, graphical user interface that includes an interactive map of the gaming floor, the method comprising:
enabling identification of configuration and control capabilities available in each gaming device in the gaming system using the interactive map in the graphical user interface;
enabling the identified configurable and controllable capabilities of the gaming devices to be targeted for modification using the graphical user interface; and
enabling configuration of multiple gaming platform capabilities, multiple game titles, and multiple gaming parameters for each gaming devices on the gaming floor using the graphical user interface.
45. A method for performing yield analysis modification on one or more gaming machines in a gaming system in response to gaming performance data, the method comprising:
acquiring gaming performance data from one or more gaming machines in a gaming system;
performing yield analysis calculations using the gaming performance data;
in response to the yield analysis calculations, determining a desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines; and
modifying one or more gaming parameters of one or more gaming machines in response to the yield analysis calculations, wherein modifying one or more gaming parameters facilitates achieving a desired profitability level.
46. The method of claim 45, further comprising: notifying any current players of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines
47. The method of claim 45, further comprising: receiving authorization from any current players of acceptance of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines.
48. The method of claim 45, wherein notifying any current players of the desired modification comprises: an audio announcement of the desired modification.
49. The method of claim 45, wherein notifying any current players of the desired modification comprises: a visual announcement of the desired modification.
50. The method of claim 45, wherein notifying any current players of the desired modification is maintained for at least one game play cycle.
51. The method of claim 45, wherein a current player that has been notified of the desired modification is provided with a finite number of game play cycles to play using current gaming parameters before the desired modification to the gaming parameters is automatically implemented.
52. The method of claim 45, wherein the gaming performance data comprises data selected from a group consisting of: slot accounting data, multi-game cabinet accounting data, player tracking data, hotel data, point of sale system data, location data, game mix nearby data, entertainment data, weather data, off site user group demographic data, and groupings of players data.
53. The method of claim 45, wherein the gaming parameters comprises parameters selected from a group consisting of: theme; wager, including minimum bet, maximum bet, and minimum line bet; denomination; percentage payout; and play time, including spin cycle time and bonus round time.
54. The method of claim 45, wherein yield analysis and predictive analysis results are displayed using a graphical user interface that presents a map of the gaming floor.
55. The method of claim 45, wherein gaming performance data and yield analysis calculations are used in combination with individual player performance tracking data to provide each player with unique game play characteristics.
56. The method of claim 45, wherein gaming performance data and yield analysis calculations are used in combination with individual player performance tracking data to enable customization of the game theme offerings specific to each individual player.
57. The method of claim 45, wherein gaming performance data and yield analysis calculations are used in combination with individual player performance tracking data to enable individualized game characterization, game control, and game promotions.
58. The method of claim 45, wherein the profitability level is determined using the following formula:
CP = time ( OP - OE )
Where:
CP=Casino profitability level
OP=Operations Profit
OE=Operations Expenses
59. The method of claim 58, wherein the Operations Profit is determined using the following formula:
OP = time ( POSP + SFD )
Where:
POSP=Point Of Sale Profit (includes hotel, retail, food and beverage, and entertainment)
SFD=Slot Floor Drop
60. The method of claim 59, wherein the Slot Floor Drop is determined using the following formula:
SFD = time ( PL - promotions ) ( RETURNVISIT )
Where:
RETURNVISIT=probability that the player will return to the casino.
PL=Player Loss
Promotions=marketing money the casino contributes to player kickbacks, comps, and system games.
61. The method of claim 60, wherein the Player Loss is determined using the following formula:

PL=ST*GCT*HPC*WAGER
Where:
ST=time the player spends at the slot machine, (i.e., seat time)
GCT=Game Cycle Time
HPC=Hold Percentage for the game
62. The method of claim 61, wherein the Wager is determined using the following formula:

WAGER=LINESBET*CREDITS*DENOM
Where:
LINESBET is the number of lines on which the player is betting.
CREDITS is the number of credits the player chooses to bet.
DENOM is denomination, i.e., the worth of an individual credit.
63. A method for modifying existing casino profitability levels to facilitate approximation of desired casino profitability levels, the method comprising:
acquiring yield analysis information associated with one or more gaming machines in a gaming system, wherein the yield analysis information is associated with an existing casino profitability level;
determining a desired modification to one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines the yield analysis information;
notifying players of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines; and
modifying one or more gaming parameters of the one or more gaming machines in response to the yield analysis information, wherein modifying one or more gaming parameters facilitates achieving a desired casino profitability level.
64. A system for facilitating achieving a desired casino profitability level, the system comprising:
one or more gaming machines in a gaming system, wherein the gaming machines are interconnected via a communication link;
gaming performance data acquisition system, wherein the acquisition system obtains gaming performance data from the one or more gaming machines in the gaming system;
a processing system, wherein the processing system performs yield analysis calculations using the gaming performance data to determine an existing casino profitability level, wherein the processing system uses the yield analysis calculations to determine and implement a desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines, and wherein modifying one or more gaming parameters facilitates achieving a desired casino profitability level; and
a notification system, wherein the notification system notifies players of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines.
65. A method for performing yield analysis modification on one or more gaming machines in a gaming system in response to gaming performance data, the method comprising:
acquiring gaming performance data from one or more gaming machines in a gaming system;
performing yield analysis calculations using the gaming performance data;
in response to the yield analysis calculations, determining desired modification options in one or more gaining parameters of the gaming machines; and
providing one or more modification options to an administrator, wherein the administrator may select a modification option to implement from among the one or more modification options;
modifying one or more gaming parameters of one or more gaming machines in response to the receipt of a command instruction from an administrator to implement a selected modification option, wherein modifying one or more gaming parameters facilitates achieving a desired profitability level.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/943,771 filed Sep. 16, 2004, entitled USER INTERFACE SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR A GAMING MACHINE, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/065,771 filed Feb. 24, 2005, entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR AN ALTERABLE STORAGE MEDIA IN A GAMING MACHINE, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference; this application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/092,179 filed Mar. 28, 2005, entitled GAMING DEVICE NETWORK MANAGING SYSTEM AND METHOD; and this application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/967,283 filed Sep. 28, 2001, entitled RECONFIGURABLE GAMING MACHINE which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to a system and method for configuring and managing gaming devices, and more particularly, to a system and method for configuring and managing gaming devices with respect to content configuration, management, and delivery.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Today's slot machines have parameters programmed into their code such as theme, percentage, denomination, lines bet, minimum bet, maximum bet, game run time, and the like. Changing any of these parameters requires new game code, regulatory approval for, the code changes, physical movement of machines weighing hundreds of pounds and regulatory approval for the move and oversight.

Past methods of changing games on the floor have been manual in nature. As stated above, games and their associated gaming parameters are typically programmed into EPROMs (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) contained within the gaming machines. Accordingly, the changing of games (or modifying gaming parameters) requires the EPROMs to be changed. Such a procedure involves physically opening the gaming machines, erasing and reprogramming the code (EPROM), and re-sealing the EPROM if required by the regulatory jurisdiction. This also required the entire game to be ‘re-optioned’ which is a long, error prone manual process.

Furthermore, gaming machines have operated for the most part as stand-alone devices, at least with respect to non-progressive gaming. In this regard, while there may have existed some limited forms of communication or networking, fully networked data and communication systems have not been traditionally implemented. One reason for this lack of fully networked infrastructure is the difficulty in upgrading system infrastructure, due the constant utilization of a gaming system, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For this reason and others, gaming machines have typically been utilized as separate machines, which are swapped out or upgraded, but which generally operate autonomously. It would be desirable for gaming machines instead, to be utilized as components of a larger interactive and symphonious organizational arrangement. However, many obstacles have made such an arrangement difficult and unwieldy to visualize let alone implement.

However, the lack of such a system deprives casino owners of both apparent and actual control over their gaming floors. Further, casino patrons are limited in the variety and selection of both games, and the gaming parameters within such games, that are available to these patrons. These limitations are commonly due to the particularized nature and general lack of customization typically associated with individual gaming machines. In this regard, casino owners have become aware that by adding additional features to gaming machines, they may be able to maintain a player's attention to the gaming machines for longer periods of time. This, in turn, leads to the player wagering at the gaming machine for longer periods of time, thereby increasing casino profits.

One technique that has been employed to maintain a player's attention at the gaming machine has been to provide players with access to gambling-related information. Moreover, it would be desirable to provide the player with interactive access to the above information. This type of interactivity would allow players significantly more flexibility to make use of the above-described information. The gambling-related information could also be utilized by the player in a much more efficient manner. In this regard, greater levels of flexibility and access are likely to make a player remain and gamble at the gaming machine for significantly longer periods of time. Unfortunately, the system components that are currently utilized for displaying and accessing this type of information, such as external keypads and display modules, are extremely limited in the functionality and capabilities that they provide, thus limiting the success of their ability to maintain a player's attention.

Additionally, it would be desirable to be able to track and dynamically sort gaming devices with respect to various qualities and/or parameters that are possessed by those gaming devices, including new components for integrating expanded service and systems capabilities with the more traditional function of a gaming device. Accordingly, those skilled in the art have long recognized the need for a system that is capable of integrating expanded service and systems capabilities, as well as additional gaming related features, with the more traditional function of a gaming device. The preferred embodiments of the system and method described herein clearly addresses these and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, and in general terms, the claimed invention resolves the above and other problems by providing a configuration and management system for monitoring and controlling one or more gaming devices in a gaming system on at least one gaming floor. The system includes: one or more gaming devices in a gaming system; a processing and control system; and a server-side, graphical user interface including an interactive map of the gaming floor. Preferably, the one or more gaming devices in the gaming system, as well as the processing and control system, are interconnected via a network. The processing and control system acquires gaming performance data from the gaming devices in the gaming system. The server-side, graphical user interface includes an interactive map of the gaming floor. Additionally, the graphical user interface enables monitoring of the gaming performance data from the gaming devices in the gaming system. Further, the graphical user interface enables configuration of multiple gaming platform capabilities, multiple game titles, and multiple gaming parameters for each gaming devices on the gaming floor. Preferably, the graphical user interface is interconnected to the processing and control system.

In one preferred embodiment, the network is a serial-based communication network. In one such embodiment, the serial-based communication network implements the SAS (slot accounting system) protocol or other similar serial-based protocol. Continuing, in such an embodiment, the configuration and management system enables previously un-implemented poll codes of the SAS protocol to be utilized by the graphical user interface to configure gaming platform capabilities of one or more gaming devices in the gaming system.

In another preferred embodiment, the network is a packet-based communication network. In one such embodiment, the packet-based communication network comprises an IP-based message set that utilizes an interface layer between command-driven devices and logical communication channels. Continuing, in such an embodiment, the packet-based communication network implements the BOB (best of breed) protocol, SuperSAS protocol, or other similar packet-based protocol.

In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming devices include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: electronic gaming machines; embedded components, including game monitoring units, and player tracking user interfaces; gaming-related signage, and kiosks. Preferably, the gaming systems that are controllable by the configuration and management system include casino venues, class II venues, and lottery venues. In one aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming performance data includes, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: coin-in activity, coin-out activity, meters, accounting information, security information, and player rating information. In still another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming platform capabilities include platform-specific control over functions including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: volume settings, speed of play, hopper limits, log access, platform-specific reports, and asset information, including software and hardware bills of material. Preferably, the gaming platforms include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: Alpha, S6000, and Game Maker 2.

In accordance with another preferred aspect, the configuration and management system enables modification of multiple compatible gaming platforms to enable selection of game theme, game percentage payout, and game play denominations through the use of serial commands. In one embodiment, the configuration and management system identifies available configuration and control capabilities (e.g., gaming parameters) in each interconnected gaming device, and targets the configurable and controllable capabilities remotely using a serial-based protocol or a packet-based protocol. Preferably, the gaming parameters include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: game theme, game percentage payout, and game play denominations.

In accordance with another preferred aspect, the interactive map in graphical user interface includes multiple selectable layers, wherein each layer displays a different category of information. Preferably, the layers correspond to categories of information that include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: occupancy level, level of handle, sound level, heat level, accounting, and performance measurements. In one preferred embodiment, the interactive map in graphical user interface translates into a multi-dimensional graphic form that includes geographic location information. Preferably, the geographic location information includes, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: country, state, facility, and gaming floor position. In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the interactive map in graphical user interface includes multiple selectable tabs that control other systems and devices including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: SDG, SDS, ACSC, Mcc, MindPlay, and CMP.

In a preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system, the multiple selectable tabs of the interactive map are associated with at least gaming floor analysis, network management, and player marketing. In specific, non-limiting embodiment, the interactive map in graphical user interface utilizes multiple colors to emphasize information. For example, in one embodiment, the multiple colors represent values including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: high, low, medium, empty, and full. In one aspect of a preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system configures gaming devices using game combinations, wherein the game combinations include company/location/cabinet/theme/percentage/denomination. Preferably, each game combination controlled and managed by the configuration and management system is associated with corresponding configurations, assets, and logs.

In a preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system, the system enables configuration and management of device parameters that are multi-platform, multi-theme, multi-percentage, and multi-denomination. Preferably, the configuration and management system enables downloading code to the gaming devices, and wherein the code is advertising content, an entire new game title, a game update, an operating system update, or combinations thereof. In one preferred embodiment, the code is downloaded into an escrow area where the code cannot affect game play until after a successful authentication process has been performed.

In one aspect of a preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system further comprising a distribution management server. In one embodiment, the server enables point-to-point distribution management utilizing a portable computing device connects to a single gaming device or a small number of gaming devices. In another embodiment, the server enables property-based distribution management by utilizing the server to control up to all of the gaming devices at a single property. In still another embodiment, the server enables wide area network distribution management by utilizing the server to control thousands of gaming devices that are interconnected via a combination of broadband networks and dial up facilities.

In one aspect of a preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system includes both system management capabilities and operating system capabilities. In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system enables web-based communications, access to platform-specific logs and reports, and downloading of code and advertising content. Preferably, the configuration and management system enables platform-specific control and auditing of system configurations. In one preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system includes data analysis tools, scheduling capabilities, and messaging resources for sending messages to the gaming system. Preferably, the configuration and management system includes links to expanded systems offerings and network management capabilities. Otherwise stated, the configuration and management system acts as a portal through which system administers have access to multiple properties services.

In a preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system enables control of game code, game data, and game configuration. Preferably, the configuration and management system enables controlling and managing of multiple different gaming platforms from multiple different platform manufacturers. In one embodiment, the configuration and management system includes a directory structure and filing system that is implemented for game theme tables, gaming platform configuration, and access logs.

In one preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system further comprising a distribution management component that transmits data from a backend server to the gaming floor via otherwise unused network bandwidth. In this manner, the data is transmitted without adversely affecting gaming related transactions. Preferably, the distribution management component of the configuration and management system enables downloading large files of bulk data while game play is in progress. In a preferred embodiment, the distribution management component of the configuration and management system enables schedule-able and monitor-able data transmission. In one aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming platform and network load combine to determine proper time and speed for transmission of data to take place. Preferably, the distribution management component of the configuration and management system enables download scheduling, ensures no bandwidth impact, enables progress reporting, and guarantees delivery, setup, and management of data transmission.

In another preferred embodiment, the claimed invention is directed towards a method for monitoring and controlling one or more gaming devices in a gaming system using a configuration and management system, wherein the system comprises a processing and control system and a server-side, graphical user interface that includes an interactive map of the gaming floor. The method includes: enabling identification of configuration and control capabilities available in each gaming device in the gaming system using the interactive map in the graphical user interface; enabling the identified configurable and controllable capabilities of the gaming devices to be targeted for modification using the graphical user interface; and enabling configuration of multiple gaming platform capabilities, multiple game titles, and multiple gaming parameters for each gaming devices on the gaming floor using the graphical user interface.

In still another preferred embodiment, the claimed invention is directed towards a method for performing yield analysis modification on one or more gaming machines in a gaming system in response to gaming performance data. The method includes: acquiring gaming performance data from one or more gaming machines in a gaming system; performing yield analysis calculations using the gaming performance data, in response to the yield analysis calculations, determining a desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines; notifying any current players of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines; and modifying one or more gaming parameters of one or more gaming machines in response to the yield analysis calculations, wherein modifying one or more gaming parameters facilitates achieving a desired profitability level.

In one preferred embodiment, the method further comprising: receiving authorization from any current players of acceptance of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines. Preferably, notifying any current players of the desired modification comprises: an audio announcement of the desired modification. In another embodiment, notifying any current players of the desired modification comprises: a visual announcement of the desired modification. Preferably, the notifying any current players of the desired modification is maintained for at least one game play cycle. Additionally, in another aspect of a preferred embodiment, a current player that has been notified of the desired modification is provided with a finite number of game play cycles to play using current gaming parameters before the desired modification to the gaming parameters is automatically implemented.

In one preferred embodiment, the gaming performance data includes, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: slot accounting data, multi-game cabinet accounting data, player tracking data, hotel data, point of sale system data, location data, game mix nearby data, entertainment data, weather data, off site user group demographic data, and groupings of players data. In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming parameters include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: theme; wager, including minimum bet, maximum bet, and minimum line bet; denomination; percentage payout; and play time, including spin cycle time and bonus round time. Additionally, in still another preferred embodiment, yield analysis and predictive analysis results are displayed using a graphical user interface that presents a map of the gaming floor.

In one preferred embodiment, gaming performance data and yield analysis calculations are used in combination with individual player performance tracking data to provide each player with unique game play characteristics. In this regard, gaming performance data and yield analysis calculations are used in combination with individual player performance tracking data to enable customization of the game theme offerings specific to each individual player. Preferably, gaming performance data and yield analysis calculations are used in combination with individual player performance tracking data to enable individualized game characterization, game control, and game promotions.

In another preferred embodiment, the claimed invention is directed towards a method for modifying existing casino profitability levels to facilitate approximation of desired casino profitability levels. The method includes: acquiring yield analysis information associated with one or more gaming machines in a gaming system, wherein the yield analysis information is associated with an existing casino profitability level, determining a desired modification to one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines providing the yield analysis information; notifying players of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines; and modifying one or more gaming parameters of the one or more gaming machines in response to the yield analysis information, wherein modifying one or more gaming parameters facilitates achieving a desired casino profitability level. In one preferred embodiment, a casino operator is provided with the yield analysis information (and possibly modification options as well) and makes a determination as to how and/or whether to implement modification options to facilitate approximation of desired casino profitability levels.

In still another preferred embodiment, the claimed invention is directed towards a system for facilitating achieving a desired casino profitability level. The system includes: one or more gaming machines in a gaming system, a gaming performance data acquisition system, a processing system, and a notification system. Preferably, the one or more gaming machines in a gaming system and the gaming performance data acquisition system are interconnected via a communication link. The gaming performance data acquisition system obtains gaming performance data from the one or more gaming machines in the gaming system. The processing system performs yield analysis calculations using the gaming performance data to determine an existing casino profitability level. Additionally, the processing system uses the yield analysis calculations to determine and implement a desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines. Further, the processing system modifies one or more gaming parameters to facilitate achieving a desired casino profitability level. Lastly, the notification system notifies players of the desired modification in one or more gaming parameters of the gaming machines.

Other features and advantages of the claimed invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate by way of example, the features of the claimed invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a relational diagram of a gaming-content configuration and management system for controlling and managing a gaming system that includes gaming devices on a casino floor connected through networking equipment to multiple tiers of servers on the casino backend, wherein the operators to manage the gaming floor from a computer via a graphical user interface;

FIG. 2 illustrates a map of the casino gaming floor via the graphical user interface of the gaming-content configuration and management system;

FIG. 3 illustrates another view of a map of the casino gaming floor via the graphical user interface of the gaming-content configuration and management system; and

FIG. 4 illustrates a relational diagram of protocols implemented by a gaming-content configuration and management system for controlling and managing a gaming system that includes gaming devices on a casino floor connected through networking equipment to multiple tiers of servers on the casino backend.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Briefly stated, a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system is directed towards configuring and managing a scalable number of gaming devices using a centrally-connected user interface. The system configures and manages components that are multi-platform, multi-theme, multi-percentage, and multi-denomination. These gaming devices include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation, electronic gaming machines (EGMs); embedded components, such as GMUs (Game Monitoring Units); and/or player tracking user interfaces (referred to sometimes herein as iView devices or Alpha devices). Such gaming devices further include any uniquely identifiable entity on the gaming floor, including by way of example only, and not by way of limitation, gaming-related signage and kiosks.

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like or corresponding parts throughout the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1-4, there is shown a preferred embodiment of gaming-content configuration and management system 10. Specifically, FIGS. 1 and 2 show a gaming-content configuration and management system 10 that enables configuration; management, and delivery of content on a game floor 40 from a computer 50 via a graphical user interface 70.

In a preferred embodiment, the system 10 is responsible for the configuration, management, and download of code 20 (i.e., content) to gaming devices 30 (e.g., gaming machines, gaming machine component, system components, network components, kiosks, signage, gaming-related devices, and the like) on the gaming floors 40 of incorporated gaming venues. Preferably, such gaming venues include casinos, Class II venues, and lottery venues. In one preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, gaming machines 30 and system components are incorporated into a broadband-networked gaming floor 40, instead of operating independently (or quasi-independently) as stand-alone platforms and basic monitoring systems.

As briefly mentioned above, in one preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 enables operators to manage the gaming floor 40 from a desktop computer 50 (or other portable computer or hand held device) via a graphical user interface 70 on the computer. Preferably, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is capable of administrating gaming floors 40 ranging in size from a single slot floor to a worldwide gaming enterprise. In a preferred embodiment, the system 10 administrates gaming devices 30 on floors 40 that are multi-platform 60, multi-theme, multi-percentage, and multi-denomination. Otherwise stated, in such an embodiment, each of the gaming devices 30 (or at least some gaming devices 30) incorporate multiple game platforms 60, incorporate multiple game titles (stored locally or remotely), are capable of being configured to generate multiple different payout percentages, and are capable of offering multiple different monetary denominations for game play. Central management of all these gaming options is enabled from the graphical user interface 70.

Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, a graphical user interface 70 is accessible via a gaming floor operator's computer 50. In such an embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, a graphical user interface 70 displays a map 74 of the slot floor 40. Preferably, this map 74 of slot floor 40 includes multiple selectable layers 80. Gaming-related information is organized by layer 80; with each layer displaying a different category of gaming-related information. In one specific, non-limiting embodiment, a first layer 80 displayed on the graphical user interface 70 shows game themes (i.e., game titles) that are currently populating the slot floor 40. Preferably, each game theme is emphasized with a distinct color in order to differentiate one game theme from another game theme. Continuing, in this specific, non-limiting embodiment, a second layer 80 of the map 74 displays information that relates to device volume settings. In this manner, each layer 80 displayed on the graphical user interface 70 presents different gaming related information including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation, coin-in activity, coin-out activity, meters, other accounting information, security information, and player rating information.

A preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 presents customers with a consistent, intuitive, front-end interface 70 to all incorporated gaming devices 30. Preferably, tabs at the bottom of the graphical user interface 70 direct the operator from the configuration manager screen to other screens that control backside servers and/or services including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: MCC server 90, SDG server 92, CMP server 94, MindPlay server 96, SDS server 98, ACSC server 100, and the like. In a preferred embodiment, the graphical user interface 70 for the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is an “entry point” (i.e., front-end interface) for all incorporated gaming devices 30. As such, the graphical user interface 70 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 provides a consistent “look and feel” for the operator as they use associated products. This same look and feel of the graphical user interface 70 is expandable over time to include various methods of user access to other categories of information, such as accounting, cage, and security across all back office servers (e.g., MCC server 90, SDG server 92, CMP server 94, MindPlay server 96, SDS server 98, ACSC server 100, and the like).

Within each gaming platform 60 (e.g., Alpha, S6000, Game Maker 2, EVO3, and the like) the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 enables control of game theme (i.e., game title), game percentage payout, and game denomination. Thus, the configuration and management system 10 is able to control and manage a multi-platform 60, multi-theme, multi-percentage, and multi-denomination gaming floor 40. Additionally, a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 also includes platform-specific control over functions such as the volume setting of the device, speed of play, hopper limits, and the like. Moreover, in a preferred embodiment, these functions further include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: access to logs, platform-specific reports, and asset information (e.g., software and hardware bills of material).

Thus, the configuration and management system 10 is capable of controlling game selection and gaming-related parameters, as well as controlling platform-specific functions. In a preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, each gaming platform 60 has uniquely-controllable configurations, and the system 10 is capable of providing configuration and management control specific to each gaming platform 60. For example, the S6000 platform 60 sets and controls options in a different manner than the Alpha platform 60. In this regard, an Alpha platform 60 may have multiple methods for option setting (e.g., the platform may have a method for setting options for Class II gaming that is different from the method for setting options for Class III gaming). However, the configuration and management system 10 is capable of providing configuration and management control specific to each gaming platform 60.

In a preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 merges the capabilities of commercial system management products with the capabilities of commercial operating systems (e.g., Linux®, Windows®, or the like). Further, in one preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is utilized in combination with the current SAS protocol, serial-based communication infrastructure. In one such embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 employs several previously un-implemented poll codes contained in the SAS6.01 protocol. A preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, which utilizes this SAS protocol, serial-based communication network, (or similar non-SAS protocol, serial-based communication network) is referred to as Phase 1 of the configuration and management system 10.

In another preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, an IP-based (or other packet-based) communication network is implemented, which connects the gaming devices 30 in the system. An IP-based message set utilizes an interface layer between command-driven devices and logical communication channels. This embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, which utilizes an IP-based (or other packet-based) network format, is referred to as Phase 2 of the configuration and management system 10. In one specific, non-limiting embodiment of a Phase 2 system 10, the SuperSAS protocol is implemented as the communication protocol. In another specific, non-limiting embodiment of a Phase 2 system 10, a different packet-based protocol (or other event-driven communication) is implemented as the communication protocol (TCP/IP, Frame Relay, and the like).

Referring again to Phase 1 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, in one preferred embodiment, the system modifies various platforms 60 (Alpha, S6000, GameMaker2) to enable selection of game theme (i.e., game title), game payout percentage, and game play denominations through the use of SAS6.01 commands. This configuration process enables platform-specific control over specific platform capabilities including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: volume setting of the device, speed of play, hopper limits, and the like.

In a preferred embodiment of Phase 1 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the system identifies the configuration and control capabilities available in each gaming device 30, and targets those controllable capabilities remotely using the SAS6 protocol (or other non-SAS serial-based protocol). After identifying and targeting the available configuration and control capabilities, this protocol enables an administrator to configure and manage the existing systems, networks, gaming devices 30, and platforms 60 (e.g., NT+, Gearbox, MC250, GameNet, Alpha, Game Maker II, S6000, Mcc-Axiomtek, and SDG game controller).

Preferably, in the Phase 1 version of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the SAS6 configuration control “long polls” are implemented on all platforms 60. Additionally, any integrated networks and systems are modified to send these poll codes. Further, the graphic user interface 70 in the system 10 is configured to control these poll codes.

Specifically, targeted SAS6 poll codes include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: (A) Shutdown (lock out play); (B) Startup (enable play); (C) Sound off (all sounds disabled); (D) Sound on (all sounds enabled); (E) Reel spin sound disabled; (F) Enable bill acceptor; (G) Disable bill acceptor; (H) Configure bill denomination; (I) Enable/disable game n; (J) Set sound volume; (H) Play sound; (L) Enable/disable real time reporting; (M) Send gaming machine ID# & information; (N) ROM signature verification; (0) Send EFT log; (P) Send current hopper status; (Q) Send total number of games implemented; (R) Send game n configuration; (S) Send SAS version ID, gaming serial no.; (T) Send selected game number; (U) Send enabled game numbers; (V) Send authentication info; (W) Send current date and time; (X) Receive general ASCII message; (Y) Simulate user input; (Z) Send enabled features; (AA) Send cash out limit; (BB) Enable/disable game auto rebet; (CC) Send extended game n info; (DD) Send enabled player denominations; and (EE) Send extended game n info. Additionally, there are SAS general poll exception commands, such as: (A) Operator changed options (configuration options); (B) System validation request; and (C) Game locked.

Referring now to Phase 2 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the Phase 2 system transitions from using SAS6 protocols (or other serial-based network format) to instead utilizing broadband communications (e.g., Ethernet, TCP/IP, or other packet-based network format). The Phase 2 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 also enables: (1) web-based communications (e.g., BOB, SuperSAS, and the like), (2) access to logs and reports specific to the platform, and (3) downloading of new code and advertising content. Preferably, a SMS (Systems Management Server) client agent is also added to the platforms 60 in Phase 2 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10.

In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, Phase 2 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 also includes the control and auditing of system configurations. For example, the reporting and settings options in a SDS server 98 are typically different than settings options in an MCC server 90, SDG server 92, or ACSC server 100. However, a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is able to control and audit each of these system configurations. In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, an iView device 30 is controlled by the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, which has setup and control options that are unique in each of the NT, Kontron board, and Mcc implementation.

In a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, platforms 60 include Ethernet hardware, TCP/IP stacks, http stacks, SOAP (or the proprietary layer SuperSAS), and XML handling capability. Preferably, system management client agents for each platform and each system are employed. In one preferred embodiment, these elements are added to each platform and are “hooked” into the platform code in order to tie XML messages to game logic. In another aspect of one preferred embodiment that utilizes on Alpha platform 60, a SMS client for Linux is implemented in order to support the Alpha platform.

Referring again more specifically to FIGS. 2 and 3, in a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the graphical user interface 70 displays the slot floor (or multiple slot floors) to the gaming floor administrators on their computers 50. Specifically, the graphical user interface 70 preferably presents a map 74 of the gaming floor and incorporates the use of selectable layers 80 (for organizing information) and colors (for emphasizing information). The layers 80 are selectable in order to present various types of information by layer, including by way of example only, and not by way of information: occupancy, level of handle, sound level, heat, accounting, and performance measurements.

In one preferred embodiment, the graphical user interface 70 is extended to incorporate all user input screens. In this manner, users have a consistent “front-end” experience when working with any of the included user input screens, such as for the cage, accounting, security, and the like.

In one preferred embodiment of the Phase 1 system 10, information obtained from gaming devices 30 on the floor by the SAS6 protocol (or other suitable protocol) is translated by the graphical user interface 70 into a multi-dimensional graphic form that includes geographic location (e.g., country, state, facility, slot floor position, and the like) and value (e.g., hi, lo, medium, empty, full, and the like) which are preferably represented by different colors. As mentioned above, in a preferred embodiment, the graphical user interface 70 includes information on available game themes, game payout percentages, and available game play denominations. Further, the graphical user interface 70 not only displays this information, but also enables an operator to configure the gaming devices 30 on the gaming floor remotely from a computer 50 via the graphical user interface. In this manner, the graphical user interface 70 enables an operator to select a single gaming device 30, or a group of gaming devices 30, and change their configuration (theme, percentage, denomination, and the like). Additionally, the graphical user interface 70 preferably enables the scheduling of changes. Other configuration setting provided by SAS6 (or other suitable protocol) and the platforms 60 are also presentable and configurable via the graphical user interface 70.

In a preferred embodiment, the graphical user interface 70 of the Phase 1 system 10 is an analysis program that provides front-end, user interface functionality including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: data analysis tools, scheduling capabilities, and messaging resources for sending messages back to the slot system. In comparison, the graphical user interface 70 of the Phase 2 system 10 adds links into each of the expanded back office server offerings (e.g., MCC server 90, SDG server 92, CMP server 94, MindPlay server 96, SDS server 98, ACSC server 100, and the like), as well as network management capabilities. This graphical user interface 70 also enables expansion to other applications. Otherwise stated, the graphical user interface 70 of the Phase 2 system 10 becomes a “portal” through which casino executives have access to all properties services. In one specific, non-limiting preferred embodiment, a first tab is associated with slot floor analysis; a second tab is associated with network management (linking the user to a network management software application such as HP OpenView); a third tab is associated with whichever expanded system offerings (i.e., back office servers) the customer has implemented on the slot floor system (e.g., MCC server 90, SDG server 92, CMP server 94, MindPlay server 96, SDS server 98, ACSC server 100, and the like); and a fourth tab is associated with CMP (or SMS) for player marketing. In one preferred embodiment, the graphical user interface 70 is further expandable to include hospitality and POS links.

In a preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 performs content management of game code, data, and configuration. A preferred embodiment of a gaming-content configuration and management system 10 accommodates slot floor (or entire corporate organization) having from hundreds to tens of thousands of gaming devices 30. Further, a preferred system 10 is capable of controlling and managing multiple platforms 60 from multiple platform manufacturers. Additionally, a preferred system 10 is capable of controlling and managing multiple themes (i.e., game titles) on each platform 60. Moreover, a preferred system 10 is capable of controlling and managing multiple percentages and multiple denominations for each theme. In a preferred embodiment, each combination of “company/location/cabinet/theme/percentage/denomination” is defined herein as a gaming combination. In a preferred embodiment of a gaming-content configuration and management system 10, each gaming combination has a configuration that needs to be stored, monitored, and managed. Additionally, each gaming combination that is controlled and managed by the system 10 has associated configurations, assets, and logs. All of this data is stored and organized by the system 10 to provide users, regulators, and company personnel with access, management, and control capabilities.

In a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the process for signing content 20 is supported through the use of the SAS6 protocol (or other similar protocol). Preferably, the process for signing content 20 leverages the capabilities of the iView content signing procedures. Additionally, in a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, a directory structure and filing system is implemented for game theme tables, platform options settings (configuration), and access logs that are enabled in SAS6. In one preferred embodiment, Microsoft Sharepoint Server is utilized as the directory structure and filing system. Preferably, Microsoft Server 2003 (or higher) is the server operating system (OS) for the gaming-content configuration and management system 10.

In a preferred embodiment of the Phase 2 system 10, all content 20 (e.g., platform OS code, game theme code, platform options-configuration, logs by cabinet, advertising content-skins, and the like) is securely stored at a level sufficient to satisfy gaming regulators. These security measures include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation, physical security requirements, access requirements, logging requirements, and update requirements. In a preferred embodiment of the Phase 2 system 10, the procedure for authenticating code 20 with gaming regulations is to require a server to meet the same compliance requirement as a gaming device 30. In this manner, the server (and contained code) is subject to corresponding gaming device regulations. For content 20 such as options-configurations and advertising content (e.g., skins), an authentication procedure is implemented that links the production of new content into storage and subsequent authentication signing.

In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 further includes a distribution management component. Briefly stated, the distribution management component transmits bulk data from a backend server to the gaming floor. Movement of large files to particular platforms 60 on the floor must be performed without disrupting the primary use of the gaming floor (i.e., making money through the support of gaming related transactions). Thus, large files of bulk data are moved “in the background” over otherwise unused network bandwidth so as not to adversely affect gaming related transactions.

Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, platforms 60 (i.e., clients) and systems (i.e., servers) are capable of downloading large files of bulk data while game play is in progress. Preferably, this download process is schedule-able and monitor-able using the distribution management component. Typically, downloading of large files (or upload of large files such as logs) takes a large amount of time (on the order of days). In a preferred embodiment, the download is performed at the request of the client (i.e., the platform 60). As such, the client and network load combine to determine the proper time and speed for a download (or upload) to take place. In a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the server accommodates download scheduling, ensures minimal bandwidth impact, enables progress reporting, and guarantees delivery, as well as setup and management of the download (or upload) process.

In a preferred embodiment of the Phase 1 system 10, floor control is limited to the configuration changes that are possible through SAS (or other equivalent protocol). As such there is no additional distribution management functionality in the Phase 1 system 10. However, the broadband networking utilized in a preferred embodiment of the Phase 2 system 10 does implement distribution management features. In one preferred embodiment, when the content 20 is stored on alterable media (e.g., a local hard drive, FLASH memory, and the like) in the platform 60 (Alpha, iView, Game Maker II, and the like), command protocols such as GSA BOB v1.01 can be used for enabling and disabling gaming combination. In one preferred embodiment of the Phase 2 system 10, operators are able to modify these configuration elements (i.e., gaming combinations) in real time. In one specific, non-limiting embodiment, the server communicates in the GSA BOB v1.01 command protocol to the slot floor.

Continuing, in a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, distribution management includes, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: (1) the act of downloading new advertising content 20 to an iView device 30 or gaming platform 60 (2) sending down code 20 or operating system updates, and (3) sending down a new game theme (i.e., game title). New game themes are typically large files that can range from around 400 Kilo-bytes to over 4 Giga-bytes in size. Code updates are typically smaller files that range from around 20 Kilo-bytes to 400 Mbytes in size.

In one specific, non-limiting embodiment, a slot director uses the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 to schedule a download (or upload) and check on the progress of the download. For example, in one scenario, the system 10 rolls out a large new game theme across a casino floor to several hundred cabinets 30 over several days. Downloading such a game theme “in the background” to a gaming machine fulfills Class III regulations, provided that (1) the content 20 is downloaded into an “escrow” area where the content cannot affect game play, and (2) an authentication process is performed on the newly-downloaded content. In some situations, installation and use of the downloaded theme/content 20 may require physical intervention, an initiating event, and/or approval to fulfill Class III regulations (e.g., using a key switch, BKEY, or the like), depending upon the jurisdiction.

In one preferred embodiment, an initiating event includes, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: (1) no credits on the game meters, (2) no activity at the game, game play, button pushes, card-ins, printing, and the like, (3) a period of time with no activity at the game, (e.g., 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or the like), (4) a key insertion or card insertion by an employee, (5) accessing of a special setup screen on the game by an authorized person, (6) touching a button or activation point on the screen in response to a message saying the new code is ready to load, (7) a button push or activation by an operator on the casino backend, (8) a tie-in to a video system to confirm there is no player at the game and the initiation can take place, (9) a biometric entry at the game or at the system that authorizes initiation of the code, and (10) a key opening and BKey (electronic key) entry to authorize installation or reconfiguration of the software.

In one preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the distribution management is performed using Microsoft SMS on the server, iView device 30, and Game Maker II side. In another preferred embodiment, WBEM (Web Based Enterprise Management) is implemented, which provides an open-source option for LINUX, AIX, UNIX, AS400, and homegrown clients. The distribution management abilities of the configuration and management system 10 enable other game manufacturers or system manufacturers to be monitored and controlled by the management server of the system 10, which is typically required for lottery and casino monitoring systems. Additionally, the distribution management client software utilized in the system 10 is adaptable and/or accessible to other manufacturers.

As mentioned above, in a preferred embodiment of the system 10, a key feature of distribution management is to ensure availability of the network for gaming transactions (i.e., device management may not dominate the bandwidth of the network). Another important aspect of a preferred embodiment is flexibility in the deployment of distribution management system and scalability of the system. Otherwise stated, the ability to use the same distribution management system in multiple situations. Such situations include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: (1) a point-to-point distribution management situation in which a laptop (or other portable computing device) connects to a single device 30 or a small number of devices; (2) a property-based distribution management situation in which the management server controls a single property (with anywhere from 100 to 30,000 devices 30 in a local installation), and (3) a wide area network distribution management situation in which hundreds to thousands of devices 30 are connected over a combination broadband network and/or dial-up facilities.

In one preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the data transport is a switched, managed IP network of at least 100 Mbps. Preferably, each endpoint in the network is monitor-able and controllable. With respect to another preferred embodiment, the distribution management system operates over a data transport based upon POTS (plain old telephone system).

Referring now to another aspect of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the device management component is the client companion component to the distribution management component discussed above. One preferred embodiment, the system 10 utilizes a common server-based distribution engine that communicates with a wide range of “clients” including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: the LINUX-based Alpha platform; the CE-based iView platform; the XPe based Game Maker II platform; and other proprietary platform operating systems (e.g., QNX, home grown, and the like). The device management component of gaming-content configuration and management system 10, also includes systems products, including by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: Windows server, AIX, UNIX and AS400.

In one preferred embodiment, since the Phase 1 system 10 enables floor control through configuration changes in SAS protocol (or other equivalent protocol), all current platforms 60 are configured to respond to these SAS poll codes. As such, in the Phase 1 system 10 poll codes are implemented and/or modified in their response as needed.

Referring now to the Phase 2 system 10, in one preferred embodiment Microsoft SMS provides all of the necessary client components. In another preferred embodiment, WBEM (Web Based Enterprise Management) is implemented, which provides an open-source option for LINUX, AIX, UNIX, and AS400 clients.

In preferred embodiments of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, the network infrastructure differs depending on whether Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the system is being implemented. In a preferred embodiment of the Phase 1 system 10, the system is implemented over existing networks using SAS poll codes (or another equivalent protocol). In a preferred embodiment of the Phase 2 system 10, the system is implemented over a broadband network and employs new message protocols (e.g., BOB, SuperSAS, or the like). In one preferred embodiment, the network is constructed using copper or fiber optics. Additionally, the network may include wireless, VPN, and/or long-haul components. In a preferred embodiment, the system 10 uses a fully-switched network in which each port (down to the individual terminal 30, game, platform 60, and/or iView device 30) is monitored and controlled.

Due to increasing threats from hacking and other security issues, gaming regulations in Class 3 jurisdictions dictate the use of strong cryptographic authentication of code running on gaming platforms. As such, a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 has adopted cryptography and security standards in order to help ensure operational efficiency and inter-operability with other products. In this regard, PKI (public key infrastructure) is the root of a common, systematic approach to security and authentication for the configuration and management system 10. In a preferred embodiment, code 20 is signed and authenticated on platforms 60 using a root authority with subsidiaries that meet the highest cryptographic standards and employ industry standards.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 4, the iView device 30 of a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is shown. Prior to the advent of the iView device (described above), gaming regulators would have been unwilling to allow casino operators to design their own content. However, due to the cryptographic technology implemented by the embedded processor in the iView device 30, a certification process is provided by the system 10 with sufficient security for gaming regulators to allow casino operators to design their own content. Specifically, in one preferred embodiment, the certification process offered ensures authentication and non-repudiation of the casino operator designed web content. Preferably, in the configuration and management system 10, the certification process provided further ensures auditability and traceability. Various cryptographic technologies, such as authentication and non-repudiation (described herein below), are utilized in preferred embodiments of the claimed invention, to provide sufficient security for gaming regulators to allow casino operators to design their own content.

In one preferred embodiment, this certification process is used to certify “signed content” (created by the casino owners) in the same manner that a “signed program” is certified. Preferably, PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) is utilized in the certification process. PKI is a system of digital certificates, Certificate Authorities, and other registration authorities that verify authenticity and validity. In one preferred embodiment, a “new tier” or derivative PKI is created that is rooted in the primary PKI and that leverages the capabilities of the certificate (e.g., a x509 certificate) that allow for limited access. Thus, this preferred embodiment allows the attributes within the certificate to be used to provide “levels” of code access and acceptance in the gaming industry.

In one embodiment, the content is protected by digital signature verification using DSA (Digital Signature Algorithm) or RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) technology. In this regard, the content is preferably protected using digital signature verification so that any unauthorized changes are easily identifiable. A digital signature is the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature in that it binds a trusted authority's identity to a piece of information. A digital signature scheme typically consists of a signature creation algorithm and an associated verification algorithm. The digital signature creation algorithm is used to produce a digital signature. The digital signature verification algorithm is used to verify that a digital signature is authentic (i.e., that it was indeed created by the specified entity). In another embodiment, the content is protected using other suitable technology.

In one preferred embodiment, a Secure Hash Function-1 (SHA-1), or better, is used to compute a 160-bit hash value from the data content or firmware contents. This 160-bit hash value, which is also called an abbreviated bit string, is then processed to create a signature of the game data using a one-way, private signature key technique, called Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA). The DSA uses a private key of a private key/public key pair, and randomly or pseudo-randomly generated integers, to produce a 320-bit signature of the 160-bit hash value of the data content or firmware contents. This signature is stored in the database in addition to the identification number.

In another preferred embodiment, the claimed invention utilizes a Message Authentication Code (MAC). A Message Authentication Code is a specific type of message digest in which a secret key is included as part of the fingerprint. Whereas a normal digest consists of a hash (data), the MAC consists of a hash (key+data). Thus, a MAC is a bit string that is a function of both data (either plaintext or ciphertext) and a secret key. A Message Authentication Code is attached to data in order to allow data authentication. Further, a MAC may be used to simultaneously verify both the data integrity and the authenticity of a message. Typically, a Message Authentication Code (MAC) is a one-way hash function that takes as input both a symmetric key and some data. A symmetric-key algorithm is an algorithm for cryptography that uses the same cryptographic key to encrypt and decrypt the message.

A Message Authentication Code can be generated faster than using digital signature verification technology; however, a Message Authentication Code is not as robust as digital signature verification technology. Thus, when speed of processing is critical, the use of a Message Authentication Code provides an advantage, because it can be created and stored more rapidly than digital signature verification technology.

In one preferred embodiment, the authentication technique utilized is a BKEY (electronic key) device. A BKEY is an electronic identifier that is tied to a particular trusted authority. In this manner, any adding, accessing, or modification of content that is made using a BKEY for authentication is linked to the specific trusted authority to which that BKEY is associated. Accordingly, an audit trail is thereby established for regulators and/or other entities that require this kind of data or system authentication.

Another preferred embodiment of the verification system utilizes “component bindings” for verification using cryptographic security. In component binding, some components come equipped with unalterable serial numbers. Additionally, components such as web content or the game cabinet may also be given another random identification number by the owner. Other components in the system, such as the CMOS memory in the motherboard, the hard drive, and the non-volatile RAM, are also issued random identification numbers. When all or some of these numbers are secured together collectively in a grouping, this protected grouping is referred to as a “binding.” Each component of the machine contains its portion of the binding.

In one such preferred embodiment, every critical log entry made to the content is signed with a Hashed Message Authorization Code (HMAC) that is based on the entry itself, and on the individual binding codes. In this manner, the security produced by the bindings ensures that log entries that are made cannot be falsified or repudiated.

After the critical gaming and/or system components are selected, given individual identifiers, and combined into a protected grouping that is secured using the component “bindings,” any changes to those components will then be detected, authorized, and logged. For example, content within the binding is digitally signed (SHA-1) using the key derived from the bindings. This signature is verified whenever an entry is made to a component within the binding. If the signature is wrong, this security violation and the violator are noted, but typically the entry is not prohibited. In other embodiments, the entry may be prohibited as well. Thus, the component binding produces a cryptographic audit trail of the trusted authority making changes to any of the components within the binding.

Moreover, bindings ensure that the critical components of a gaming machine system, or the content utilized therein, that have been selected to be components within the binding have not been swapped or altered in an unauthorized manner. Preferably, bindings use unique identification numbers that are assigned to vital parts of the gaming platform including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: the cabinet, motherboard, specific software, non-volatile RAM card, content (data), and hard drive. These identification numbers combined in a cryptographic manner to form a “binding” that protects and virtually encloses the included components, such that no component within the binding can be modified, removed, or replaced without creating an audit trail and requiring authentication. Thus, for one of these components within the binding to be changed, appropriate authentication is required and a log file entry is made documenting the activity and the identity of the trusted authority making the change. In one preferred embodiment, a specific level of BKEY clearance or classification is required to make specific changes.

As briefly described above, gaming devices 30 also includes signage and kiosks, in addition to gaming machines, GMUs, and iView devices. In this regard, gaming-related signage relates to advertising signage that is typically in a reconfigurable electronic format. In this context, gaming-related kiosks are machines that provide gaming-related service but do not provide actual game play itself. Gaming-related kiosks may include both patron-oriented services and maintenance-oriented features. In one embodiment, patron-oriented services include the ability to sign on to rewards services, view account status and history, redeem payout tickets and promotional “comps,” request help from an attendant, order drinks, make dinner reservations, reserve taxis, purchase show tickets, conduct banking transactions, and the like. Maintenance-oriented features include providing information such as coin-in, coin-out, malfunctions, jackpots, tilt conditions, game software version, and the like.

As described below, an iView device is an embedded additional user interface, which is preferably integrated into a gaming machine and acts to increase user excitement by providing a richer gaming experience. An embedded additional user interface provides enhanced player satisfaction and excitement, as well as improved gaming device reliability, interactivity, flexibility, security, and accountability. The user interface is sometimes referred to herein as “additional” in that the user interface is separate from the gaming screen (or other gaming presentation). Further, the user interface is sometimes referred to herein as “embedded” in that the user interface includes its own processor in some preferred embodiments.

In one preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 contains a datastore that includes, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: a relational database, object database, a flat file, an ASCII list, registry entries, an XML file, a “collection” (i.e., in a SQL (structured query language) environment, a collection of parameter defined data in an object database), or any other type of commonly known data listing. In such a preferred embodiment, the computer datastore enables the system 10 to sort gaming devices 30 by feature, whether the gaming devices are electronic gaming machines (EGMs), GMUs, iViews (embedded additional user interfaces), or any other uniquely identifiable entity on the gaming floor. In one aspect of a preferred embodiment, the gaming devices 30 being tracked and/or sorted include a download feature that is sortable according to: (a) the make/model of the gaming device that the download feature is associated therewith, (b) the device's hardware revision, (c) the device's firmware revision, (d) the physical location of the gaming device on the property, (e) zoning of the gaming device (e.g., high roller zone), (f) game type (e.g., mechanical, electrical, dual screen, and the like), (g) dynamic gaming state or state change (e.g., payout, malfunction, “game in use,” offline, tilt, jackpot mode, turned off, authentication failure, security breach, downloading content, installing content, and the like), (h) IP (Internet Protocol) address or (i) other suitable sorting feature.

In one exemplary embodiment, all gaming devices 30 in a particular group can then be targeted for a specific code download. Accordingly, in one specific embodiment, all GMUs with a particular code revision can be identified and upgraded while those GMUs outside of the group are ignored. In another example, all iView devices installed into gaming machines that are located in a particular physical location on the property (i.e., a particular bank of games) are identified, and receive downloaded content which is then authenticated, after which they are reconfigured. Meanwhile, all of the iView devices outside of that grouping are ignored.

As mentioned above, the computer datastore of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is capable of utilizing these sorting and grouping capabilities for the purpose of inventory management. In this regard, a property (e.g. casino) is able to maintain up-to-date information on gaming floor inventory for a multitude of inventory parameters. These inventory parameters include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation, the name of the iView device, the hardware revision of the iView device, the firmware revision of the iView device, the content of the iView device, the make/model of the GMU, the hardware revision of the GMU, the firmware revision of the GMU, the make/model of the gaming machine, the hardware revision of the gaming machine, the firmware revision of the gaming machine, and the physical location of the gaming machine.

In one preferred embodiment, the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 either queries the datastore containing all of the gaming device inventory data. The gaming-content configuration and management system 10 then sorts the data according to one or more user-input parameters. After the sorting has occurred, the user can, for example, download new content 20 to the iView devices, once the devices have been identified and targeted.

In a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10, since the device data resides on a central computer datastore, standard binary datastore searches can be performed to produce specifically desired reports. However, in one preferred embodiment, a distributed datastore is used instead of a centralized datastore. In one particular example, an analyst may be interested in the effectiveness of one piece of content (content X) compared to another piece of content (content Y) in a particular brand of gaming machine. Using the configuration and management system 10, the analyst can perform a datastore query on various parameters of the gaming devices, for example, the “coin-in” count on all Blazing 7's style gaming machines with iView gaming devices running content version X and content version Y. In this manner, the configuration and management system 10 enables specialty reporting, efficiency analysis, and gaming device management with a level of organization and simplicity that was never before possible.

In another preferred embodiment, the standard binary datastore searches are performed to produce other specifically desired reports, such as predictive analysis and yield management. In one embodiment, the yield management data includes projection data calculated based on one or more factors related to use of one or more gaming machines. For example, in one preferred embodiment, the yield management data includes game play projection data, machine usage projection data, and/or income projection data calculated based historical game play data for the one or more gaming machines. In one preferred embodiment, the calculations are performed using linear regression analysis. In another preferred embodiment, the calculations are performed using a neural network. In one embodiment, yield management data is used to determine one or more bonuses.

A preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 incorporates a yield management feature for the purpose of optimizing floor drop using configuration control over slot machines. The yield management feature of the configuration and management system 10 implements configuration control by setting option-able parameters including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: wager, theme, percentage and time in play. The analysis and predictive results are displayed using the graphical user interface 70 presents a map 74 of the gaming floor, preferably, with click and grab ease of planning and scheduling new gaming configurations.

A preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 provides automation and future-looking guidance to slot directors in configuring parameters for slot machines in order to optimize floor drop over some period of time: hour, day, week, month, year using inputs, including by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: accounting, time of day, civic, news and entertainment events, and player status.

As mentioned above, a preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 includes a graphical user interface 70 to simplify the use of these complex tools. The graphical user interface 70 presents a map 74 of the gaming floor that makes the yield management results clear and comprehensible to those not highly skilled in the art of yield management. Further, the graphical user interface 70 of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 accepts input to the yield management feature, thereby allowing a casino operator the personalized control to manage the yield management process in the most logical/understandable/comprehensive manner. The input parameters and requirement for the graphical user interface 70 are also configured to be allowable subject to the gaming regulations for the relevant jurisdiction.

A preferred embodiment of the gaming-content configuration and management system 10 is able to analyze, automate, schedule, and control the options, operation, and configuration for thousands of machines. The configuration and management system 10 is capable of providing this control from a single property to many properties that may span states, countries, and even throughout the world. Preferably, a map 74 is presented via the graphical use interface 70 of the system 10, which is used to present information to a casino administrator in an easily understandable format. In this manner, a casino administrator is able to see historical results and then schedule changes in the slot floor using the map 74, presented via the graphical use interface 70.

In one preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system 10 is capable of applying the yield management feature to an individual player. In another aspect of a preferred embodiment, the configuration and management system 10 utilizes two forms of yield management in combination (i.e., physical groupings combined with individual player performance and monitoring).

In one preferred embodiment, yield management feature of the configuration and management system 10 is configured to optimize casino profitability. In one specific, non-limiting preferred embodiment, casino profitability is represented by the formula: CP = time ( OP - OE )

Where:

CP=Casino Profit

OP=Operations Profit

OE=Operations Expenses

Additionally, in one preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, time is a variable in yield management calculations. Further, it should be noted that operational expenses are included in the above casino profitability formula. In a preferred embodiment, many aspects of operations performance are captured in the systems and messages. An additional aspect of the configuration and management system 10 involves applying yield management principles to operational efficiency issues, thereby further increasing casino profitability.

In a preferred embodiment, each element of the operations profit formula (shown below) can be broken down and the principles of yield management applied. For the casino slot floor the operations profit, OP, can be broken into: OP = time ( POSP + SFD )

Where:

POSP=Point Of Sale Profit (includes hotel, retail, food and beverage and entertainment)

SFD=Slot Floor Drop

Continuing: SFD = time ( PL - promotions ) ( RETURNVISIT )

Where:

RETURNVISIT=probability that the player will return to the casino.

PL=Player Loss

Promotions=marketing money the casino contributes to player kickbacks, comps, and system games.

Still continuing:
PL=ST*GCT*HPC*WAGER

Where:

ST=time the player spends at the slot machine, i.e., seat time

GCT=Game Cycle Time

HPC=Hold Percentage for the game

Further continuing:
WAGER=LINESBET*CREDITS*DENOM

Where:

LINESBET is the number of lines on which the player is betting.

CREDITS is the number of credits the player chooses to bet.

DENOM is denomination, i.e., the worth of an individual credit.

It should be noted that LINESBET, CREDITS, and DENOM can each be set to a minimum and are option-able parameters. As such, LINESBET, CREDITS, and DENOM are each under yield management control. Interestingly, changes in parameters within the PL (Player Loss) formula above can have a significant effect. Even if PL (Player Loss) is held constant, other element can still be modified within the formula. For example, GCT (Game Cycle Time) could be reduced by half while ST (Seat Time) is doubled. In this scenario, the player spends much more time at the game. Accordingly, such a players' chances of winning a progressive or system game are increased. Continuing this example, during slow times for the casino the above-described configuration change provides a method for the casino operator to enhance the attractiveness of the games to players without adversely compromising player loss or modifying progressive rules or systems games. The capability of the configuration and management system 10 provides a distinct advantage over prior gaming systems, in that no regulatory review of “new game rules” (i.e., new game configuration) is required.

A preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10 includes the capability to link the above-described changes to marketing programs such as mailings, advertisements, phones calls, other marketing methods, and the like. In addition, configuration and management system 10 includes a linkage to system game operation and individual yield management, as described above.

In one preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, the yield management feature of the system 10 includes the ability to advertise, annunciate, and/or otherwise alert the player that yield management configuration change has occurred. Otherwise stated, in one specific, non-limiting embodiment, when the player sits at a gaming machine and is identified, the configuration and management system 10 annunciates to the player, “you are at 98% payback.” In one preferred embodiment, such an announcement is made and maintained for the player to observe through at least one game cycle.

In another aspect of a preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, the yield management parameter modifications are applied interactively as the casino operates. For example, in one specific, non-limiting embodiment, every fifteen minutes, the “forward looking” algorithms for yield management operation note that a particular carousel is being heavily played. In such an embodiment, yield management parameters (e.g., minimum bet and the like) are then immediately modified on those gaming cabinets (in the carousel) that are not currently in play. Thus, any new players joining the “hot” carousel are joining into game play that has had “tighter” yield management parameters applied. Accordingly, in such an example, those gaming patrons already on the “hot” carousel who have been a part of creating the “hot” feeling are at an advantage to those players joining later.

Likewise, in another specific, non-limiting embodiment, if the “forward-looking” algorithms for yield management operation detect that a carousel is “cooling,” then yield management parameters (e.g., denomination and the like) can be immediately lowered or modified for ALL players. In this manner, those loyal players receive the same reward as new players joining the “action.” Moreover, from a regulatory standpoint, relaxing yield management parameters on players during a gaming session is viewed far less restrictively than tightening yield management parameters on players during a gaming session. In this regard, in one preferred embodiment, tightening yield management parameters on players requires at least an announcement (and possibly active acceptance of the modifications by the player), and more commonly instituting the above configuration changes between player sessions.

In a preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, the yield management feature necessitates an audio and/or visual announcement to the players that yield management parameters have been changed. In this regard, parameter changes in the players' favor may be displayed on the game screen, presented in the systems interface (iView-type device), announced by sound and/or the like. As explained above, parameter changes that are not in the players' favor (i.e., changes that tighten yield management parameters on the players) typically require higher levels of announcement to the players and possibly active acceptance of the modifications by the players.

Referring again to the formulae above, slot floor drop the parameter RETURNVISIT (probability that the player will return to the casino) is a significant term. In a preferred embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, yield management accounts for the importance of maximizing the RETURNVISIT probability, while at the same time maximizing SFD (Slot Floor Drop, i.e., the money collected). In a preferred embodiment of the system 10, a balance between these two elements is significant, and advantageously, is customizable by a casino administrator through the use of the yield management feature of the configuration and management system 10.

In a preferred embodiment of the system 10, the yield management feature enables cyclic patterns to be identified in order to both increase operator profitability and optimize player satisfaction, and thus return visits. Such factors, which are examined by the yield management feature in determining such cycles include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: demographics, weather, and entertainment events. In a preferred embodiment of the system 10, use of the yield management feature enables casinos that have implemented the system 10 to provide a much more personalized and individualized gaming experience.

In another aspect of a preferred embodiment of the system 10, the yield management feature combines individual player performance over time with gross property wide yield management information. This combination gives each player their own unique play characteristics. In this regard, individualized characterization, control, and promotion are prominent features of such an embodiment. By combining yield management with player information, the system 10 enables customization of the game offerings specific to that customer.

Thus, in one specific, non-limiting embodiment, if a game cabinet holds fifteen game themes (i.e., game titles), only those game themes that the yield management predicts are most attractive to the player will be presented. Preferably, this extends to new game offerings as well, so that when new game themes are introduced, the yield management feature predicts if a particular player might like this new game theme, provides that game theme to the player, and announces to the player the existence of the new game theme. Additionally, as described above, parameters such as wager, game cycle time, and percentage can be set by the system 10, based upon player characteristics and overall yield management parameters.

In another specific, non-limiting embodiment of the configuration and management system 10, if the “forward-looking” yield management algorithms predict over 80% occupancy then GCT (game cycle time) is reduced, thereby increasing profitability. Moreover, if indications are that occupancy will remain over 80%, then yield management can move to adjusting WAGER to higher minimums. In one preferred embodiment, this adjustment might take the form of changing minimum lines, minimum credits, or denomination. As described above, the yield management feature of the configuration and management system 10 has a wide area of variables for affecting and adjusting slot floor profit.

In a preferred embodiment, the yield management aspect of the configuration and management system 10, coordinates game performance data from multiple input sources into an analytic engine. The sources include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: (1) slot data accounting, (2) multi-game cabinet accounting, (3) player tracking data, comps, (4) hotel, (5) point of sale system data, (6) location, (7) game mix nearby, (8) entertainment data, (9) weather, (10) off site user group demographic data, and (11) grouping of players, including the monitoring of those groups and presentation of bonusing specific to that group.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the system 10, the regulatory rules that allow control over gaming devices by electronic means are (1) GLI-21, and (2) NVGCB Proposed System Based and System Supported gaming regulations. Gaming devices with one or more modifiable parameters affecting yield management calculations include, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: (1) theme, (2) wager (a) minimum bet, (b) maximum bet, (c) minimum lines bet, and (d) denomination, (3) percentage, and (4) play time, (a) spin cycle time, and (b) bonus round time.

In a preferred embodiment of the system 10, the uses of the yield analysis feature, include by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: system-games, gaming user groups, casino gaming areas, casinos and multi-property gaming, base game play of relating system-games, and modification of system-game operation for optimization of overall property profitability. In another aspect of a preferred embodiment of the system 10, the yield analysis feature includes predictive analysis engine for optimizing any desirable parameter (e.g., drop or occupancy during some future time). In one preferred embodiment of the system 10, the yield analysis feature includes an automation system for aiding and advising slot floor managers in the optimal configuration of a casino floor, including individual parameterization of slot machines.

A preferred embodiment of the yield management aspect of the system 10 is directed towards manipulation of gaming device parameters including, by way of example only, and not by way of limitation: wager, theme, percentage, and time in play to provide optimal casino profitability based upon predictive modeling. Additionally, in another aspect of a preferred embodiment, predictive modeling includes parameters related to player, property occupancy, time of day, week, month, year, events, weather, demographics, and other similar parameters.

Another preferred embodiment of the yield management aspect of the system 10 is directed towards linkage of yield management manipulation of gaming devices 30 with player-targeted marketing, including advertisements and inducements from casino to patrons. Still another preferred embodiment the yield management aspect of the system 10 is directed towards notifying a player for at least one game cycle that a yield management parameter has been modified on the gaming device being used by the player. Moreover, yet another preferred embodiment the yield management aspect of the system 10 is directed towards a system 10 configured to combine message set capability with game design, wherein the game design enables capturing, analyzing, and reporting on individual machine, machine grouping, as well as individual player and player grouping performance over time.

Although the invention has been described in language specific to computer structural features, methodological acts, and by computer-readable media, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific structures, acts, or media described. Therefore, the specific structural features, acts and mediums are disclosed as exemplary embodiments implementing the claimed invention.

Furthermore, the various embodiments described above are provided by way of illustration only and should not be construed to limit the invention. Those skilled in the art will readily recognize various modifications and changes that may be made to the claimed invention without following the example embodiments and applications illustrated and described herein, and without departing from the true spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/42
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3232, G07F17/3234, G07F17/3209, G07F17/32, G07F17/323
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32E6, G07F17/32E4, G07F17/32E6B, G07F17/32C2D
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 27, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: BALLY GAMING, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MORROW, JAMES W;DIMICHELE, CARMEN;OSGOOD, PAUL R;REEL/FRAME:017079/0518;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060113 TO 20060124