US 20070099698 A1
A generic, self-contained gaming device is transportable to various jurisdictions for use. The gaming device when associated with a terminal or gaming machine is configured and authenticated for use in the installed location to present one or more wagering games. The gaming device verifies associated components of the terminal or machine, and contacts a local authority, such as gaming regulator or licensed entity. The local authority provides authorization to operate. The gaming device is then activated to operate in a mode complying with local rules and regulations. In one embodiment, the gaming machine may generate location information and transmit that information to the authority. Authorization to operate may comprise an activation code causing the gaming device to operate in a particular mode, or executable code causing the gaming device to operate as required by governing rules and regulations where the gaming device is located.
1. A method of enabling operation of a gaming machine comprising:
providing a gaming device comprising a housing, a controller located in said housing configured to generate game information and to control one or more associated game components;
associating said gaming device with a gaming terminal including gaming machine components;
initiating said gaming device;
verifying said gaming machine components associated with said gaming device;
transmitting identification information from said gaming device to an authority;
receiving authorization information from said authority at said gaming device;
activating said gaming device for operation in accordance with local rules and regulations of a jurisdiction where said gaming device is located; and
presenting one or more games.
2. The method in accordance with
3. The method in accordance with
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5. The method in accordance with
6. A method of configuring a gaming machine for operation comprising:
providing a gaming device comprising a gaming machine controller mounted in a housing;
associating said gaming device with a gaming machine platform to create a gaming machine, said gaming machine platform comprising a gaming machine housing and one or more gaming machine components, said gaming machine components, when controlled by said controller, being configured to present one or more games to a player of said gaming machine;
activating said gaming device;
verifying said components of said gaming machine with said controller and, if verified, activating said components;
transmitting identification information from said gaming device to a remote local authority and, if verified, receiving authorization from said remote local authority at said controller; and
activating said gaming machine for presentation of one or more games.
7. The method in accordance with
8. The method in accordance with
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10. The method in accordance with
11. The method in accordance with
This application claims priority to U.S. application Ser. No. 60/749,945, filed on Dec. 12, 2005, and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/589,685, filed on Oct. 30, 2006, which application claims priority to U.S. application Ser. No. 60/732,043, filed on Oct. 31, 2005.
The present invention relates to gaming machines and, particularly, gaming machines configured to present wagering-type games.
A variety of configurations of gaming machines configured to present wagering games are well known. For example, one early gaming machine was the mechanical slot machine. This machine accepted coins and had spinning reels.
A variety of newer electronic and electro-mechanical gaming machines have been developed. For example, slot machines now often include mechanical reels which are controlled by electric motors, which motors are themselves controlled by a computing device or electronic controller. In addition, video gaming devices have been developed which are configured to present game information electronically via one or more electronically-controlled displays.
There are numerous problems when considering the cost of manufacturing and developing these gaming machines. First, each machine is generally designed to present a specific game. The machine includes a secure cabinet which contains the game machine components. Generally, the cabinet is configured as a solid box.
In addition, the circuitry for each machine is generally specific to the particular machine and thus may vary significantly between different machines. For example, the configuration of the controller, wiring and peripheral devices for a slot machine varies greatly from the configuration of a video gaming machine, even though the two machines might utilize a common housing. This requires that a tremendous number of components be manufactured and assembled, in a variety of configurations, to create the variety of different gaming machines.
Because the gaming machines are assembled into a particular configuration, they are large and thus are not well-suited to being transported. Also, these particularly configured gaming machines are not suited for use in presenting other games. For example, a casino may purchase a gaming machine for many thousands of dollars. If the popularity of the game wanes, however, the gaming machine is not well suited to presenting other games because the circuitry of the gaming machine is generally very specific to the original game.
Another problem with the current method of constructing and implementing gaming machines relates to the multitude of gaming or other regulations which pertain to these machines. For example, Nevada gaming regulation may require a game operator to report certain data from operation of a gaming machine. Another jurisdiction, however, such as Oklahoma, might require that the game operator report entirely different data associated with operation of a gaming machine. As a result, gaming manufacturers must currently configure each individual gaming machine based upon its intended location of use. For example, if a gaming machine is to be used in Nevada, the gaming manufacturer may specifically configure that machine to meet the Nevada gaming regulations and then ship that machine to a casino in Nevada for use. This may require a manufacturer to create many different “models” of the very same gaming machine, depending upon where the gaming machine is to be used.
One aspect of the invention is a method of authenticating a gaming machine for use after its assembly or installation at a particular location, the method ensuring that the gaming machine meets local regulations. In one embodiment, the gaming machine may comprise a universal presentation platform or terminal and an associated gaming device, and in other embodiments, a gaming device may be associated with an existing gaming machine for conversion.
Other aspects of the invention comprise a gaming machine comprising a universal presentation platform or terminal and a gaming device, as well as methods of manufacturing, using and assembling the gaming machine.
In one embodiment, a presentation platform or terminal comprises a cabinet having a universal gaming device interface. In a preferred embodiment, the cabinet is modular. In one configuration of a modular cabinet, the cabinet has a base, first and second sides, a back, a top and a front or door. These components are configured to be connected to one another using simple connectors and using simple tools, such as by the purchaser of the cabinet. In one embodiment, the components are connected with threaded fasteners which extend through apertures in the components, such as at outwardly extending flanges thereof. The fasteners maybe studs which extend out from one component towards another, bolts/screws or the like.
The base of the cabinet preferably rests upon a platform, whereby the connected sides, back and door are supported by the base independent of the platform or other support surface, ensuring the integrity of the cabinet. The mechanical connection of the components ensures efficient grounding of the cabinet and associated cabinets from electrical shock.
The universal presentation platform or terminal also includes a number of standard features or components for use in presenting a game, such as one or more displays (such as LCD, LED, spinning reels and other types of information displays), a coin comparitor, coupon reader, coin hopper, bill validator, lights and other features, including associated wiring. In one embodiment, these electrical components are associated with one of the components of the cabinet, such as the back or door, in a manner permitting them to be independently tested and shipped as individual components. The universal gaming device interface comprises a standard connection between various electrical components of the presentation platform and different gaming devices.
The platform or terminal is configured to accept a gaming device. The gaming device comprises a housing and at least a gaming machine controller. Preferably, the housing contains other game control and verification components, such as meters, a player tracking controller, bonusing controller or the like. The gaming device may have a variety of configurations, such as where the controller is configured as a unique game board or is a PC-type controller. The gaming device housing is preferably lockable and configured to engage the gaming device in a manner ensuring grounding of the housing to the cabinet. In a preferred embodiment, the gaming device is independently verifiable (such as by appropriate gaming regulators) from the platform.
The invention includes a number of additional configurations of gaming machines/cabinets, including an air flow cooling path, air filtering and the like.
The invention has numerous advantages. A particular advantage to the invention is that different gaming devices can be used with any universal presentation platform or terminal. In fact, gaming devices can be installed, removed, and switched/swapped to and from particular or different presentation platforms.
Another embodiment of the invention comprises a method of authenticating a gaming machine for use in a particular location, the method ensuring that the gaming machine meets the requirements of regulations governing operation of a gaming machine in the particular location of use. In one embodiment of this method, a gaming device is created. The gaming device is preferably a self-contained and secure device which is either-configured for use with a generic platform or terminal, or with an existing gaming machine in a conversion. The gaming device is preferably generic in format or configuration, permitting it to be shipped for use in any number of locations.
Once the gaming device is transported to a particular location and it is associated with a platform/terminal or an existing gaming machine, the gaming device preferably initiates itself. Upon initial operation, the gaming device is not capable of presenting any games. Instead, the gaming device first preferably verifies associated components (such as the peripheral devices associated with the platform or terminal to which the gaming device is connected), such as to confirm they are permissible or approved components and their operational status. If verified, the components are activated for use.
The gaming device transmits identification information to an authorizing authority. This information may comprise a serial number or other information regarding the gaming device. The information may also comprise information regarding the configuration of the gaming device and of the associated components. In one embodiment, the gaming device may be configured to transmit location information, such as generated by an associated GPS device, which information may be used to confirm the location of the gaming device.
The activating or authorizing authority may comprise a gaming regulator or licensed entity, such as a manufacturer or operator licensed in the jurisdiction where the gaming device is to be operated. The gaming device may transmit the information to a computing device, such as a server, of such an authority over a communication link.
The gaming device obtains authority to activate from an appropriate authority, such as a gaming regulator or licensed entity. This may comprise an activation code which may be used by the gaming device to configure itself for operation, or computer executable code which enables operation of the gaming device. Once authorized, the gaming device is activated for presentation of one or more games. When activated, the gaming device is configured to operate in accordance with governing rules and regulations for the jurisdiction where the gaming device is located, such as by configuring the gaming device to send required reporting information and ensuring that all required components exist and are approved.
In accordance with additional aspects of the invention, periodic authorization may be required in order to permit the gaming device to continue to present games.
In accordance with this aspect of the invention, a generic gaming device may be created and used in any number of locations in compliance with local rules and regulations. The gaming device may also be associated with a variety of platforms, terminals or other gaming machines, and the gaming device may be moved from one location to another and still be in compliance with local regulations (once the gaming device is re-authorized or authenticated).
Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description of the drawings which follows, when considered with the attached figures.
The invention is a gaming machine, a method of assembling a gaming machine, and methods of using a gaming machine, including methods of authenticating a gaming machine for use. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough description of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known features have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.
One aspect of the invention is a modular gaming cabinet. The gaming cabinet comprises individual components or sub-assemblies which maybe further assembled to form a completed gaming cabinet. Another aspect of the invention is a gaming device. The gaming device comprises a secure housing with at least one internal controller. Another aspect of the invention is a gaming machine comprising a universal presentation platform which is configured to accept different gaming devices. In one embodiment, the presentation platform comprises the modular gaming cabinet of the invention configured with a universal gaming device interface (UGDI). Other aspects of the invention comprise methods of assembling a modular gaming cabinet and methods of using and/or operating a gaming machine.
A first aspect of the invention will be described with reference to
In one embodiment, the gaming cabinet 20 is constructed from a base 22 (as illustrated in Figured 2), a first or left side 24 (as illustrated in
In a preferred embodiment, referring to
In one embodiment, the base 22 has an upstanding flange 34 or lip at opposing front 36 and rear 38 portions thereof at the inner surface thereof. These flanges 34 are for use in connecting mating portions of other portions of the cabinet 20. Preferably, the two opposing side edges are generally flat.
Preferably, as illustrated, a plurality of apertures and slots are defined in the components of the cabinet 20, including the flanges thereof. In addition, a variety of studs may be connected to the various components and extend therefrom for use in connecting the components.
In a preferred embodiment, the base 22, sides 24,26, back 28, top 30 and door 32 are constructed of metal. The outside of each of those components maybe painted, plated or the like, such as in a powder coat process in order to protect those components and improve the aesthetic appearance thereof.
A method of assembling the components into the cabinet 20 is illustrated in
As illustrated therein, the sides 24, 26 and back 28 are connected to the base 22, the sides 22,24 and top 30 are connected to the back 28, the sides 24,26 and back 28 are connected to the top 30, and the door 32 is connected to the left side 24. Preferably, flat edge portions of the components are mated with the outwardly extending flanges of mating components, whereby portions of the components overlap one another to form points of connection.
In a preferred embodiment, fasteners engage the components of the cabinet 20. In one embodiment, somewhat elongate slots are formed in the edges of the components (or flanges thereof) between opposing edges, while closely toleranced holes are formed at the terminus of the edges. In this manner, when two components are aligned for connection, the peripheral portions of each component are closely aligned, while the central portions thereof have slots which permit some offset while still accepting a fastener there through.
In some instances, studs extending from one component extend through the mating slots/holes in the mating component. In other instances, bolts and mating nuts (or other threaded fasteners) are utilized. Importantly, in this configuration, “metal to metal” contact between the components is ensured. For example, compared to riveting, where the rivet may “float” in an opening and not make constant and direct contact with the associated panel, the use of the studs or bolts and mating nuts ensures that metal to metal contact is guaranteed between the components.
In a preferred embodiment, threaded studs or bolts and mating nuts are utilized to form the connections between the components. In this manner, the components of the gaming cabinet 20 can be shipped to an end user who can then assemble the cabinet 20 using only basic tools (i.e. without the need for special tools or special manufacturing equipment). It will additionally be appreciated that use of such fasteners, as compared to rivets, welding and the like, permits the cabinet 20 to be selectively disassembled. For example, a damaged side maybe replaced by disconnecting it from the remaining components of the cabinet. Another advantage of this configuration is, unlike rivets, that no part of the fasteners need to be visible or accessible from the exterior of the cabinet (when studs are used, their heads are embedded, and when bolts or screws are used, they may pass through a flange rather than from the outer to the inner side of one the panel/component). This ensures that the fasteners are not tampered with and makes the cabinet more aesthetically pleasing.
In one embodiment, as illustrated in
In a preferred embodiment, the gaming cabinet 20 includes wiring and other gaming machine presentation components. In a preferred embodiment, the cabinet 20 comprises part of a universal presentation platform which is configured to accept one of many different gaming devices and which, when a gaming device is associated therewith, is configured to present one or more games.
In a preferred embodiment, the wiring and other components are primarily associated with the components of the cabinet 20 (rather than by being separate therefrom). In one embodiment, player input buttons (including lamps and switches), one or more meters, one or more speakers, a coin head, a coin acceptor, a coin diverter controller (such as a solenoid), one or more displays (including main, secondary, progressive/bonusing/player tracking and other displays), a belly light, award or top light and door switch, may be connected to the door 32. In one embodiment, a universal power distribution box, belly light ballast, one or more connector panels, power supply and gaming device connectors (described below), may be connected to the back 28. One or more key switches are mounted to the right side 26. An awards or top light ballast, exhaust fan and main door switch may be mounted to the left side 24. A hopper/printer connector and coin hopper maybe mounted to the base 22. A service light maybe mounted to the top 30. Of course, different and/or additional components maybe mounted to the cabinet panels/components.
The gaming cabinet 20 preferably includes means for displaying game information to a player. Though not illustrated in
In a preferred embodiment, the various electrically operated components of the cabinet/platform 20 are arranged to be “stand-alone” so that they may be independently tested. For example, the player input buttons are configured so they may be directly tested in place on the door while the door is still disconnected from the remaining components of the cabinet 20 (i.e. before the cabinet is assembled). Similarly, the various connectors/harnesses associated with the back 28 may be tested and checked independently of the other features/components, such as those associated with the door. This configuration has the particular advantage that the components of the cabinet 20 can be tested before they are shipped and without having to assemble the cabinet 20, thus saving substantial time but still ensuring that the components will work once the cabinet 20 is assembled.
Preferably, connectors are provided relative to the electrical components mounted to the cabinet portions. For example, one or more connectors are provided relative to the display, player input buttons and coin acceptor associated with the door 32 for connection to the main connectors mounted to the back 28, whereby these components maybe connected to one another when the cabinet 20 is assembled. In one embodiment, the connectors may be male/female type electrical connectors or plugs, such as multi-pin connectors. The connectors may be located at the ends of wiring runs, and those wiring runs may then be extended and plugged into one another during cabinet assembly. In another embodiment, the connectors could be mounted in stationary locations which, when mating portions of the cabinet 20 are connected, cause the connectors to be connected (for example, one connector could be located at the rear portion of the left side 24 for mating with a similarly positioned connector at the back 28, when the left side 24 and back 28 are joined. As described below, the wiring preferably leads to a universal gaming device interface which is configured to mate or connect a gaming device, whereby the gaming device may interface with those components.
In one embodiment, the configuration of the modular cabinet 20 can easily be changed. For example, in one configuration, the cabinet 20 may have a depth of 18 inches. Using the same back 28 and door 32, but deeper sides 24,26, base 22 and top 30, the cabinet 20 may have a depth of 22 inches. Of course, the particular dimensions given are by way of example and other cabinet sizes are contemplated.
Preferably, the configuration of the electrical components is substantially the same or “standardized” relative to each and every cabinet 20. For example, wiring harnesses are preferably all of the same length, regardless of the size of the cabinet 20. Preferably, the wiring harnesses are all the longest length necessary for the largest cabinet size. When used in smaller cabinets, the wiring may be doubled back or folded to fit the smaller cabinet. In this manner, only one configuration of each of the components, including wiring sets or harnesses, needs to be configured for multiple configurations of completed cabinets 20.
As indicated, in a preferred embodiment, the modular cabinet 20 comprises a portion of a universal presentation platform. Referring to
In the embodiment illustrated, the UGDI 102 comprises a plurality of ports 104 for connection to one or more connectors of a gaming device 200. The ports 104 are connected to wires (or other elements for transmitting signals, such as leads, optical fiber or the like) leading to various components of the platform 100. The ports 104 may be arranged in various fashions. In one embodiment, the ports 104 are associated with the back 28 of the cabinet 20. A gaming device platform may be located in the cabinet 20 for supporting the gaming device 200 when mated or connected to the ports 104.
Another aspect of the invention is a gaming device 200. Referring to
In one embodiment, the housing 202 is a generally enclosed box or other enclosure. As illustrated, a top or other portion of the housing 202 may be opened or removed to provide selective access to the interior thereof. The top or other portion may be secured with one or more locks, such as a purely mechanical key-operated lock or an electromechanical lock, such as a card-reader type lock.
Preferably, the gaming device 200 includes a controller configured to generate and/or provide game data. This data may include game data or information which is presented to the player via a display, such as video information. The data may also include control instructions or commands for operating various of the components of the platform 100. The gaming device 200 also preferably includes other verification, security and/or control components. For example, as detailed below, the gaming device 200 may include one or more meters, a player tracking controller and bonusing controller. In general, the gaming device 200 preferably includes all of the components necessary to operate or run a gaming machine and which must be verified or certified, such as by appropriate gaming authorities, to ensure the gaming device 200 is secure.
The gaming device 200 may have a variety of configurations. Referring to
In one embodiment, the housing 202 of the gaming device 200 maybe configured with one or more connections for securing the housing 202 to the gaming device 200. In one embodiment, one or more threaded fasteners may be passed through a wall or other portion of the housing 202 into engagement with the cabinet 20. In a preferred embodiment, the threaded fastener(s) extend from the interior of the housing 202 into selective engagement with the cabinet 20. In this manner, when the housing 202 is locked, the fasteners are no longer accessible, preventing the gaming device 200 from being removed by a party who does not have access to the interior of the housing 202 (such as by having the key to the top lock of the housing 202).
In one embodiment, the housing 202 may be provided with another or different locking mechanism. For example, the housing 202 may be configured to connect to the cabinet 20 using an external lock or connection, such as may be spring-loaded and released. Such a connection may ensure that the housing 202 remains in position and the connectors 204 remain tightly engaged with the UGDI 102 of the cabinet 20.
The gaming device 200 may include means for dissipating heat. In one embodiment, the housing 202 is provided with at least two openings, one of which may serve as an inlet and one as an outlet for air. The inlet may be, for example, a plurality of small holes located in a side or the top of the housing. In a preferred embodiment, the outlet comprises one or more openings leading to an outlet through the cabinet 20.
In a preferred embodiment, the cabinet 20 has a primary and a secondary venting or cooling path. The primary venting path preferably leads from one or more inlets at a lower portion of the cabinet 20 (such as through openings in a lower portion of the door 32) to one or more outlets located at a higher portion of the cabinet 20, such as exhaust vents at a top portion of one of the sides (see
In addition, the cabinet 20 preferably includes a side vent which communicates with the gaming device 200. In one embodiment, the side vent comprises one or more openings in one of the sides 24,26. Preferably, a plenum leads from the inner surface of the side 24,26 from that outlet or vent to the one or more outlets or vents in the housing 202 of the gaming device 200 (when a gaming device 200 is associated with the platform 100). A fan or other means may be utilized, as illustrated in
The cabinet 20 and/or gaming device 200 may include one or more temperature sensors. The sensor may include an integrated memory for storing temperature and time data, or maybe configured to output such information to the controller of the gaming device or a remote location. In one embodiment, the temperature sensor may be configured to detect or measure a temperature in the cabinet 20. The temperature sensor may include more than one sensor (for example, a sensor or sensor controller with one or more probes), such as including sensors for detecting or measuring the temperature of multiple components or areas. For example, temperature sensors may detect the temperature of the cabinet interior, gaming device housing interior, a display and/or other components or areas.
In one embodiment, when the sensed temperature exceeds a predetermined maximum temperature, the controller is configured to shut off the gaming device 200 or otherwise interrupts game play in order to avoid a game malfunction or failure. In such event, the controller may be configured to generate an alert. The alert maybe displayed on the display of the platform 100 or might be sent to a central location, such as a main server, via a communication link.
In one embodiment, the cabinet 20 may include an air filtration mechanism for filtering air which is drawn into the cabinet 20. In one embodiment, a filter bracket is connected to the gaming machine at the exterior thereof at the location of the one or more air intakes to the interior of the machine. A filter is selectively located over the air intake for filtering the air which passes through the intake. Preferably, the filter is either mounted to the filter bracket or is held in place or mounted between the filter bracket and the gaming machine housing. The bracket maybe configured to connect directly to portions of a vent, such as with legs which snap into slots forming the vent. In this manner, the filter can be checked and replaced without having to access the sensitive internal portions of the cabinet (which access is normally restricted). In other embodiments, a similar arrangement can be provided where the filter is located at the interior of the cabinet.
In one embodiment, the gaming machine/cabinet 20 maybe configured with an automatic filter detection and replacement mechanism. In one embodiment, a filter element or elements may be configured as a roll or other continuous or connected element. Filter elements or portions may be moved from a first or “new” position to second position covering the vent(s) and then to a third or “used” position. For example, a filter roll may be configured to scroll across the vent.
In one embodiment, means maybe provided for detecting a condition of the filter element or portion which is front of the vent at a particular time, to determine if it needs to be moved/replaced. For example, a light beam maybe directed at the filter and, depending on the amount of light reflected back, the condition of the filter may be detected. In another embodiment, a manometer or other pressure detector may be used to detect a difference in interior/exterior air pressure (thus reflecting the “impedance” of the filter element). When the filter element or portion is detected to be “dirty,” a means may be provided for moving or replacing the filter. For example, in the spool or scroll configuration, the spools may be rotated to move a portion of clean filter in front of the vent and move the dirty portion to a take-up spool.
In one embodiment, the housing 202 could be configured to be electrically isolated, such as by meeting NEMA standards, so that signals generated by the controller and other components of the gaming device 200 can not be detected externally. For example, the housing 202 may include one or more forms of shielding for such a purpose.
In none embodiment, communications between various of the components of the gaming device may be via wired connections. However, such communication links may be facilitated by wireless or a combination of wired and wireless links.
Various aspects of assembly, use and operation of a gaming device will now be described. In a preferred embodiment, a gaming device of the invention comprises a universal platform 100 and an associated gaming device 200.
The platform 100 preferably comprises a cabinet 20 and universal associated components, as detailed above. The cabinet 20 is preferably of the modular construction described above. In a method of manufacture, the individual components of the cabinet 20 are constructed. For example, the base 22, sides 24,26, back 28, top 30 and door 32 are constructed from metal, such as in stamping procedures. As indicated, the components may be painted, plated or otherwise coated. The various additional components of the platform 100 are associated therewith. For example, the various electronics are connected to the back 28 and door 32.
In a preferred embodiment, once the electronics are associated with the particular components of the cabinet 20, those various features or elements are tested to verify their operation. The modular gaming cabinet 20 may then be shipped or transported from the manufacturer to the end user. In one embodiment, the various components are packed in one or more boxes or crates.
Once the components of the modular cabinet 20 arrive at their intended destination, they may be connected in the manner detailed above and illustrated in
The steps just detailed comprise one embodiment of a method of assembling the cabinet. As indicated, during assembly, additional components to those forming the housing may be associated with the cabinet (such as braces, a coin hopper, bill validator, display and the like). Further, as detailed, various of the steps comprise connecting various electrical components and their associated connectors/cabling. As indicated, many of such components may be pre-associated with a particular portion of the cabinet, such as the back or sides, before such components are assembled. The result of the assembly is a universal presentation platform 100.
A gaming device 200 may then be associated with the universal presentation platform 100. The gaming device 200 may be of a variety of types, such as described above. Once the gaming device 200 is associated with the universal presentation platform 100, the result is a gaming machine capable of presenting one or more games to a player. In the preferred embodiment, these games are wagering type games where a player bets or risks monies, credits, points or the like for the opportunity to win monies, points, prizes or the like.
Importantly, the gaming device 200 maybe manufactured by the manufacturer of the universal presentation platform 100 or by one or more third parties. In addition, since the universal presentation platform 100 may accept different gaming devices 200, those gaming devices 200 may be obtained from a variety of different suppliers.
The gaming device 200 maybe configured in various manners. In one embodiment, the gaming device 200 may be configured as a stand-alone controller which is capable of presenting a game independent of data supplied by outside device(s). In another embodiment, the gaming device 200 may be configured with a number generator but be configured to accept other game data (such as executable code) which is downloaded from a remote device (such as a remote game server). In yet another embodiment, the gaming device 200 maybe configured to simply accept game results which are generated from a remote location (i.e. the gaming device 200 is a “terminal”).
Because the gaming device 200 is a self-contained unit, it can be tested separately from the universal presentation platform 100, before it is shipped or associated with a particular universal presentation platform 100.
As one aspect of the invention, the gaming device 200 is preferably approved by appropriate regulatory authorities independent of any approval of the universal presentation platform 100. In this manner, the gaming device 200 can be used with any universal presentation platform 100, including being moved from one platform to another, without having to have the entire combination approved. The platform 100 may also be approved. However, in such event, since all the platforms 100 are alike, only one platform 100 may need to be approved while the gaming devices 200 can be approved independently.
It will be appreciated that the gaming device of the invention, including the modular cabinet, universal presentation platform and gaming device, may have a variety of configurations. In addition, various of the aspects of the invention may be applied to cabinets and machines other than those described specifically herein.
In one embodiment, the gaming cabinet of the invention is configured as an “upright” cabinet. The gaming cabinet could have other configurations, such as “slant-top”, “bar-top”, “console” and the like, and still have various of the aspects and features of the invention.
In one embodiment, the universal presentation platform is configured to receive the gaming device in a substantially horizontal position (by mating to the UGDI located on the back of the cabinet). The gaming device maybe configured to be oriented in various positions. For example, in a reduced depth cabinet configuration, the gaming device may be oriented vertically or an at angle.
The modular cabinet of the invention has numerous benefits. A particular advantage is that the cabinet components can be shipped individually, in groups, in un-assembled form. This is a substantial advantage over shipping an assembled cabinet which is large/oversized and has a substantial volume of dead space.
An advantage of the “universal” configuration of the cabinet is that the cabinet can be mass-produced from a small number component,parts, rather than having to have hundreds and hundreds of speciality component parts for a variety of different gaming machines. This reduces production costs.
One advantage of the invention is the grounding configuration of both the cabinet and the gaming device. Grounding is particularly important relative to a gaming machine to prevent shock (such as might occur when a player touches the machine) from entering the circuitry of the machine and interfering with the operation of the machine. Gaming regulations in many jurisdictions set very specific requirements relative to a gaming machine being “shock-proof.”
Relative to the modular cabinet, a specific advantage of the configuration is that studs/bolts and nuts are used to connect the components. This configuration has advantages overuse of rivets and the like, which may “float” in the opening through which they pass and not at all times securely engage the metal of the housing. Instead, the studs/bolts and nuts form a strong mechanical and electrical connection with the metal forming the cabinet. In one embodiment, washers may be utilized with the nuts, the washers actually embedding themselves in the metal of the cabinet.
The gaming device is also grounded to the cabinet when it is connected thereto. In a preferred embodiment, one or more screws or similar fasteners actually pass through the housing of the gaming device into direct contact with the metal forming the housing (including the back). In this manner, a positive mechanical and electrical connection are formed between the cabinet and the gaming device. In one embodiment, this secure mounting also ensures that the connectors of the gaming device 200 securely engage the ports of the UGDI 102, ensuring integrity of the signal pathway there between.
A particular advantage of the universal presentation platform is that it can accept a variety of different gaming devices. A casino may, for example, purchase a number of presentation platforms. The casino can then lease or purchase gaming devices and associate those devices with the platforms. The gaming devices can be swapped and changed, preferably without requiring any regulatory approval (since the gaming devices are approved independent of the platforms). This allows, for example, a casino to elect to configure a particular number of gaming machines to present a particular game, such as video poker. If the demand for that game is high, they can easily convert other machines presenting other games to that game, simply by changing the gaming device associated with various of the presentation platforms.
A casino may also elect to modify a gaming device. A casino might elect, for example, to upload new gaming code or content to a particular gaming device, thus permitting the gaming device to be configured to present a new or different game. In the case where the casino, a licensed gaming entity, uploads new graphics only (and doesn't change the game code per se or the method of play), then the casino may make changes without even having to have the gaming device re-approved.
Another advantage to the separate “gaming device” configuration is that the gaming device can easily be modified or changed. As detailed, in the prior art, the circuitry of the entire gaming machine is generally uniquely designed. Specific components, wiring and the like are utilized in such a design. Modification of any of the components is often not possible since other components will not often accommodate such changes. On the other hand, the gaming devices of the invention may have a variety of configuration and the gaming devices will still operate with the presentation platform. As described, for example, the gaming device may use a processor (of one or more types) or a dedicated game board, among many configurations.
In one embodiment, the universal presentation platform may be configured to authenticate a gaming device. For example, the presentation platform may be configured with a logic board containing verification data. That data may be compared to gaming device data when a gaming device is associated with the presentation platform. In another embodiment, verification could be performed externally. In this manner, it can be ensured that a gaming device which is associated with a presentation platform is authentic. If a gaming device is not confirmed as authentic, the presentation platform maybe configured to block signals (such as through the UGDI) to prevent the presentation of games.
The venting and filtering configuration of the invention is useful in maintaining trouble-free operation of the machine. It will be appreciated that these and other features of the invention may be applied to gaming machines having other configurations (such as those which do not have modular cabinets or are not configured to accept a variety of gaming devices).
Another aspect of the invention is a method of configuring and authenticating a gaming device for use in a particular location. One such method will be described with reference to
In a preferred embodiment, the gaming device has a “generic” construction, in that the gaming device does not have a specific or particular configuration for meeting a particular set of gaming regulations or other requirements. To the contrary, the gaming device preferably has a single configuration for use in multiple jurisdictions or locations.
In a step S2, the gaming device is transported to a location for use. In one embodiment, this may comprise the step of shipping the gaming device from the location of the manufacturer, such as the State of Nevada, to the location where the gaming device is to be used, such as a casino in the State of Oklahoma.
In a step S3, the gaming device is associated with a terminal. As indicated at S3A, in one embodiment, this step may comprise mating the gaming device to a universal platform or terminal. One such universal platform or terminal and a method of connecting a gaming device thereto is described above. As indicated at S3B, in one embodiment, this step may also comprise mating the gaming device to an existing gaming machine for conversion of that gaming machine. In that configuration, the gaming machine may be wired to or otherwise placed in communication with the existing gaming machine. Such a gaming machine might comprise an existing video or slot gaming machine.
In a step S4, the gaming device is initiated. This may comprise, for example, turning on or “booting up” the gaming device to start its operation. In a preferred embodiment, this step initiates a sequence of further steps or acts for the purpose of placing the gaming device in a condition to present one or more games. Preferably, however, at the time of initiation the gaming device is not configured to or capable of presenting a game.
In one embodiment, when the gaming device is initiated, it may execute steps or acts in accordance with hardware or software (e.g computer code) associated therewith. In one embodiment, upon initiation, the gaming device may even be configured to seek gaming code or other instructions for further operation from a remote source, such as the gaming device manufacturer or other entity or source.
In a step S5, the gaming device preferably verifies associated components, such as the components of the terminal, platform or existing machine with which it is associated. This step may comprise, for example, the gaming device sending a polling message to each associated component (such as peripheral components - video displays, push-buttons, bill validators or other devices). The verification may comprise a determination that such components are: (1) authentic or “permitted” devices and/or (2) that the components are compatible and/or operable. In the former case, for security purposes, the gaming device maybe configured to work only with particular components, such as particular pre-approved peripheral devices. For example, particular coin comparitors, bill validators or the like may be certified as approved devices. The “polling” or other verification may comprise the gaming device seeking identification of the component as such an approved device.
In a step S6, if the components are verified, the gaming device preferably activates those components for use. This may comprise the gaming device sending authorization codes, executable code or the like to the component to enable operation thereof. The activation may instead or additionally comprise the gaming device configuring itself to communicate with the component, such as a particular peripheral device.
Once the gaming device has confirmed operability with the platform, terminal or gaming machine with which it was associated, the gaming device is preferably configured for activation. In a step S7, the gaming device preferably transmits identification information to a remote location. In a preferred embodiment, the information is transmitted to a regulatory authority or licensing gaming entity (manufacturer or operator) for the jurisdiction or location where the gaming device is located and is to be operated. For example, if the gaming device has been shipped to the State of Oklahoma, the gaming device may communicate with a server or other computing device of the State of Oklahoma Tax Commission and/or State of Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, or an entity licensed to manufacturer or operate gaming devices within the State of Oklahoma. This communication maybe, for example, via a secure or partially secure communication path.
In one embodiment, the gaming device may transmit serial number or other identifying information. This information may include information regarding the components of the platform, terminal or gaming machine with which the gaming device has been associated.
In one embodiment, as illustrated at S7A, the gaming device may transmit location information. The gaming device may be provided with a self-locating device or a device which is capable of obtaining or generating location information. For example, the gaming device may be fitted with a GPS transceiver. In such event, when the gaming device is installed after shipment, the gaming device may gather location information. Other types of devices may be utilized to verify the location of the gaming device. For example, the gaming device might be fitted with an RFID tag, which tag when scanned at the shipment destination provides or verifies the location and identify of the gaming device. In this embodiment, the gaming device may be configured to transmit or provide location information for use in verifying the gaming device is in a particular jurisdiction.
In a step S8, the gaming device preferably obtains local activation authorization. In a preferred embodiment, this may comprise a local gaming authority or licensed entity transmitting activation information. The activation information might comprise, for example, an activation signal or code. As indicated at S8A, the information might comprise or include executable code, such as gaming device operating code or game code which enables the gaming device to operate to present one or more games. In one embodiment, the authorization may be obtained from two sources. For example, the gaming device may first send identification information to the gaming device manufacturer or a game provider. The gaming manufacturer or game provider may confirm the gaming device and then transmit gaming machine operating code, such as game code pertaining to one or more games to be presented by the gaming device. The gaming device may also send identification information to a regulatory authority for activation and information which ensures that the gaming device is configured to operate in a manner which is in compliance with local rules and regulations. The activation authorization maybe transmitted via a communication link between the remote authority and the gaming device.
Preferably, the provided activation authorization is configured to cause the gaming device to operate in a manner which complies with the regulations or requirements of the jurisdiction or location where the gaming device is located. As one example, the gaming device maybe configured to operate in a plurality of different modes or manners, depending upon receipt of an authorizing location code. In such event, when the gaming device is located in the State of Oklahoma, for example, the local authority may transmit a “SOK” code to the gaming device, which code causes the gaming device to execute code or otherwise operate in a particular mode which complies with the requirements of the State of Oklahoma. In another configuration, the local authority may transmit specific code or instructions which causes the gaming device to operate in a manner which complies with the requirements of the jurisdiction. For example, the gaming device may receive executable code which either directly causes it to report one or more of wagers, winnings, error conditions, number of games played, number of times the gaming device or associated gaming machine (i.e. cabinet/housing) is accessed, and/or other information, or causes the gaming device to configure itself to do so.
In a step S9, the gaming device is preferably activated. Once activated, the gaming device preferably becomes operable in a capacity in which it may present one or more games via the associated platform/terminal or gaming machine.
In a step S10, the gaming device may present one or more games. In one embodiment, the games may be wager based games offering a player a chance to be awarded winnings. In one embodiment, as indicated at step S10A, the gaming device transmits game play or game device operation information. Preferably, that information complies with the reporting requirements of the authority of the jurisdiction or location where the gaming device is operating. For example, the information may comprise the above referenced wager, error, game, access and/or other information.
In one embodiment, the gaming device maybe configured with an additional security feature. As indicated at S10B, gaming device authorization to operate may be confirmed at one or more times after initial authorization. If, as indicated at S11, this authorization is received, the gaming device may continue to operate. If, as indicated at S12, this authorization is not received, the gaming device may be disabled from further operation.
In one embodiment, the authorization confirmation may comprise a local authority (such as local gaming regulator or licensed entity) sending a polling signal to the gaming device. The polling signal may be send randomly, based upon particular criteria, or on a periodic basis. In one embodiment, the gaming device may be configured to self-disable in the even such a signal is not received within a particular period of time.
In another embodiment, upon receipt of the polling signal, the gaming device may transmit a reply. The reply may, for example, confirm operation of the gaming device. The reply information might include current gaming device location information (ensuring that the gaming device has not been moved from the jurisdiction), the gaming device identifier, and/or status of operation information. Upon receipt of this information from the gaming device, the authority may transmit a “continued operation” code or authorization, thus causing the gaming device to remain operable.
In another embodiment, the gaming device maybe configured to transmit the polling signal or other request for authentication. For example, the gaming device may send periodic request for continued authorization to the local authority. If a reply is not received within a predetermined period of time, the gaming device may be configured to disable itself.
If authorization is not confirmed, as in S12, the gaming device preferably becomes inoperable, at least for the purpose of presenting additional games. In one embodiment, the gaming device may actually be required to completely re-initiate (see step S4 and thereafter, as detailed above).
Various additional aspects and features of the invention will now be described, along with various benefits and advantages of the invention.
In accordance with the above-described invention, a gaming manufacturer, supplier or operator no long needs to custom configure each gaming machine based upon the intended destination of the gaming machine. Instead, a generic gaming device maybe constructed and transported to and used in any jurisdiction or location. In particular, the gaming device of the invention is configured to be self-actualizing or authorizing in accordance with the platform/terminal or machine with which it is associated, and based upon the jurisdiction or location at which the gaming device is to be utilized.
Another advantage of the invention is that a gaming device maybe disassociated with a first terminal and shipped for use with a second terminal in another jurisdiction. This is possible without having to redesign the gaming device. Instead, in accordance with the invention, once the gaming device is relocated, the gaming device performs the initialization and authorization functions detailed above, ensuring that the gaming device is configured for operation in accordance with the rules and regulations of the new jurisdiction or location. This provides enormous flexibility to game operators, such as casinos, which have machines in number of jurisdictions and desire to move those machines based upon various needs.
In one embodiment, the gaming device maybe configured to authenticate the “hardware” of the machine, as well as the “operational characteristics.” As detailed above, authorization of the gaming device preferably results in the gaming machine operating in accordance with appropriate rules and regulations for the jurisdiction where the gaming device is located. This might comprise, for example, the gaming device being configured to output certain reporting data. However, rules and regulations may govern the type and nature of hardware or components of the gaming device and/or associated platform or machine. As indicated, the gaming device is preferably configured to verify associated components. In one embodiment, that information may be provided to the authorizing authority to ensure that all required components are present and that those components are authorized. If not, the gaming device may not be authorized to operate.
In a preferred embodiment, once the gaming device reaches the intended destination of use, the gaming device is configured to self-initiate a verification/authorization sequence. This may comprise the gaming device attempting to establish communications with the requisite authority. In another embodiment, the authorization may be performed manually. For example, once the gaming device is located or installed, local authorities (such as gaming regulators or a licensed operator) might establish direct communications with the gaming device (either over a communication link or by direct contact, such as by plugging a diagnostic/control computer into a port of the gaming device). At that time, the gaming device might be instructed to initiate verification and authorization.
The gaming device may also be associated with an existing gaming machine. When associated with an existing gaming machine, the gaming device ensures that operation of the machine is again in accordance with local rules and regulations. The gaming machine can then also be moved to another location, since the gaming device is configured to re-authenticate and ensure that the gaming machine is again in compliance at the new location.
Of course, the various of the steps of the method maybe performed in various manners and in various orders.
It will be understood that the above described arrangements of apparatus and the method there from are merely illustrative of applications of the principles of this invention and many other embodiments and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the claims.