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Publication numberUS20080132329 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/948,684
Publication dateJun 5, 2008
Filing dateNov 30, 2007
Priority dateNov 30, 2006
Publication number11948684, 948684, US 2008/0132329 A1, US 2008/132329 A1, US 20080132329 A1, US 20080132329A1, US 2008132329 A1, US 2008132329A1, US-A1-20080132329, US-A1-2008132329, US2008/0132329A1, US2008/132329A1, US20080132329 A1, US20080132329A1, US2008132329 A1, US2008132329A1
InventorsJames A. Jorasch, Robert C. Tedesco, Daniel E. Tedesco, Jeffrey Y. Hayashida
Original AssigneeJorasch James A, Tedesco Robert C, Tedesco Daniel E, Hayashida Jeffrey Y
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Systems, methods and apparatuses for reinvesting payouts from a wagering game
US 20080132329 A1
Abstract
Methods, apparatus, systems and computer readable media for determining at least one reinvestment configuration for determining whether a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account to a second account based on game play of a first game at a gaming device, the game play of the first game being associated with the first account balance; and allowing play of a second game with funds in the second account after determining that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred according to the reinvestment configuration, wherein the second game cannot be played using funds in the first account.
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Claims(48)
1. A method comprising:
determining at least one reinvestment configuration for determining whether a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account to a second account based on game play of a first game at a gaming device, the game play of the first game being associated with the first account balance; and
allowing play of a second game with funds in the second account after determining that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred according to the reinvestment configuration, wherein the second game cannot be played using funds in the first account.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the reinvestment configuration comprises a win of the first game, the win requiring a payout of credits to the first account.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the payout of credits to the first account is equal to the non-zero amount of credits to be transferred to the second account.
4. The method of claim 2, wherein the non-zero amount of credits to be transferred is less than the payout of credits to the first account.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the reinvestment configuration comprises receiving an indication of the non-zero amount of credits to be transferred.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the indication of the non-zero amount of credits to be transferred is received from the player.
7. The method of claim 5, wherein the indication of the non-zero amount of credits to be transferred is received from the player subsequent to a win of the first game by the player.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein the non-zero amount of credits is not greater than a payout for the win of the first game.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the first game is at least one payline associated with a slot machine game having a plurality of reels; and
wherein the second game comprises at least one additional payline associated with the slot machine game.
10. The method of claim 9, wherein the additional payline is displayed to the player after the it has been determined that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account to a second account, based on the reinvestment configuration.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein the additional payline is not displayed to the player before it has been determined that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account to a second account, based on the reinvestment configuration.
12. An apparatus comprising:
a gaming device configured to perform the steps of:
determining at least one reinvestment configuration for determining whether a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account balance to a second account balance based on game play of a first game at the gaming device, the game play being associated with the first account balance; and
allowing play of a second game with funds in the second account after determining that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred according to the reinvestment configuration, wherein the second game cannot be played using funds in the first account.
13. A system comprising:
a processor; and
a gaming device in communication with the processor and configured to perform the steps of:
determining at least one reinvestment configuration for determining whether a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account balance to a second account balance based on game play of a first game at the gaming device, the game play being associated with the first account balance; and
allowing play of a second game with funds in the second account after determining that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred according to the reinvestment configuration, wherein the second game cannot be played using funds in the first account.
14. A computer readable medium comprising;
instructions capable of directing a processor to perform the steps of:
determining at least one reinvestment configuration for determining whether a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred from a first account balance to a second account balance based on game play of a first game at a gaming device, the game play being associated with the first account balance; and
allowing play of a second game with funds in the second account after determining that a non-zero amount of credits should be transferred according to the reinvestment configuration, wherein the second game cannot be played using funds in the first account.
15. A method comprising:
receiving from a player, via a gaming device, an indication of a payout percentage to wager automatically, wherein the payout percentage may be less than 100%;
storing the indication of the payout percentage to wager automatically;
after receiving the indication,
executing an instance of a first game at a gaming device;
determining a payout amount for the instance of the first game; and
automatically determining a wager amount to wager on at least one instance of a second game at a gaming device,
in which the wager amount is based on the payout amount for the instance of the first game and the payout percentage to wager automatically; and
automatically wagering the wager amount on the at least one instance of the second game.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein the gaming device associated with the first game is the same gaming device associated with the second game.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the gaming device is a slot machine.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein the wager amount is equal to the payout amount times the payout percentage to wager automatically.
19. The method of claim 15, wherein the at least one instance of a second game comprises a plurality of instances of a second game; and
wherein a sum of the wagers for each instance of a second game is equal to the payout amount times the payout percentage to wager automatically.
20. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
storing the indication of the payout percentage on a player tracking card.
21. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
storing the indication of the payout percentage in a database.
22. The method of claim 21, wherein the database is accessible by the gaming device.
23. The method of claim 21, wherein the database is accessible by a server in communication with the gaming device.
24. The method of claim 21, wherein the indication is stored in the database in association with an identifier that identifies the player.
25. The method of claim 21, in which the database is a database of player preferences.
26. The method of claim 21, wherein the indication is stored in the database in association with an identifier that identifies the gaming device.
27. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
storing the indication of the payout percentage at a server.
28. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
transmitting the indication of the payout percentage to a server.
29. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
storing the indication of the payout percentage on a card device.
30. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
storing the indication of the payout percentage on a portable storage medium.
31. The method of claim 15, in which storing the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
storing the indication of the payout percentage on a magnetic medium.
32. The method of claim 15, in which receiving the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
receiving a storage medium that stores an indication of the payout percentage.
33. The method of claim 15, in which receiving the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
receiving the indication of the payout percentage from a portable storage medium.
34. The method of claim 15, in which receiving the indication of the payout percentage comprises:
receiving the indication of the payout percentage from a database.
35. The method of claim 15, in which receiving the indication comprises:
receiving an indication that the player has selected one of a plurality of options for payout percentages to wager automatically.
36. The method of claim 15, in which automatically wagering comprises:
automatically wagering the wager amount if the payout amount for the instance of the first game is greater than a predetermined amount.
37. An apparatus comprising:
a slot machine configured to perform the steps of:
receiving from a player an indication of a payout percentage to wager automatically, wherein the payout percentage may be less than 100%;
storing the indication of the payout percentage to wager automatically;
after receiving the indication,
executing an instance of a first game;
determining a payout amount for the instance of the first game; and
automatically determining a wager amount to wager on at least one instance of a second game,
in which the wager amount is based on the payout amount for the instance of the first game and the payout percentage to wager automatically; and
automatically wagering the wager amount on the at least one instance of the second game.
38. A system comprising:
a processor; and
a gaming device in communication with the processor and configured to perform the steps of:
receiving from a player an indication of a payout percentage to wager automatically, wherein the payout percentage may be less than 100%;
storing the indication of the payout percentage to wager automatically;
after receiving the indication,
executing an instance of a first game;
determining a payout amount for the instance of the first game; and
automatically determining a wager amount to wager on at least one instance of a second game,
in which the wager amount is based on the payout amount for the instance of the first game and the payout percentage to wager automatically; and
automatically wagering the wager amount on the at least one instance of the second game.
39. A computer readable medium comprising;
instructions capable of directing a processor to perform the steps of:
receiving from a player, via a gaming device, an indication of a payout percentage to wager automatically, wherein the payout percentage may be less than 100%;
storing the indication of the payout percentage to wager automatically;
after receiving the indication,
executing an instance of a first game;
determining a payout amount for the instance of the first game; and
automatically determining a wager amount to wager on at least one instance of a second game,
in which the wager amount is based on the payout amount for the instance of the first game and the payout percentage to wager automatically; and
automatically wagering the wager amount on the at least one instance of the second game.
40. A method comprising:
determining an amount deposited to a credit balance of a gaming device; and
determining a plurality of options to present to a player, in which each option corresponds to a respective condition for automatic wagering of a portion of a payout for a first game on a second game.
41. The method of claim 40, wherein each condition includes automatic wagering of a different percentage of the payout.
42. The method of claim 40, wherein each condition includes a requirement that a payout reach a different predetermined level prior to automatic wagering.
43. The method of claim 40, wherein each condition includes a requirement that a sum of payouts reach a different predetermined level prior to automatic wagering.
44. The method of claim 40, wherein each condition includes a requirement that a credit balance reach a different predetermined level prior to automatic wagering.
45. The method of claim 40, wherein determining the plurality of option is based at least in part on the amount deposited.
46. An apparatus comprising:
a gaming device configured to perform the steps of:
determining an amount deposited to a credit balance of the gaming device; and
determining a plurality of options to present to a player, in which each option corresponds to a respective condition for automatic wagering of a portion of a payout for a first game instance on a subsequent game instance.
47. A system comprising:
a processor; and
a gaming device in communication with the processor and configured to perform the steps of:
determining an amount deposited to a credit balance of the gaming device; and
determining a plurality of options to present to a player, in which each option corresponds to a respective condition for automatic wagering of a portion of a payout for a first game instance on a subsequent game instance.
48. A computer readable medium comprising;
instructions capable of directing a processor to perform the steps of:
determining an amount deposited to a credit balance of a gaming device; and
determining a plurality of options to present to a player, in which each option corresponds to a respective condition for automatic wagering of a portion of a payout for a first game instance on a subsequent game instance.
Description

This application claims priority to Provisional Patent Application No. 60/867,848, titled Systems, Methods and Apparatus for Reinvesting Slot Payouts, and filed on Nov. 30, 2006, the entirety of which has been incorporated by reference herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 2 illustrates a display screen in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 3 illustrates an example reinvestment database in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 4 illustrates a confirmation screen in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 6 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 7 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 8 illustrates a gaming device in accordance in example embodiments.

FIG. 9 illustrates a block diagram of a gaming device network in accordance with example embodiments.

FIG. 10 illustrates a system in accordance with example embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention relates to methods, apparatuses, systems and computer readable media for reinvestment of payouts at a gaming device, for example, a slot machine. More specifically, embodiments relate to manual and automatic reinvestment of payouts from a first game into a second game.

Casino owners and operators face high levels of competition. Although casino gaming previously was available in only a limited number of jurisdictions, casino patrons now have several choices when electing where to play.

Since casino profits are directly proportional to the amount wagered by patrons, casinos are highly motivated to expand and retain share within their given market. A vast majority of casino revenues and profits are derived from patrons who elect to place wagers via gaming devices, e.g., slot machines. Thus, casino owners and operators are particularly motivated to draw upon players and would-be players of slot machines and other gaming devices as a means of increasing profit levels.

Applicants have recognized that a need exists for systems and methods that help casinos and other operators of gaming devices to acquire new players, retain current players, and increase the profitability of gaming devices. One benefit of embodiments of the present invention is that they allow a player to automatically reinvest payouts from successful wagers into additional games, and thus provide a more entertaining experience for the player. For example, some embodiments of the present invention allow a player to reinvest in a previously unavailable game, e.g., a bonus game, or an additional payline in the primary game. In other words, beyond receiving a payout for a first game, embodiments of the present invention provide the player with the opportunity to enhance his gaming experience by automatically reinvesting all or part of the payout, e.g., allowing the player on a winning streak to increase his total payouts by betting on additional games, by allowing the player to play with “the house's money,” etc.

Another benefit of embodiments of the present invention is that the embodiments allow a player to be creative in customizing and/or selecting his reinvestment configuration at a gaming device. Further, the systems of the present invention allow a player to receive offers for secondary wagers that are based on information about the player and/or information about the player's gaming experience, so the player is more likely to reinvest. Further, the systems of the present invention allow a player to reinvest in games associated with one or more gaming devices. Thus, a player may be encouraged to play a gaming device offering the opportunity for more interactive gaming in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.

The term “game” may refer to a wagering event wherein a player posts a bet, an outcome is determined, and the bet is resolved. Examples include wagering an amount of electronic credits on a payline of a slot machine, wagering on a video poker hand, and using chips to place a bet on a table game. One game may include or contain multiple sub-games, which may be standalone games themselves or components of the overall game. For example, one slot machine spin may include wagers on a plurality of individual paylines. The spin may be considered a “game” and each individual payline may also each be considered a “game.” The terms “spin,” “game spin,” “instance,” “game instance,” “round,” “game round,” “play” and “game play” may also be considered a “game” for the purposes of the embodiments described herein.

The term “reinvestment configuration” may include a condition (e.g., a reinvestment condition), situation, preset, etc. in which all or a portion of a payout for a first game may be directly or indirectly reinvested as a wager on a second game. The first and second games may comprise different plays or rounds of the same game or game type, and may also be different sub-games, e.g., paylines, of a single game. A condition or configuration may be “triggered” or “activated,” for example by an event or occurrence.

The term “payout” refers to an amount of currency, credits or other benefit that may provided to the player, directly or indirectly, in response to a game win. A payout may be provided, for example, as cash, as a cashless gaming receipt, or may be deposited into an account associated with the player, e.g., a credit meter. An account may comprise a credit meter balance, or other balance, e.g., a comp point balance. Similarly, the term “win” or “winnings,” may refer to a game result itself or to a payout amount. The term “account” or “balance” may refer to a deposit of funds or other benefit. For example, “credit meter balance” may be an account in which a number of credits representing currency or another benefit may be deposited, stored and withdrawn by a user, e.g., a player or operator. The term “user” may refer to any person or entity that interacts with embodiments described herein, e.g., a player or operator of a game.

The term “automatic” may refer to any action that takes place without input or contribution from a user, e.g., a player or operator. For example, automatic reinvestment may be configured by a user in advance, and may be configured to occur in response to a triggering event, e.g., a player win or payout.

In accordance with example embodiments, a payout from a first wagering game may be reinvested into play of a second wagering game. The first and second games may be played at a gaming device, e.g., a slot machine, or via separate gaming devices. All or a portion of the payout may be reinvested, and the reinvestment may be automatic. Reinvestment options, such as the amount of a payout to reinvest, may be determined in advance or at the time of reinvestment, and may be determined by a player of the wagering games or by a game owner or operator. The second game may also be unavailable for play in the absence of the allocation of reinvestment funds from the first game.

In accordance with one embodiment, a slot machine automatically transfers or assigns all or a portion of a payout from a first payline and/or game to a separate credit balance that is associated with a different payline and/or game. In other words, a portion of the payout may be designated to be reinvested only for play of a different payline and/or game apart from the payline and/or game on the payout was won.

In accordance with one embodiment, a second game, e.g., payline, of a slot machine is activated for play only if and/or when there is a payout from a first game, e.g., a first payline. In one embodiment, the second game is active the next time the first game is played, and the two games, e.g. the two paylines, are in play (i.e., available for wagering) at the same time, e.g., during the same reel spin.

In accordance with one embodiment, a gaming device comprises a control (e.g., a button) that allows a player to toggle automatic reinvestment of payouts on and off. In one example, the gaming device checks the on/off status with respect to every game play. If automatic reinvestment is on, and any applicable triggering conditions are met, reinvestment is made automatically (e.g., by automatically wagering all or a portion of a payout earned from a first game on a play of a different game).

In accordance with one embodiment, a user (e.g., a player, a device manufacturer, a casino operator, etc.) may select options for reinvestment of payouts from a plurality of such options (e.g., how and/or when payouts are reinvested at a gaming device). These options may also be stored, e.g., at a gaming device. In one embodiment, reinvestment is automatically executed based on any previously selected option(s). For example, at least a portion of a payout for a first payline is allocated to a second payline in accordance with the stored rules. In another embodiment, a player is prompted to accept or confirm previously any previously selected option(s).

In accordance with some embodiments, at least one payline/set of reels may become active based on an event associated with a first payline/set of reels. In one embodiment, a balance associated with a second payline may not be available for wagering unless a player has activated the second payline based on play of a first game, e.g., play of the first payline, or obtaining a payout based on play of the first payline.

In accordance with one embodiment, a gaming device is operable to display an active first payline/set of reels and a locked or inactive second payline/set of reels, execute a first game play on the first payline/set of reels, determine a first payout for the first game play, activate the inactive second payline/set of reels, allocating at least a portion of the first payout to the second payline/set of reels (e.g., by establishing/funding an account or balance associated only with the second payline/set of reels), execute a second game play involving both the first and second paylines/sets of reels, and determine a payout or outcome based on the multiple paylines/sets of reels.

In accordance with one embodiment, a slot machine is operable to provide play involving multiple paylines, each payline having a respective credit balance associated with it. In one embodiment, all separate credit balances (for each active payline) may be drawn from simultaneously. In one embodiment, different paylines may be associated with different game types (e.g., a first payline is associated with a first slot theme and a second payline is associated with a second slot theme). In one embodiment, different credit balances may be associated with different game types (e.g., a first credit balance is associated with a slot game and a second credit balance is associated with a video poker game).

The foregoing and subsequent examples are for illustrative and descriptive purposes only and are not intended to limit the claimed invention in any way. The scope of the invention is defined by the claims. FIG. 1 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments. Various aspects will now be described with reference to the following example process steps. Note of course that, in accordance with some embodiments, various steps may not be necessary, and/or some example steps may occur in an alternate order, etc. Following the start of the process 101, a reinvestment configuration is determined 102, followed by play of a first game 103, e.g., by a player. The result of the first game is determined, i.e., whether the player has won the first game 104; if yes, a payout is provided to an account 105, and if not, play of the first game, or a new round of the first game, continues 103. After payout is provided to the account 105, a determination is made whether to allow play of a second game 106. This determination may be based on the reinvestment configuration 102. If play of the second game is allowed 106, the second game is played using at least a portion of the payout from the first game 107; play of the second game may be based on the reinvestment configuration 102. If the player wins the second game 108, a payout for the second game is provided to an account 109. The two accounts of steps 105 and 109 may be the same account, or may be different accounts. If the player does not win, it may again be determined whether continued play of the second game is permitted 106. If a cashout request is detected 110, the accounts associated with the payouts from the first and second games (which may be in separate accounts associated with the player) may be combined and outputted or provided to the player 111, and the process ends 112.

Determining a reinvestment configuration may be based entirely or partially on user input. The user may be a player, a casino owner or operator, or anyone with direct or remote access or ability to provide input. In the example of FIG. 1, the reinvestment configuration is determined 102 prior to initiating play of the first game 103, but the input or determination can occur any time prior to determining whether to allow play of the second game 106.

Determining the reinvestment configuration 102 may also contain multiple steps. For example, the play of the first game may trigger part of a reinvestment configuration, requiring user input to complete the determination of the reinvestment configuration 102. The user input may occur in advance of the triggering game play 103, or between the triggering game play 103 and the determination whether to allow play of the second game 106.

FIG. 2 illustrates a display screen 200 indicating some example configuration options that may be presented to a player, for example, prior to play of a first game. In one example, this display screen 200 may be part of a video slot machine and may be called up in response to a hard wired button or touch screen prompt by a user. The display screen 200 includes an instruction window 201, a trigger selection window 202, an amount selection window 203, a credit balance indicator 206, and “save” 205 and “return to main” 204 buttons.

The instruction window 201 provides information about the game and the reinvestment feature to a user, e.g., a player. The information may include a description of how the reinvestment feature works, the order of steps required, promotional language encouraging use of the reinvestment option, disclaimer information, etc.

The trigger selection window 202 may include a choice of conditions, e.g., reinvestment conditions, that may trigger reinvestment (or a prompt for reinvestment) and play of a second game. In the example illustrated by FIG. 2, the choices of conditions all correspond to payouts from the first game exceeding a certain amount; the user may choose to trigger reinvestment following any payout that exceeds 25, 50 or 100 coins. This selection will affect the overall expected frequency of the reinvestment configuration, based on the frequency of payouts exceeding the amounts provided as options.

The amount selection window 203 likewise may include a user-selectable amount and controls the amount to be reinvested and wagered on the second game once the reinvestment configuration has been activated. In this example, the reinvestment amount may be a fixed amount, which may be selected by the user (5 credits in this example), or may be automatically calculated based on, for example, the size of the payout for the first game (10% or 20% of the payout in this example).

The “save” button 205 stores the reinvestment parameters and may also trigger play of the first game. In some examples, the game may be permitted to be paused in progress, and parameters may be allowed to be adjusted during play of the first or second game. In this example, the “save” button 205 may be able to store the parameters and return to the game in progress. The “return to main” button 204 may be used to return to a main menu screen containing other game and player options. The display area may display a variety of information relevant to the player, such as a credit balance display 206, comp points balance (not shown) or other data.

Initiating play of the first game may also include selecting a preset reinvestment configuration. According to one embodiment, a hardware or software based “bet 3 times” button may be provided, which triggers play of a first game and automatically reinvests a payout in a second game on subsequent plays if the reinvestment configuration is activated. In this example, there are a variety of different possible outcomes: A player may win the first bet of the first game, in which case the second bet will be a play of the second game using a payout from the first bet. If the player loses the second bet, the third bet will be another play of the first game; if the player wins the second bet, the third bet will be another play of the second game, using a payout from the second bet. The player may lose the first bet of the first game, in which case the second bet is another play of the first game; a win of the second bet causes the third bet to be a play of the second game using a payout from the second bet. The behavior of the “bet 3 times” or similar multiple bet mechanisms may be determined in advance by a user and may be determined manually or via stored information, e.g., from player preferences stored on a player tracking card, or may alternatively be determined by a game operator, and the behavior of the “bet 3 times” button may be displayed to a player.

Once the reinvestment configuration is activated, a confirmation screen may be presented. The confirmation screen may be similar to the display screen 200 above, allowing reconfiguration of options such as how much to reinvest 203, or may provide a summary of the reinvestment configuration parameters. In some examples, the confirmation screen may provide the user with an opportunity to select further options relating to the second game, such as selecting a new slot payline that will be activated for the second game. This confirmation screen provides the user a greater amount of control over the reinvestment options prior to actual reinvestment and wagering on the second game. An example of an alternative confirmation screen is illustrated by FIG. 4, described in detail below.

In some embodiments, a player may be offered a benefit, such as more favorable odds or increased payouts, in exchange for agreeing to or configuring a reinvestment configuration. Other embodiments may include offering different numbers of options to different players. For example, players having a high player rating might be offered ten preset reinvestment options as opposed to a default number of three options. Some of these additional preset options may include more favorable odds or payouts. Other factors which could trigger more favorable odds include deposit amounts (e.g., inserting a $100 bill as opposed to a $20 bill activates a more favorable pay table), described in detail in U.S. Pat. No. 5,967,896 (“Method and apparatus for controlling a gaming device having a plurality of balances”), the relevant portions of which are hereby incorporated by reference. Accordingly, a casino or other gaming operator is able to offer more attractive payouts and odds while maintaining its profitability by limiting access thereto. For example, the casino may only allow reinvestment following particularly large payouts, which may be statistically infrequent in relation to other outcomes.

Alternatively, a casino or other operator can require automatic reinvestment. For example, reinvestment may fund a progressive jackpot, i.e., rather than funding the jackpot based on coin-in or on the total amount wagered, the jackpot may be funded from payouts to players. In these embodiments, a player may be permitted to opt out and forego a chance a the jackpot, or alternatively may not be allowed to opt out at all. In some embodiments, the player may be given the opportunity to reinvest at a level greater than the minimum amount required, and may receive a benefit for doing so, e.g., increased odds. In some embodiments, the reinvestment option may also be toggled on and off by a user, e.g., a player or operator, or automatically at the device or server level.

In addition to payout amounts that exceed a particular threshold, other results may trigger reinvestment. Embodiments include: any winning outcome, consecutive winning outcomes, “second best” or “near miss” outcomes (e.g., “Cherry-Cherry-Bar” at a slot game, or failing to improve from two pair to a full house at a Video Poker game), or any winning outcome after a losing streak (e.g., the first win after four or more consecutive losses). Other embodiments include: a winning outcome that leaves a player's credit balance over a predetermined amount, a credit meter associated with a second set of reels (or video poker hand) reaching a predetermined amount, or having at least one credit associated with each of a plurality of meters, e.g., having one credit in each of three respective sets of reels.

The amount to reinvest may vary as well. In addition to the fixed and proportional amounts shown above in the amount selection window 203 of FIG. 2, the amount may be in response to a prompt outputted to a player (e.g., “Win of 50 credits. Please enter an amount to reinvest.”), based on a net win over a session or a period of time, or may be based on a combination of the above. For example, a condition may be configured to reinvest 100% of player's wins between 10 and 20 credits, 75% of player's wins between 20 and 25 credits, 50% of player's wins between 25 and 30 credits, etc.

Reinvestment may also be allocated among different games, or among different aspects of a single second game. For example, for a slot based second game, reinvestment may be allocated among different reels or paylines of the slot game. Alternatively, the second game may comprise additional paylines or reels of the first game and may be played in one spin.

Any or all of the above reinvestment information may be stored in a reinvestment database, an example of which is illustrated by FIG. 3. The example reinvestment database 300 of FIG. 3 comprises a Player ID field 301, three Reinvestment Condition fields 302-304 corresponding to Win Amount 302, Outcome Type 303 and Credit Balance 304, a Reinvestment Amount field 305, and a Reinvestment Allocation field 306. As discussed above, a reinvestment configuration may include one or more of these reinvestment conditions and other criteria.

The specific data and fields illustrated in these drawings represent only some embodiments of the records stored in the databases described herein. The data and fields of these databases can be readily modified, for example, to include more or fewer data fields. Multiple databases also may be employed. In at least one embodiment, fields that are similarly named (e.g., player identifier fields) may store similar or the same data in a similar or in the same data format.

As will be understood by those skilled in the art, the schematic illustrations and accompanying descriptions of the sample databases presented herein are exemplary arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by the table shown. Similarly, the illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; those skilled in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those illustrated herein. Further, despite the depiction of the databases as tables, an object-based model could be used to store and manipulate the data types of the present invention and likewise, object methods or behaviors can be used to implement the processes of the present invention.

The Player ID field 301 may include a player identifier (e.g., P-00001) corresponding to a player, to a saved reinvestment configuration, or a combination thereof. Player ID P-000001 corresponds to a Reinvestment Condition of any win greater than zero coins 302, wherein 50% of the win is reinvested 305, and wherein the allocation of reinvestment is to be decided 306, e.g., via a subsequent prompt to a player. Player ID P-000354 corresponds to a Reinvestment Condition of any win greater than fifty (50) coins 302 and a second Reinvestment Condition of an outcome wherein the first reel is a seven (7) 303, wherein the reinvestment amount is twenty five (25) coins 305 to be allocated to Slot Game Two 306. Player ID P-023452 corresponds to a Reinvestment Condition of any win between twenty five (25) and seventy five (75) coins 302, and a second Reinvestment Condition of a credit balance above twenty five (25) coins 304, wherein the reinvestment amount is 100% of the win 305, and wherein the reinvestment is allocated to Paylines Four (4) through Nine (9) 306. Player ID P-009936 corresponds to a Reinvestment Condition of any win equaling one hundred (100) coins 302, and a second Reinvestment Condition of a credit balance above fifty (50) coins 304, wherein the Reinvestment Amount is ten (10) coins 305, allocated to Poker Game One (1) 306. Player ID P-002983 corresponds to three Reinvestment Conditions 302-304: any win greater than zero (0) coins 302, any outcome wherein the first reel is “BAR” 303, and a credit balance between fifty (50) and one hundred (100) coins 304. If all three of these conditions are met, 25% of the win 305 is allocated to a wager on Reel Set 3 306.

Determining the result of a first game may be performed in a manner known in the art, e.g., by posting a wager at a slot machine game and pressing a spin button, at which time the result is determined via a random number generator. In many embodiments, a player may be offered a plurality of games available for play, but only a subset will qualify as a first game capable of triggering reinvestment. The result may take additional data into account as well. For example, a number of consecutive wins or losses, or an amount of a credit balance may be taken into account when determining the result of the first game.

Once a result of the first game has been determined, a payout (if any) is provided. In many embodiments, the payout is paid into a player's credit meter balance, normally the same balance or account that funds the original wager. In some embodiments, the payout may be placed in a separate account, or withheld altogether, pending an indication or confirmation of a reinvestment configuration.

Determining whether to allow play of the second game may occur continually, periodically, or on an event-triggered basis, e.g., after each first game result. This determining step may include determining whether to enable, activate, or unlock play of a second wagering game (e.g., a second wagering game, or a new, previously hidden payline in the first slot game).

As indicated above, determining whether to allow play of the second game may be based on multiple criteria. For example, in some embodiments, as different criteria are met, the gaming device may provide a respective indication thereof. In one embodiment, the gaming device may indicate how a player is advancing through multiple phases or stages (e.g., each phase may be associated with one or more criteria) to reach a point where play of the second game is allowed. For example, upon meeting one of two required criteria, a hidden payline representing the second game may be displayed, but not activated. Upon meeting the second criterion, the payline is activated.

The second game may be further distinguished from the first game in many embodiments. For example, the second game may include a different graphical theme or skin, different payouts or probabilities, different expected value or hold percentage, or may comprise a different game style altogether (e.g., video poker as opposed to slots).

Executing play of the second game may occur automatically in some embodiments. For example, after reinvestment is triggered, the second game may begin automatically based on the determined reinvestment configuration. In other embodiments, play of the second game may occur after a time period of no activity, e.g., 10 seconds, or a time period specified by a prompt outputted to a player, e.g., via a confirmation screen. Alternatively, execution of the second game may require action by the user, such as actuation of an input device, e.g., a physical spin button or touch screen button.

As discussed above, some embodiments include a confirmation screen allowing a user to continue or cancel reinvestment. FIG. 4 illustrates an example of a confirmation screen 400 according to one embodiment. Confirmation screen 400 includes information display window 401, first game window 402, credit meter balance displays 403-405, first game reel display 406 including game result display 407, second game window 408, second game reinvestment amount display 409, second game reel display 410 including spin actuator 411, cancellation button 412, and net credit meter display 413. Information display window 401 contains information relating to the reinvestment configuration. Within the first game window 402, credit meter balance displays 403-405 show a player's balance prior to the current spin 403, net win/loss amount for the present spin (payout for the first game minus reinvestment) 404 and the current total available for cash out 405. First game reel display 406 illustrates a set of three reels and a payline for the first game; a game result display 407 of the payout for the first game (50 credits) is superimposed over the first game reel display 406. Within the second game window, 408, second game reinvestment amount display 409 shows the amount of coins that will be reinvested in a second game. Note that the net win/loss amount for the present first game spin 404 (45 credits) in the first game window 402 is equal to the posted payout for the first game (50 credits) minus the reinvestment amount (5 coins). Second game reel display 410 illustrates a second set of reels and payline for the second game (the “Super Jackpot Re-Bet Game”). Superimposed over the second game display 410 is a spin actuator 411 (“Press here to spin”) for initiating the second game. Cancellation button 412 (“Cancel reinvest”) permits the player to opt out of reinvestment and continue play of the first game. Finally, the net credit meter balance 413 indicates the total number of credits available for cashout.

It should be noted that many variations on the above embodiments are contemplated, and that features may be added, omitted or modified as desired. Additional example embodiments are described below.

Reinvestment may occur over a series of rounds. For example, a payout from a second game may be reinvested into a third game, and so on. In one embodiment, if a first payline of a slot game is a winner, some portion of a payout (e.g., 25%) “cascades” down to a second payline. If the second line is a winner, some portion of the payout cascades down to a third payline, and so on. One effect of this behavior is that winning streaks may be made more exciting to a player as payouts are automatically reinvested into increasing numbers of paylines the longer the streak continues. This cascading behavior may also be represented graphically, e.g., at a display screen of a device. For example, a display may show a graphical representation of a portion of a payout for a first spin “cascading” into a previously unavailable payline for a second spin. In one embodiment, if a predetermined number of lines are activated in this cascading manner, some additional benefit may ensue (e.g., super bonus round, etc.).

In some embodiments, reinvestment may occur retroactively to outcomes that have already been determined. For example, a player indicates he wants to reinvest 10 coins on any win of a slot game over 50 coins, to be reinvested in paylines that are not selected on the initial spin. The player spins the reels, activating 10 of 15 available paylines. The player hits on two of 10 activated paylines for a total win of 60 coins. 10 coins are “reinvested” on the 5 paylines the player did not previously activate, allowing the player to realize (“retroactively”) any payouts based on the outcome on those 5 paylines. In one embodiment, the amount credited to a player may differ if applied to different balances. In one example, a player wins X coins playing a second wagering game. The player may get the X coins for allocating these back to the balance associated with the second wagering game, or he may get X+Y coins for allocating them to a different balance. In one embodiment, the player is prompted (e.g., via a display screen) with an offer for the bonus for allocating the coins to the different balance.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments. Again, in accordance with some embodiments, various steps may not be necessary, and/or some example steps may occur in an alternate order, etc. Similar to the process of FIG. 1, described in detail above, following the start of the process 501, a reinvestment configuration is determined 502, followed by play of a first game 503, e.g., by a player. The result of the first game is determined, i.e., whether the player has won the first game 504; if yes, a payout is provided to a first account 505, and if not, play of the first game, or a new round of the first game, continues 503. After payout is provided to the first account 505, a determination is made whether to allow play of a second game 506. This determination may be based on the reinvestment condition 502. If play of the second game is allowed 506, the payout, or a portion thereof, from the last game (in this case, the first game) is transferred from the first account to a second account 513; the second account may be associated with the second game. The second game is then played using funds from the second account 507; play of the second game may be based on the reinvestment configuration 502. If the player wins the second game 508, a payout for the second game is provided to the first account 509. If the player does not win, it may again be determined whether continued play of the second game is permitted 506; if yes, then a portion of the last game payout (in this case, the second game), is again transferred from the first account to the second account. If a cashout request is detected 510, the first and second accounts may be combined and outputted or provided to the player 511, and the process ends 512.

In some embodiments, the second game may only be playable using funds from the second account. The second account may only be capable of receiving funds via reinvestment, e.g., via payouts from the first game, or via transfers from the first account. Payouts may also be allocated among more than one account; for example, a portion of a payout from a first game need not be first deposited to the first account prior to being deposited in the second account.

FIG. 6 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments. Again, in accordance with some embodiments, various steps may not be necessary, and/or some example steps may occur in an alternate order, etc. Similar to the process of FIGS. 1 and 5, described in detail above, following the start of the process 601, a payout percentage to wager automatically is determined 602, followed by play of a first game 603, e.g., by a player. The payout percentage to wager automatically 602 may be a form of reinvestment configuration. The result of the first game is determined, i.e., whether the player has won the first game 604; if yes, a payout is provided to an account 605, and if not, play of the first game, or a new round of the first game, continues 603. After the first game payout is provided to the account 605, a determination is made whether to allow play of a second game 606. This determination may be based on the payout percentage determined in step 602. If play of the second game is allowed 606, an amount to wager automatically on the second game is determined 613; this determination may also be based on the payout percentage determined in step 602. The second game is then played using funds from the account 607; play of the second game may be based on the reinvestment configuration 602. If the player wins the second game 608, a payout for the second game is provided to an account 609 (similar to the embodiment of FIG. 1, the accounts of step 605 and 609 may be separate accounts or the same account). If the player does not win, it may again be determined whether continued play of the second game is permitted 606. If a cashout request is detected 610, the first and second accounts may be combined and outputted or provided to the player 611, and the process ends 612.

FIG. 7 illustrates a flowchart representation of a process in accordance with example embodiments. Again, in accordance with some embodiments, various steps may not be necessary, and/or some example steps may occur in an alternate order, etc. Similar to the process of FIGS. 1, 5 and 6, described in detail above, following the start of the process 701, a plurality of automatic wagering options is presented 714, e.g., to a player. Based on the option that is selected, an automatic wagering configuration is determined 702, followed by play of a first game 703, e.g., by a player. The result of the first game is determined, i.e., whether the player has won the first game 704; if yes, a payout is provided to an account 705, and if not, play of the first game, or a new round of the first game, continues 703. After the first game payout is provided to the account 705, a determination is made whether the automatic wagering configuration has been met 706. If the automatic wagering condition has been met 706, the second game is then played automatically using all or a portion of the first game payout 707; play of the second game may be based on the automatic wagering configuration 702. If the player wins the second game 708, a payout for the second game is provided to an account 709 (similar to the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 6, the accounts of step 705 and 709 may be separate accounts or the same account). If the player does not win, it may again be determined whether the automatic wagering configuration has been met 706. If a cashout request is detected 710, the first and second accounts may be combined and outputted or provided to the player 711, and the process ends 712.

Referring now to FIG. 8, an embodiment 800 of a plan view of a gaming device is illustrated. In the embodiment 800, the gaming device comprises a three reel slot machine. The slot machine 800 comprises a display area 805 in which an outcome for a game of the slot machine is displayed to the player. The display area 805 may, for example, be a video display that displays simulations of reels. The display area 805 may, in another example, be glass behind which are located mechanical reels. Display area 805 is an exemplary embodiment of the display device 935, described below with respect to FIG. 9.

Within display area 805 is a first (center or main) payline 815, second (top) payline 815A and third (bottom) payline 815B. In accordance with some embodiments of the present invention, an outcome of a game is a set of symbols displayed along a payline of a reeled slot machine. Slot machine 800 exemplifies such embodiments.

Slot machine 800 further comprises a handle 820. A player may initiate the movement of the reels in display area 805 by pulling on the handle 820. Alternatively, a player may initiate the movement of the reels in display 805 by actuating the start button 825. Either or both of handle 820 and start button 825 are exemplary embodiments of the input device 940, described with respect to FIG. 9 below.

Slot machine 800 also comprises a player tracking device 830, which is an example of the player tracking device 955 described with respect to FIG. 9 below. The player tracking device 830 may comprise a player tracking card reader and a display (e.g., an LED display) for outputting information related to the player identifier (e.g., player's name and number of comp points associated with player's account). Also a component of slot machine 800 is another display area 835, for outputting information to a player. The display area 835 may be utilized, for example, to prompt a player to reinvest a portion of the player's payout from the main payline 815 as one or more wagers on additional paylines, e.g., top and bottom paylines 815A and 815B. In this example, display area 835 may be configured to output information to a player relating to reinvestment; e.g., a message encouraging the player to “BET 10% OF YOUR WINNINGS ON THE TOP AND BOTTOM PAYLINES ON THE NEXT SPIN!”

Payment system 840, an exemplary embodiment of payment system 950, described below with respect to FIG. 9, comprises a bill acceptor 845, a credit card reader 850, and a coin acceptor 855. A player may utilize payment system 840 to provide a wager for playing a game.

Slot machine 800 further comprises a credit meter balance 860, which is an exemplary embodiment of a benefit output device 930 that is described with respect to FIG. 9. The credit meter balance 860 reflects the amount of electronic credits currently available to a player. The electronic credits may be used by a player, for example, as wagers for games played on the gaming device. The electronic credits may also be “cashed out” as coins, bills, tokens, a cashless gaming receipt, and/or credits to another financial account associated with the player.

The slot machine 800 includes yet another display area, display area 865, which displays a payout schedule of the slot machine 800. The payout schedule displays payouts that correspond to various outcomes obtainable on the slot machine 800. In one or more embodiments, if an outcome is displayed in display area 805 that, as indicated in display area 865, corresponds to a payout, the credit meter balance 860 may be increased by an amount of electronic credits corresponding to the payout. In one or more embodiments, one or more of the outcomes associated with a payout in the display area 865 also have a second payout associated with the outcome in the memory of the slot machine 800. The second payout for a particular outcome will typically be greater than the payout displayed in display area 805 for the outcome. In such embodiments, if a payout that corresponds to such a second payout is displayed in display area 805, the difference between the second payout and the first payout is added to the account associated with the player. This or other display areas may also include a description of reinvestment options or rules in accordance with example embodiments.

Finally, the slot machine 800 comprises a coin tray 870. Payment to the player may be rendered by dispensing coins into the coin tray 870. Such coins may be dispensed based on, for example, a player's indication that the player would like to cash out his credit meter balance and/or a payout obtained by a player as a result of playing a game on the slot machine 800. The coin tray 870 is an exemplary embodiment of the benefit output device 930, described with respect to FIG. 9. Note that slot machine 800 may include different and/or additional components besides those illustrated in FIG. 8.

Referring now to FIG. 9, illustrated therein is a block diagram of an embodiment 900 of a gaming device (e.g., slot machine as described with respect to FIG. 8 above). The embodiment 900 is referred to herein as gaming device 900. The gaming device 900 may be implemented as a system controller, a dedicated hardware circuit, an appropriately programmed general-purpose computer, or any other equivalent electronic, mechanical or electro-mechanical device. The gaming device 900 may comprise, for example, a slot machine, a video poker terminal, a video blackjack terminal, a video keno terminal, a video lottery terminal, a pachinko machine or a table-top game such as a manual table game, a smart table or electronic table game. In various embodiments, a gaming device may comprise, for example, a personal computer (e.g., which communicates with an online casino Web site), a telephone (e.g., to communicate with an automated sports book that provides gaming services), or a portable handheld gaming device (e.g., a personal digital assistant or Nintendo GameBoy). In some embodiments, the gaming device 900 may comprise a device operable to facilitate a table game (e.g., a device operable to monitor a blackjack game, such as size of a player's wager, cards received and/or decisions made). In some embodiments, a user device such as a PDA or cell phone may be used in place of, or in addition to, some or all of the gaming device 900 components.

Further, a gaming device 900 may comprise a personal computer or other device operable to communicate with an online casino and facilitate game play at the online casino. In one or more embodiments, the gaming device 900 may comprise a computing device operable to execute software that simulates play of a reeled slot machine game, video poker game, video blackjack game, video keno game, video roulette game, or lottery game.

The example gaming device 900 comprises a processor 905, such as one or more Intel® Pentium® processors. The processor 905 is in communication with a memory 910 and a communication port 915. The memory 910 may comprise an appropriate combination of magnetic, optical and/or semiconductor memory, and may include, for example, Random Access Memory (RAM), Read-Only Memory (ROM), a compact disc and/or a hard disk. The memory 910 may comprise or include any type of computer-readable medium. The processor 905 and the memory 910 may each be, for example: (i) located entirely within a single computer or other device; or (ii) connected to each other by a remote communication medium, such as a serial port cable, telephone line or radio frequency transceiver. In one embodiment, the gaming device 900 may comprise one or more devices that are connected to a remote server computer for maintaining databases.

The memory 910 stores a program 920 for controlling the processor 905. The processor 905 performs instructions of the program 920, and thereby operates in accordance with the present invention, and particularly in accordance with the methods described in detail herein. The program 920, as well as any other program for controlling a processor described herein, may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled and/or encrypted format. The following description of program 920 applies equally to all programs for directing a processor described herein. The program 920 furthermore includes program elements that may be necessary, such as an operating system, a database management system and “device drivers” for allowing the processor 905 to interface with computer peripheral devices. Appropriate program elements are known to those skilled in the art, and need not be described in detail herein.

According to an embodiment, the instructions of the program 920 may be read into a main memory from another computer-readable medium, such from a ROM to RAM. Execution of sequences of the instructions in program 920 may cause processor 905 to perform one or more process steps described herein. In alternate embodiments, hard-wired circuitry may be used in place of, or in combination with, software instructions for implementation of the processes of the present invention. Thus, embodiments described herein are not limited to any specific combination of hardware and software.

The memory 910 may also store one or more databases, including a player database 970 and a reinvestment database 980 (e.g., reinvestment database 300, described in detail with respect to FIG. 3). Examples of these databases are described in detail with respect to FIG. 10 below. The memory may also store a probability database, payout database and other databases (not shown). The fields of a probability database may specify, for example: (i) a random number (or range of random numbers) that may be generated by a random number generator; and (ii) an outcome that indicates the one or more indicia comprising the outcome that corresponds to the random number of a particular record. A gaming device 900 may utilize a probability database to determine, for example, what outcome corresponds to a random number generated by a random number generator and to display the determined outcome. The outcomes may comprise the three symbols to be displayed along the payline of a three-reel slot machine. Other arrangements of probability databases are possible. For example, the book “Winning At Slot Machines” by Jim Regan (Carol Publishing Group Edition, 1997) illustrates examples of payout and probability tables and how they may be derived. The entirety of this book is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.

The fields of a payout database may specify, for example: (i) an outcome, which indicates the one or more indicia comprising a given outcome; and (ii) a payout that corresponds to each respective outcome. If gaming device 900 comprises a three-reel slot machine, for example, the outcomes may be those obtained on a three-reel slot machine.

A gaming device 900 may utilize a payout database to determine whether a payout should be output to a player as a result of an outcome obtained for a game. For example, after determining the outcome to output on the gaming device, the gaming device may access the payout database to determine whether the outcome for output is one of the outcomes stored as corresponding to a payout. If it is, the gaming device may provide the corresponding payout to the player via a benefit output device described herein. Other arrangements of payout databases are possible. For example, the book “Winning At Slot Machines” by Jim Regan (Carol Publishing Group Edition, 1997), previously incorporated by reference, illustrates many examples of payout and probability tables and how they may be derived. The payout database may also be based on various reinvestment configurations, described in detail above.

In one or more embodiments, as described, data may be stored in a memory of another device (e.g., a database of a controller or a database of another server device). In one or more embodiments, gaming device 900 may be operable to access the data thereof or have information associated with the data, e.g., reinvestment configurations and related information, stored therein downloaded to the gaming device as necessary and/or appropriate.

Note that, although the databases and list described above are described as being stored in a gaming device 900, in other embodiments of the present invention some or all of these databases and/or list may be partially or wholly stored (in addition to or in lieu of being stored in the memory 910 of the gaming device 900) in another device. Further, some or all of the data described as being stored in the databases and/or list described above may be partially or wholly stored (in addition to or in lieu of being stored in the memory 910 of the gaming device 900) in a memory of one or more other devices.

The processor 905 is also operable to communicate with a random number generator 925, which may be a component of gaming device 900. The random number generator 925 (as well as any other random number generator described herein), in accordance with at least one embodiment, may generate data representing random or pseudo-random values (referred to as “random numbers” herein). The random number generator may generate a random number every predetermined unit of time (e.g., every second) or in response to an initiation of a game on the gaming device. In the former embodiment, the generated random numbers may be used as they are generated (e.g., the random number generated at substantially the time of game initiation is used for that game) and/or stored for future use.

A random number generator, as used herein, may be embodied as a processor separate from but working in cooperation with processor 905. Alternatively, a random number generator may be embodied as an algorithm, program component, or software stored in the memory of a gaming device or other device and used to generate a random number.

Note that, although the generation or obtainment of a random number is described herein as involving a random number generator of a gaming device, other methods of determining a random number may be employed. For example, a gaming device owner or operator may obtain sets of random numbers that have been generated by another entity. HotBits™, for example, is a service that provides random numbers that have been generated by timing successive pairs of radioactive decays detected by a Geiger-Muller tube interfaced to a computer. A blower mechanism that uses physical balls with numbers thereon may be used to determine a random number by randomly selecting one of the balls and determining the number thereof.

The processor 905 is also operable to communicate with a benefit output device 930, which may be a component of gaming device 900. The benefit output device 930 may comprise one or more devices for outputting a benefit to a player of the gaming device 900. For example, in one embodiment the gaming device 900 may provide coins and/or tokens as a benefit. In such an embodiment the benefit output device 930 may comprise a hopper and hopper controller, for dispensing coins and/or tokens into a coin tray of the gaming device 900.

In another example, the gaming device 900 may provide a receipt or other document on which there is printed an indication of a benefit (e.g., a cashless gaming receipt that has printed thereon a monetary value, which is redeemable for cash in the amount of the monetary value). In such an embodiment the benefit output device 930 may comprise a printing and document dispensing mechanism. In yet another example, the gaming device 900 may provide electronic credits as a benefit (which, e.g., may be subsequently converted to coins and/or tokens and dispensed from a hopper into a coin tray). In such an embodiment the benefit output device 930 may comprise a credit meter balance and/or a processor that manages the amount of electronic credits that is indicated on a display of a credit meter balance. In some embodiments, described in detail above, the benefit output device 930 may comprise multiple credit meter balances associated with different games or portions of a game. The processor may be the processor 905 or another processor. In yet another example, the gaming device 900 may credit a monetary amount to a financial account associated with a player as a benefit provided to a player. The financial account may be, for example, a credit card account, a debit account, a charge account, a checking account, and/or a casino account. In such an embodiment the benefit output device 930 may comprise a device for communicating with a server on which the financial account is maintained.

Note that, in one or more embodiments, the gaming device 900 may include more than one benefit output device 930. For example, the gaming device 900 may include both a hopper and hopper controller combination and a credit meter balance. Such a gaming device may be operable to provide more than one type of benefit to a player of the gaming device. A single benefit output device 930 may be operable to output more than one type of benefit. For example, a benefit output device 930 may be operable to increase the balance of credits in a credit meter and communicate with a remote device in order to increase the balance of a financial account associated with a player.

The processor 905 is also operable to communicate with a display device 935, which may be a component of gaming device 900. The display device 935 may comprise, for example, one or more display screens or areas for outputting information related to game play on the gaming device, such as a cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, or light emitting diode (LED) screen. The display device may display information relating to the example embodiments described in detail above, e.g., the embodiments illustrated by FIGS. 2 and 4.

In one or more embodiments, a gaming device 900 may comprise more than one display device 935. For example, a gaming device 900 may comprise an LCD display for displaying electronic reels and a display device that comprises a viewing window behind which are located mechanical reels and which displays the rotation of the mechanical reels during game play.

In one embodiment, a display device 935 may be operable to display a message to a player. For example, a message targeted at encouraging or verifying reinvestment (see, e.g., FIGS. 2 and 4) may be presented to the player during game play.

The processor 905 may also be in communication with one or more other devices besides the display device 935, for outputting information (e.g., to a player or another device). Such other one or more output devices may also be components of gaming device 900. Such other one or more output devices may comprise, for example, an audio speaker (e.g., for outputting a message to a player, in addition to or in lieu of such a message being output via a display device 935), an infra-red transmitter, a radio transmitter, an electric motor, a printer (e.g., such as for printing cashless gaming vouchers), a coupon or product dispenser, an infra-red port (e.g., for communicating with a second gaming device or a portable device of a player), a Braille computer monitor, and a coin or bill dispenser. For gaming devices, common output devices include a cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor on a video poker machine, a bell on a gaming device (e.g., rings when a player wins), an LED display of a player's credit balance on a gaming device, an LCD display of a personal digital assistant (PDA) for displaying keno numbers.

The display device 935 may comprise, for example, one or more distinct display areas and/or one or more distinct display devices. For example, one of the display areas may display outcomes of games played on the gaming device (e.g., electronic reels of a gaming device). Another of the display areas may display rules for playing a game of the gaming device. Yet another of the display areas may display the benefits obtainable by playing a game of the gaming device (e.g., in the form of a payout table). Yet another of the display areas may display messages to the player (e.g., messages targeted at curbing inappropriate gambling behavior of problem gamblers or potential problem gamblers). In one or more embodiments, the gaming device 900 may include more than one display device, one or more other output devices, or a combination thereof (e.g., two display devices and two audio speakers).

The processor 905 is also in communication with an input device 940, which is a device that is capable of receiving an input (e.g., from a player or another device) and which may be a component of gaming device 900. An input device may communicate with or be part of another device (e.g. a server, a gaming device, etc.). Some examples of input devices include: a bar-code scanner, a magnetic stripe reader, a computer keyboard or keypad, a button (e.g., mechanical, electromechanical or “soft”, as in a portion of a touch-screen), a handle, a keypad, a touch-screen, a microphone, an infrared sensor, a voice recognition module, a coin or bill acceptor, a sonic ranger, a computer port, a video camera, a motion detector, a digital camera, a network card, a universal serial bus (USB) port, a GPS receiver, a radio frequency identification (RFID) receiver, an RF receiver, a thermometer, a pressure sensor, an infrared port (e.g., for receiving communications from with a second gaming device or a another device such as a smart card or PDA of a player), and a weight scale. For gaming devices, common input devices include a button or touch screen on a video poker machine or slot machine (e.g., the “bet 3 times” button described in detail above), a lever or handle connected to the gaming device, a magnetic stripe reader to read a player tracking card inserted into a gaming device, a touch screen for input of player selections during game play, and a coin and bill acceptor. Input device 940 may comprise any of the above-described input device or any combination thereof (i.e., input device 940 may comprise more than one input device).

In some embodiments, a gaming device 900 may comprise components capable of facilitating both input and output functions (i.e., input/output devices). In one example, a touch-sensitive display screen comprises an input/output device (e.g., the device outputs graphics and receives selections from players). In another example, a processor may communicate with a “ticket-in/ticket-out” device configured to dispense and receive cash-out tickets. Such a device may also assist in (e.g., provide data so as to facilitate) various accounting functions (e.g., ticket validation and redemption). For example, any or all of a gaming device, kiosk and casino personnel device maintained at a cashier cage may (i) comprise such a benefit input/output device, and/or (ii) communicate with a central server that manages the accounting associated with such ticket-in/ticket-out transactions (e.g., so as to track the issuance, redemption and expiration of such tickets). One example of ticket-in/ticket-out technology that may be adapted or utilized to implement embodiments described herein is the EZ Pay™ system, is manufactured by IGT™, headquartered in Reno, Nev.

Of course, as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, a gaming device 900 may comprise various combinations of any or all of the component devices described herein. For example, in one or more embodiments, the gaming device may include more than one display device, one or more other output devices, several input devices, and so on (e.g., two display screens, two audio speakers, a headset, a ticket-in/ticket-out device and several buttons).

The processor 905 is also in communication with a payment system 950, which may be a component of gaming device 900. The payment system 950 is a device capable of accepting payment from a player (e.g., a bet or initiation of a balance) and/or providing payment to a player (e.g., a payout). Payment is not limited to currency, but may also include other types of consideration, including products, services, and alternate currencies. Payment system 950 may be considered to be an example of an input device 940 in some embodiments.

Exemplary methods of accepting payment by the payment system 950 include (i) receiving hard currency (i.e., coins or bills), and accordingly the payment system 950 may comprise a coin or bill acceptor; (ii) receiving an alternate currency (e.g., a paper cashless gaming voucher, a coupon, a non-negotiable token), and accordingly the payment system 950 may comprise a bar code reader or other sensing means; (iii) receiving a payment identifier (e.g., a credit card number, a debit card number, a player tracking card number) and debiting the account identified by the payment identifier; and (iv) determining that a player has performed a value-added activity.

Processor 905 may also be in communication with a player tracking device 955, which may be a component of gaming device 900. Player tracking device 955 may, in some embodiments, be considered an example of an input device 940. Player tracking device 955 may, in one or more embodiments, comprise a reader device operable to read information from and/or write information to a card such as a smart card and/or a player tracking card, such that (i) players may be identified, and (ii) various data associated with players may then be determined. For example, previous wagering, coin-in and/or cash-out behaviors previously engaged in by the player may be determined based on information associated with the player identifier. In another example, previous strategies employed in a video poker game may be similarly determined. Similarly, a number of cashable credits available to the player may be determined, a number of promotional credits that may not be redeemed for cash but that are associated with the player may be determined, a code or other indication of a benefit to be provided to the player may be determined, a number of accumulated loyalty points associated with the player may be determined, a number of accumulated game elements such as symbols, cards or hands associated with the player may be determined, etc.

In one example, a card reader device comprising a player tracking device 955 may determine an identifier associated with a player (e.g., by reading a player tracking card comprising an encoded version of the identifier), such that the gaming device may then access data (e.g., of a player database, a session database) associated with the player. In another example, a smart card reader device may determine data associated with a player directly by accessing a memory of an inserted smart card.

As described in more detail below, a player database may be used, for example, to store player wager data (e.g., such that players wagering over a given threshold in a given amount of time may be rewarded for their patronage, qualify for certain features, be identified as a potential problem gambler, and so on). The player database may also contain other information that may be useful in, for example, promoting and managing player behaviors (e.g., information about the player's gaming preferences, lodging arrangements, and the like). Such player data may be stored in a relational database and retrieved or otherwise accessed by the processor after receiving a “key” data point from the player, such as a unique identifier read from the player's player tracking card or cashout ticket. This player data may be used, for example, in determining which reinvestment options to present to a player.

In one embodiment, the player tracking device 955 may comprise (i) a card reader (e.g., a port into which player tracking cards may be inserted), (ii) various input devices (e.g., a keypad, a touch-screen), (iii) various output devices (e.g., a small, full-color display screen), and/or (iv) combinations thereof (e.g., a touch-sensitive display screen that accommodates both input and output functions). Various commercially available devices may be suitable for such an application, such as the NextGen™ interactive player tracking panel manufactured by IGT™ or the iVIEW display screen manufactured by Bally® Gaming and Systems.

As known in the art, “smart cards” may incorporate (i) a memory, and (ii) means for accessing such a memory. For example, in one embodiment, the memory may store data related to aspects of the present invention. In one embodiment, data may be written to the smart card as a player plays one or more gaming devices (e.g., such that various data may be updated on a continuous, periodic or event-triggered bases). Accordingly, in one or more embodiments one or more devices operable to carry out various processes of the present invention (e.g., a gaming device 900 or controller) may have associated therewith a smart card reader device, such that data may be read from the smart card pursuant to the execution of such processes. An example of a smart card system that may be used to implement one or more embodiments of the present invention is the s-Choice™ Smart Card Casino Management System from Smart Card Integrators, Inc.™.

Of course, other non-card-based methods of identifying players are contemplated. For example, a unique identification code may be associated with the player. The player may then be identified upon entering the code. For example, the code may be stored (e.g., within a database maintained within a gaming device 900 or controller) such that the player may enter the code using an input device of a gaming device, and accordingly allow the player to be uniquely identified. In other embodiments, player biometrics may serve as identification means (e.g., a player is identified via a thumbprint or retinal scan of the player). In further embodiments, a barcode of a cashless gaming ticket may encode a player identifier.

Thus, as described, various data associated with a player may be tracked and stored (e.g., in an appropriate record of a centrally-maintained database), such that it may be accessed as desired (e.g., when determining whether the player qualifies as a problem gambler). Further, various statistics may be measured in association with a player (e.g., coin-in statistics, win/loss statistics, buy-in amount for a session) and similarly accessed.

Various systems for facilitating such monitoring of player behavior and activity are contemplated. For example, a two-wire system such as one offered by IGT™ may be used. Similarly, a protocol such as the IGT SAS™ protocol or the IGT SuperSAS™ protocol may be used. The SAS™ protocol and the SuperSAS™ protocol each allows for communication between gaming machines and slot accounting systems and provides a secure method of communicating all necessary data supplied by the gaming device to the online monitoring system. One aspect of the SAS™ protocol and the SuperSAS™ protocol that may be beneficial in implementing aspects of the present invention is the authentication function which allows operators and regulators to remotely interrogate gaming devices for important memory verification information, for both game programs, and peripheral devices. In another example, a one-wire system such as the OASIS™ System offered by Aristocrat Technologies™ or the SDS slot-floor monitoring system offered by Bally Gaming and Systems™ may be used. Each of the systems described above is an integrated information system that continually monitors slot machines and customer gaming activity. Thus, for example, any one of these systems may be used to monitor a player's gaming activity in order to determine player outcomes, buy-in amounts, coin-in statistics, win/loss statistics and/or any other data deemed relevant.

In one embodiment, a player may operate a plurality of gaming devices. For example, a player may simultaneously play two side-by-side gaming devices, a player may play one gaming device (e.g. a gaming device) and then continue his gaming session at another gaming device (e.g. a video poker machine), and a player may remotely operate a gaming device, possibly by using a telephone, PDA or other device (i) to transmit commands (directly or indirectly) to the gaming device, such as wager amounts and commands to select certain cards; and/or (ii) to receive output (directly or indirectly) from the gaming device.

In one embodiment, a gaming device may allow a player to play a game of skill rather than a game of chance. Such an embodiment may be more appealing to certain players or may be permitted in areas where it is illegal to gamble on games of chance.

In one embodiment, gaming device 900 may be operable to facilitate downloadable games such that games available for play on gaming device 900 may be stored on a server device and downloaded to the gaming device 900. In one embodiment, software components of the gaming device 900 may be remotely modified and/or updated by another device. For example, a payout or probability table stored in the memory of gaming device 900 may be altered, modified or updated remotely, hot fixes may be applied to software stored by the gaming device 900 and/or new versions of software may be downloaded to the gaming device 900. Similarly, the gaming device 900 may be programmed to retrieve any or all such updates from another device, as appropriate and preferred. Any of the above (e.g., downloading of a game, updating of software, modification of a payout or probability table) may occur, for example, based upon an occurrence of an event (e.g., a scheduled event), an indication being received from qualified casino personnel or other personnel (e.g., a regulator), and/or upon a request from a player. In one embodiment, gaming device 900 may comprise a thin client device controlled be a server device.

In one or more embodiments, aspects of the present invention, such as identifying a player as a problem gambler and causing an event to be dispatched in response thereto, may be practiced by replacing and/or augmenting one or more components (e.g., hardware and/or software components) of an existing gaming device. Thus, in one or more embodiments, the invention may be applied as a retrofit or upgrade to existing gaming devices currently available for play within various casinos.

For example, a memory (e.g., computer chip) of the gaming device may be replaced or added, the replacement or additional memory storing a program for instructing the processor of the gaming device to operate in accordance with one or more embodiments. In another example, data output via the gaming device (e.g., graphical and/or textual data displayed on the gaming device) may be replaced or added, the replacement or additional data indicating to a player information relevant to one or more aspects of the present invention.

In a specific example, a gaming device may comprise various electronic components mounted to one or more printed circuit boards (PCBs). Such components may include various hardware described herein, such as a communications port and various controllers of peripheral devices (e.g., a display controller), as well as a memory for storing programming instructions (software) and a processor for carrying out such instructions. Forms of memory that may be found in a gaming device include electronically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) and flash memory. Thus, in one or more embodiments of the present invention, an EPROM storing software with instructions for carrying out aspects of the present invention (as well as instructions for carrying out other functions traditionally performed by the gaming device) may replace an EPROM previously installed in a gaming device or may be reprogrammed in accordance with one or more embodiments described herein, such that the gaming device may be configured to operate in accordance with various processes described herein.

Similarly, in addition to or in lieu of a player being able to select a mode of operation of the gaming device, in some embodiments a casino operator may be able to do so. For example, a casino operator may be able to select whether the gaming device is to operate in a conventional mode or in a “reinvestment” mode.

Accordingly, a gaming device may be configured to allow a player, casino operator or other entity to select one of at least two “modes” of the gaming device, and to enable the selected mode. If a “standard” mode is selected, the gaming device may be configured to operate in a manner similar to how it operated before the installation of the module (e.g., the gaming device operates in a conventional manner, such that embodiments described herein may not be utilized). If a “reinvestment” mode is selected, the gaming device may then be operable to execute game play in accordance with one or more embodiments described herein.

In one example of allowing an entity to select one or more modes, a touch-sensitive display screen may be configured to output a prompt to select a mode of operation. Such a prompt may be output in occurrence to various trigger conditions (e.g., coins, bills or tickets are inserted; a credit balance increases from zero to some other number; a player presses a “play” button; a motion, weight, infrared or other sensor detects the presence of a player; the gaming device being turned on, initiated, re-configured and/or rebooted, etc.). Accordingly, an entity may select a mode of operation (e.g., by pressing an appropriately labeled icon of a touch-sensitive display screen), and upon receiving the entity's selection, the gaming device may be configured to operate in the selected mode.

In another embodiment, a gaming device may be operable to automatically determine whether it should switch modes from a standard mode to a “reinvestment” mode. A gaming device may perform such a determination, for example, by evaluating data received from a player and/or another device and/or by querying another device. For example, a gaming device may be programmed to determine (e.g., upon receiving a player identifier and based upon the player identifier) whether the player currently playing the gaming device qualifies as a problem gambler.

In one embodiment, a gaming device may be operable to output an indication that it is currently in “reinvestment” mode (e.g., to inform a player that automatic reinvestment of payouts has been enabled). For example, the gaming device may turn on a light, change graphics, output a sound, etc.

In other embodiments, as described herein, a peripheral device may be useful for implementing one or more embodiments of the present invention into the operation of a conventional gaming device. For example, in order to avoid or minimize the necessity of modifying or replacing a program already stored in a memory of a conventional gaming device, an external or internal module that comprises a peripheral device may be inserted in, connected to or otherwise associated with the gaming device. Such a peripheral device may be operable to, for example, monitor and/or transmit information about a player's gambling activity at the gaming device to another device. The peripheral device may monitor and/or transmit such information to enable a determination of whether a player qualifies as a problem gambler.

In still further embodiments, rather than configure existing gaming devices to execute embodiments described herein by installing or connecting new hardware and/or software, software may be downloaded into an existing memory of one or more gaming devices. U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,634 to Wells et al. teaches methods for downloading data to gaming devices in such a manner. The entirety of U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,634 is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes. Thus, in some embodiments, an existing gaming device may be reprogrammed to accommodate new functionality of the present invention without the need, or by minimizing the need, to remove and replace hardware within the gaming device.

Referring now to FIG. 10, illustrated therein is an embodiment 1000 of a controller operable to communicate with one or more gaming devices 1001 as part of a system. Although three gaming devices 1001 are illustrated, any number may be used. A gaming device 1001 may comprise, for example, a gaming device 900 (FIG. 9). Embodiment 1000 is referred to as controller 1000 herein. It should be noted that controller 1000 may comprise a server device operable to communicate with one or more gaming devices, as the term is used herein.

The controller 1000 may be implemented as a system controller, a dedicated hardware circuit, an appropriately programmed general-purpose computer, or any other equivalent electronic, mechanical or electro-mechanical device. The controller 1000 may comprise, for example, one or more server computers operable to communicate with one or more client devices, such as one or more gaming devices, one or more kiosks, one or more peripheral devices, and/or one or more casino personnel devices. The controller 1000 may be operative to execute some or all of the methods described herein.

In operation, the controller 1000 may function under the control of a casino, another merchant, or other entity that may also control use of the gaming devices 1001. For example, the controller 1000 may be a slot server in a casino. In some embodiments, the controller 1000 and a slot server may be different devices. In some embodiments, the controller 1000 may comprise a plurality of computers operating together. In some embodiments, the controller 1000 and a gaming device may be the same device.

The controller 1000 comprises a processor 1010, such as one or more Intel® Pentium® processors or a processor 905 described above with respect to FIG. 9. The processor 1010 is in communication with a communication port 1005 (e.g., for communicating with one or more other devices, such as one or more gaming devices 1001 and/or one or more gaming devices 110B) and a memory 1020 (similar to memory 910 described above with respect to FIG. 9). The memory 1020 may comprise an appropriate combination of magnetic, optical and/or semiconductor memory, and may include, for example, Random Access Memory (RAM), Read-Only Memory (ROM), a compact disc and/or a hard disk. The processor 1010 and the memory 1020 may each be, for example: (i) located entirely within a single computer or other device; or (ii) connected to each other by a remote communication medium, such as a serial port cable, telephone line or radio frequency transceiver. In one embodiment, the controller 1000 may comprise one or more devices that are connected to a remote server computer for maintaining databases.

The memory 1020 stores a program 1030 for controlling the processor 1010. The processor 1010 performs instructions of the program 1030, and thereby operates in accordance with the present invention, and particularly in accordance with the methods described in detail herein. The program 1030 may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled and/or encrypted format. The program 1030 furthermore includes program elements that may be necessary, such as an operating system, a database management system and “device drivers” for allowing the processor 1010 to interface with computer peripheral devices. Appropriate program elements are known to those skilled in the art, and need not be described in detail herein. The program 1030 may include computer program code that allows the controller 1000 to employ the communication port 1005 to communicate with a gaming device

According to an embodiment, the instructions of the program 1030 may be read into a main memory from another computer-readable medium, such from a ROM to RAM. Execution of sequences of the instructions in program 1030 causes processor 1010 to perform the process steps described herein. In alternate embodiments, hard-wired circuitry may be used in place of, or in combination with, software instructions for implementation of the processes of the present invention. Thus, embodiments of the present invention are not limited to any specific combination of hardware and software.

The memory 1020 also stores (i) a player database 1070; and (ii) a reinvestment database 1080 (e.g., reinvestment database 300, described in detail with respect to FIG. 3). In some embodiments (e.g., in an embodiment in which controller 1000 manages downloadable games playable on one or more gaming devices), the memory 1020 may store additional databases. Examples of such additional databases include, but are not limited to, (i) a gaming device database that stores information related to one or more gaming devices with which the controller 1000 is operable to communicate, (ii) a game database that stores information regarding one or more games playable on and/or downloadable to one or more gaming devices, and (iii) a scheduling and/or configuration database useful for determining which games are to be made available on which gaming devices.

Similarly, in one embodiment controller 1000 may be operable to configure a gaming device remotely, update software stored on a gaming device and/or to download software or software components to a gaming device. For example, controller 1000 may be operable to apply a hot fix to software stored on a gaming device, modify a payout and/or probability table stored on a gaming device and/or transmit a new version of software and/or a software component to a gaming device. Controller 1000 may be programmed to perform any or all of the above functions based on, for example, an occurrence of an event (e.g., a scheduled event), receiving an indication from a qualified casino employee and/or other person (e.g., a regulator) and/or receiving a request from a player.

Although the databases 1070 and 1080 are described as being stored in a memory 1020 of controller 1000, in other embodiments some or all of these databases may be partially or wholly stored, in lieu of or in addition to being stored in a memory 1020 of controller 1000, in a memory of one or more other devices. Such one or more other devices may comprise, for example, one or more peripheral devices, one or more gaming devices, a slot server (if different from the controller 1000), another device, or a combination thereof. Further, some or all of the data described as being stored in the memory 1020 may be partially or wholly stored (in addition to or in lieu of being stored in the memory 1020) in a memory of one or more other devices. Such one or more other devices may comprise, for example, one or more peripheral devices, one or more gaming devices, a slot server (if different from controller 1000), another device, or a combination thereof.

Numerous embodiments have been described, and are presented for illustrative purposes only. The described embodiments are not intended to be limiting in any sense. The invention is widely applicable to numerous embodiments, as is readily apparent from the disclosure herein. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that structural, logical, software, electrical and other changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, those skilled in the art will recognize that the present invention may be practiced with various modifications and alterations. Although particular features of the present invention may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments or figures that form a part of the present disclosure, and in which are shown, by way of illustration, specific embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that such features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or figures with reference to which they are described. The present disclosure is thus neither a literal description of all embodiments of the invention nor a listing of features of the invention that must be present in all embodiments.

The terms “an embodiment”, “embodiment”, “embodiments”, “the embodiment”, “the embodiments”, “an embodiment”, “some embodiments”, “an example embodiment”, “at least one embodiment”, “one or more embodiments” and “one embodiment” mean “one or more (but not necessarily all) embodiments” unless expressly specified otherwise. The terms “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof mean “including but not limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “consisting of” and variations thereof mean “including and limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The enumerated listing of items does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive. The enumerated listing of items does not imply that any or all of the items are collectively exhaustive of anything, unless expressly specified otherwise. The enumerated listing of items does not imply that the items are ordered in any manner according to the order in which they are enumerated.

The term “comprising at least one of” followed by a listing of items does not imply that a component or subcomponent from each item in the list is required. Rather, it means that one or more of the items listed may comprise the item specified. For example, if it is said “wherein A comprises at least one of: a, b and c” it is meant that (i) A may comprise a, (ii) A may comprise b, (iii) A may comprise c, (iv) A may comprise a and b, (v) A may comprise a and c, (vi) A may comprise b and c, or (vii) A may comprise a, b and c.

The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “based on” means “based at least on”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The methods described herein (regardless of whether they are referred to as methods, processes, algorithms, calculations, and the like) inherently include one or more steps. Therefore, all references to a “step” or “steps” of such a method have antecedent basis in the mere recitation of the term ‘method’ or a like term. Accordingly, any reference in a claim to a ‘step’ or ‘steps’ of a method is deemed to have sufficient antecedent basis.

Headings of sections provided in this document and the title are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.

Devices that are in communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.

A description of an embodiment with several components in communication with each other does not imply that all such components are required, or that each of the disclosed components must communicate with every other component. On the contrary a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments.

Further, although process steps, method steps, algorithms or the like may be described in a sequential order, such processes, methods and algorithms may be configured to work in alternate orders. In other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be described in this document does not, in and of itself, indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order. The steps of processes described herein may be performed in any order practical. Further, some steps may be performed simultaneously despite being described or implied as occurring non-simultaneously (e.g., because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does not imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention, and does not imply that the illustrated process is preferred.

It will be readily apparent that the various methods and algorithms described herein may be implemented by, e.g., appropriately programmed general purpose computers and computing devices. Typically a processor (e.g., a microprocessor or controller device) will receive instructions from a memory or like storage device, and execute those instructions, thereby performing a process defined by those instructions. Further, programs that implement such methods and algorithms may be stored and transmitted using a variety of known media.

When a single device or article is described herein, it will be readily apparent that more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate) may be used in place of a single device/article. Similarly, where more than one device or article is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), it will be readily apparent that a single device/article may be used in place of the more than one device or article.

The functionality and/or the features of a device may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices which are not explicitly described as having such functionality/features. Thus, other embodiments need not include the device itself.

Where databases are described, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any schematic illustrations and accompanying descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by the tables shown. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; those skilled in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those illustrated herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models and/or distributed databases) could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein. Likewise, object methods or behaviors of a database can be used to implement the processes of example embodiments. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from a device that accesses data in such a database.

It should also be understood that, to the extent that any term recited in the claims is referred to elsewhere in this document in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for the sake of clarity only, and it is not intended that any such term be so restricted, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning.

In a claim, a limitation of the claim which includes the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that limitation.

In a claim, a limitation of the claim which does not include the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6 does not apply to that limitation, regardless of whether that limitation recites a function without recitation of structure, material or acts for performing that function. For example, in a claim, the mere use of the phrase “step of” or the phrase “steps of” in referring to one or more steps of the claim or of another claim does not mean that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that step(s).

With respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, the corresponding structure, material or acts described in the specification, and equivalents thereof, may perform additional functions as well as the specified function.

Computers, processors, computing devices and like products are structures that can perform a wide variety of functions. Such products can be operable to perform a specified function by executing one or more programs, such as a program stored in a memory device of that product or in a memory device which that product accesses. Unless expressly specified otherwise, such a program need not be based on any particular algorithm, such as any particular algorithm that might be disclosed in the present application. It is well known to one of ordinary skill in the art that a specified function may be implemented via different algorithms, and any of a number of different algorithms would be a mere design choice for carrying out the specified function.

Therefore, with respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, structure corresponding to a specified function includes any product programmed to perform the specified function. Such structure includes programmed products which perform the function, regardless of whether such product is programmed with (i) a disclosed algorithm for performing the function, (ii) an algorithm that is similar to a disclosed algorithm, or (iii) a different algorithm for performing the function.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20120202584 *Nov 3, 2011Aug 9, 2012Cfph, LlcExample virtual wallet for fund management of account based wagering accounts
WO2010058208A1 *Nov 17, 2009May 27, 2010Gamesman LimitedAmusement machine and push button assembly
WO2012061687A1 *Nov 4, 2011May 10, 2012Cfph, LlcExample virtual wallet for fund management of account based wagering accounts
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/25
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3244, G07F17/3267
European ClassificationG07F17/32K, G07F17/32M4, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 18, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: WALKER DIGITAL, LLC, CONNECTICUT
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:JORASCH, JAMES A.;TEDESCO, ROBERT C.;TEDESCO, DANIEL E.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:020423/0943;SIGNING DATES FROM 20071130 TO 20080108