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Publication numberUS20080248878 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/059,197
Publication dateOct 9, 2008
Filing dateMar 31, 2008
Priority dateApr 3, 2007
Also published asCN101281669A
Publication number059197, 12059197, US 2008/0248878 A1, US 2008/248878 A1, US 20080248878 A1, US 20080248878A1, US 2008248878 A1, US 2008248878A1, US-A1-20080248878, US-A1-2008248878, US2008/0248878A1, US2008/248878A1, US20080248878 A1, US20080248878A1, US2008248878 A1, US2008248878A1
InventorsKazuei Yoshioka
Original AssigneeAruze Corp., Seta Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming facility management system
US 20080248878 A1
Abstract
A gaming facility management section 1 is provided with a game medium lending device 20, a management server 5, a first line 120 a and a second line 120 b and a communication management controller. The game medium lending device 20 includes a data processor unit that manages game medium lend-out data generated following a lend-out of a game medium and game data regarding a game in a gaming machine. The management server 5 includes a data processor unit that stores the various data in memory and manages the above data. The management server 5 is connected to the game medium lending device 20 through networks 100 and 120. The first line 120 a and the second line 120 b are installed inside the networks 100 and 120 and operate to transmit and receive game medium lend-out data and game data. The communication management controller carries out transmission of game medium lend-out data and game data through the second line 120 b in parallel with the transmission of game medium lend-out data and game data through the first line 120 a.
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Claims(15)
1. A gaming facility management system, comprising:
(a) a game medium lending device including a data processor unit that manages a game medium lend-out data item generated with lend-out of a game medium and a game data item relating to a game in a gaming machine;
(b) a management server that includes a data processor unit that operates to store and manage various data items in a memory, and is connected to the game medium lending device through a network;
(c) a first line and a second line that are disposed inside the network and operate to transmit and receive the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item; and
(d) a communication management unit operable to transmit the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item through the first line in parallel with transmitting the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item through the second line.
2. The gaming facility management system according to claim 1, wherein
the game medium lending device includes an image processor unit that operates to process an image data item; and
the communication management unit is operable to transmit and receive the image data item through the second line.
3. The gaming facility management system according to claim 1, wherein
the management server is made up of a plurality of management servers, and
at least one management server from amongst the plurality of management servers is connected to another management server so as to have the function of a management unit, and
said at least one management server includes a memory and a data processor unit, the memory being operable to store the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item transmitted from a plurality of game medium lending devices, the data processor unit being operable to manage said game medium lend-out data item and game data item.
4. The gaming facility management system according to claim 1, wherein
the game medium lending device is made up of a plurality of game medium lending devices and
at least one game medium lending device from amongst the plurality of game medium lending devices includes a memory and a data processor unit so as to have a function of a management unit, the memory being operable to store the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item transmitted from other game medium lending devices, the data processor unit being operable to manage said game medium lend-out data item and game data item.
5. The gaming facility management system according to claim 1, wherein, when the game medium lend-out data item is transmitted, the game medium lend-out data item is subjected to predetermined security processing.
6. A gaming facility management system, comprising:
(a) a game medium lending device operable to store a gaming value data item obtained by conversion from a value to a gaming value for performing a game, and a game data item relating to a game in a gaming machine;
(b) a management unit operable to manage the game medium lending device and relay, through a network, between the game medium lending device and a management server connected to the network;
(c) a first line and a second line that connect the management unit with the game medium lending device; and
(d) a communication management unit that is provided in the game medium lending device and is operable to transmit the game value data item and the game data item in parallel to the management unit, through the first line and the second line.
7. The gaming facility management system according to claim 6, wherein
the communication management unit in the game medium lending device makes an inquiry on whether to permit transmission of the game value data item and game data item to the management unit, and after receiving a transmit enable signal from the management unit, the communication management unit transmits the game value data item and the game data item in parallel to the management unit, through the first line and the second line.
8. The gaming facility management system according to claim 6, wherein
the management unit transmits to the management server an abnormality notification signal, in case where reception of the game value data item and game data item from the communication management unit of the game medium lending device is not verified within a predetermined time after transmitting a transmit enable signal to the communication management unit in response to an inquiry from the communication management unit of the game medium lending device on whether or not transmission is permitted.
9. The gaming facility management system according to claim 6, wherein
the management unit includes a controller,
wherein, after receiving the game value data item and the game data item from the game medium lending device through the first line and the second line, the controller stores said data item previously received from one line and deletes said data item received afterwards from the other line.
10. The gaming facility management system according to claim 6, wherein
the game medium lending device is made up of a plurality of game medium lending devices; and
the first line and the second line connect the management unit with the plurality of game medium lending devices.
11. A gaming facility management method comprising the steps of:
(a) storing a game value data item obtained by conversion from a value to a gaming value for performing a game and a game data item relating to a game in a gaming machine, in a game medium lending device;
(b) performing relay between the game medium lending device and a management server through a management unit operable to manage the game medium lending device, and transmitting and receiving a predetermined data item to the management server through a network; and
(c) transmitting the game value data item and the game data item in parallel from the game medium lending device to the management unit through a first line and a second line that connect the management unit with the game medium lending device.
12. The gaming facility management method according to claim 11, wherein at step (c), the game medium lending device transmits the game value data item and the game data item in parallel to the management unit through the first line and the second line, after a communication connection is established between the game medium lending device and the management unit.
13. The gaming facility management method according to claim 11, further including the step of the management unit transmitting an abnormality notification signal to the management server in a case where reception of the game value data item and game data item from the game medium lending device is not verified within a predetermined time after a communication connection has been established between the game medium lending device and the management unit.
14. The gaming facility management method according to claim 11, further comprising the step of, after receiving the game value data item and the game data item from the game medium lending device through the first line and the second line, the management unit storing said data item previously received from one line and deleting said data item received afterwards from the other line.
15. The gaming facility management method according to claim 11, wherein
the game medium lending device is made up of a plurality of game medium lending devices; and
the first line and the second line connect the management unit with the plurality of game medium lending devices.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based upon and claims a priority from the prior Japanese patent Application No. 2007-097664 filed on Apr. 3, 2007, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a gaming facility management system suitable for a gaming facility in which gaming machines such as pachinko machines, slot machines and the like are installed.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventionally, gaming machines, game medium lending devices, or card processing devices and the like are disposed in the gaming facility as described above. The gaming machines are disposed adjacent to one another so as to be tightly enclosed within a narrow area inside a block which will be referred to as a so-called bank. A game medium lending device is disposed between these gaming machines. The card processing devices handle various types of cards such as members' cards and prepaid cards and the like. A distributed network system similar to that disclosed in Japanese Unexamined Patent Publication No. 2005-288017, for instance, is known as a gaming facility management system of managing various types of operating devices disposed inside the gaming facility. This gaming facility management system includes a bank controller and a bank-end controller. The bank controller functions as a relay between the operating devices (gaming machines and game medium lending machines) installed inside each bank and an exterior device. The bank-end controller is connected to the game medium lending machines installed between the respective gaming machines so as to form a communication channel which differs from a communication channel connected to the above bank controller.

A base controller acquires and stores information indicative of an operating state of the operating devices. This information includes, for instance, information on the number of input balls and the number of output balls from the gaming machines, the number of won jackpots, etc, the number of gaming media lend-outs (earning) from the game medium lending machines. The base controller performs control to detect whether the operating device to which it is connected is in a normal operating state or an abnormality has occurred therein.

The bank controller further acquires and stores various types of information regarding the operating devices, the information having been acquired by each base controller connected inside the bank. Also, the bank-end controller acquires and stores information regarding the members' card and the prepaid card (also, referred to as visitors' card), the information having been received from the game medium lending device installed adjacent each gaming machine.

The bank controller disposed in each bank is connected to a hall computer and a member management computer via a hall information network, through a communication line. The bank-end controller is connected to the hall information network through a different communication line other than the bank controller.

In this distributed network system, distributed data processing using two systems is carried out, in consideration of traffic during normal time. That is, the bank controller acquires only information indicative of the operating state of the base controller through one of the systems, and transmits this information to the hall computer through the communication line. The bank-end controller acquires only information regarding the cards from the game medium lending devices through the other system, and transmits this information to the card server through the other communication line. In this way, each system processes different items of data independently.

In the above-described gaming facility management system, the operation of the operating devices is temporarily suspended if the line or the operating devices fail(s). Once the failure is repaired and the operation is restored, the data of the operating devices existing until before the failure has occurred can be restored based on information stored in the bank controller and bank-end controller.

In the gaming facility management system disclosed in the Japanese Unexamined Patent Publication No. 2005-288017, the operating devices themselves operate even in the case where communication of the various types of information through the bank controller or the bank-end controller has been severed due to a failure occurring in the communication line. Generally, the game medium lend-out data and the game data of these operating devices (gaming machines and game medium lending devices) are always updated. More specifically, the data thus transmitted is matched by a data processor unit of high-order devices (the bank controller, the bank-end controller and management servers to which the above data is transmitted from the respective controllers). After that, the data is stored in memory and is managed. However, the above data of the operating devices transmitted after a communication failure has occurred is not accumulated in the memory of the high-order devices until the communication failure has been recovered from. For this reason, in the data recovery processing at the time of failure recovery, the data which is currently accumulated in the memory of the respective high-order devices cannot be matched with the data which was transmitted to the respective high-order devices after failure recovery. This may cause the gaming medium lending devices to be deactivated.

These operating devices operate in one pair. If the game medium lend-out data cannot be matched in the respective high-order devices, the game data cannot be matched either. If one operating device is deactivated, the other operating device will also be deactivated, thus making it impossible to acquire accurate data in such one pair of operating devices among the high-order devices.

The present invention has been made in view of the above-described problems. It is an object of the invention is to provide a gaming facility management system that can support transmission and reception of main data with the game medium lending device continuing to function even if a communication failure or the like occurs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming facility management system that has the following configuration. The gaming facility management system comprises a game medium lending device, a management server, a first line and a second line, and a communication management unit. The game medium lending device includes a data processor unit that manages a game medium lend-out data item generated following lend-out of a game medium and a game data item relating to a game in a gaming machine. The management server includes a data processor unit that operates to store and manage various data items in a memory, and is connected to the game medium lending device through a network. The first line and the second line are disposed inside the network and are operable to transmit and receive the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item. The communication management unit is operable to transmit the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item through the first line in parallel with transmitting the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item through the second line.

According to the first aspect of the present invention, communication of the game medium lend-out data and game data through the second line is carried out in parallel with communication of the game medium lend-out data and game data through the first line. Thus, even if a failure occurs in one line, communication is continued through the other line, preventing suspension of the functions of the game medium lending device.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming facility management system that has the following configuration. In the gaming facility management system according to the first aspect, the game medium lending device includes an image processor unit operable to process an image data item; and the communication management unit operable to transmit and receive the image data item through the second line.

According to the second aspect of the present invention, in normal communication, game medium lend-out data and game data with a small amount of data use a main line which is the first line and a subsidiary line which is the second line. On the other hand, large amounts of data (image data) in addition to the game medium lend-out data and game data use the subsidiary line which is the second line. In particular, in recent years, these channels have been used to transmit image data to the game medium lending devices, this type of data being information with large amounts of data of 1 Mbps or more, to capture image data by using a CCD image pickup unit or the like, or to transmit the captured image data to a management server. Accordingly, in recent gaming facility management systems, optical fibers and LAN cables that support communication of large amounts of data of 1 Gbps or more are employed for the communication line. The second line is thus configured of a material (such as an optical fiber) to support communication of larger amounts of data than the first line (RS-485). Transmission and reception of large amounts of data thus become possible as well. Here, “image data” includes data and the like such as sound data and QR code, in addition to data regarding images. With respect to the first line and the second line, contrary to the above configuration, the first line may be employed so as to support transmission and reception of large amounts of data.

In the above-described configuration, communication of game medium lend-out data and game data is no longer severed due to communication congestion or the like caused by an insufficient communication bandwidth. Further, communication of large amounts of data becomes possible through the second line.

According to the third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming facility management system that has the following construction. In the gaming facility management system according to the first aspect, the management server is provided in plurality. At least one management server from amongst the plurality of management servers is connected to another management server so as to have the function of a management unit. The at least one management server includes a memory and a data processor unit, wherein the memory is operable to store the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item transmitted from a plurality of game medium lending devices, and the data processor unit is operable to manage this game medium lend-out data item and game data item.

According to the third aspect of the present invention, any one of the management servers disposed in each bank facility that is installed in a gaming facility such as a pachinko hall accumulates and controls main data from the plurality of game medium lending devices disposed inside the bank. In addition, the management server can transmit this data to a different management server disposed in a management office, or alternatively, can transmit information data transmitted from the other management server to each game medium lending device. This makes data management for each bank facility easier. Since the respective game medium lending devices no longer communicate with the other management server, it is possible to transmit and receive an amount of data in accordance with a traffic state in the network. This helps prevent the occurrence of communication congestion.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming facility management system that has the following construction. In the gaming facility management system according to the first aspect of the present invention, the game medium lending device is made up of a plurality of game medium lending devices. At least one game medium lending device from amongst the plurality of game medium lending devices includes a memory and a data processor unit so as to have a function of a management unit. The memory is operable to store the game medium lend-out data item and the game data item transmitted from other game medium lending devices, and the data processor unit is operable to manage the game medium lend-out data item and game data item.

According to the fourth aspect of the present invention, any one of the game medium lending devices has the function of a management unit. This management unit is connected to the management server, thus eliminating a need to provide a management unit. As a result, the number of devices to connect to the network can be further reduced. The entire gaming facility management system can be thus simplified and traffic inside the network can be reduced. At the same time, it is possible to suppress the occurrence of network failures caused by an increase in the number of devices that are connected to the network.

According to a fifth aspect of the present embodiment, there is provided a gaming facility management system that has the following construction. In the gaming facility management system according to the first aspect, when the game medium lend-out data item is transmitted, the game medium lend-out data item is subjected to a predetermined security processing.

According to the fifth aspect of the present invention, if game medium lend-out data is transmitted, this data is transmitted after being subjected to a predetermined security processing which includes various types of encryption processing and encapsulation using a predetermined protocol. Even if the gaming facility management system uses a communication line such as a LAN cable, for instance, which is widely used in general, which achieves low cost, and which is easily available to anybody, it is possible to improve security against interception and wire tapping of highly confidential game medium lend-out data.

According to the present invention, a gaming facility management system can be provided which can support transmission and reception of main data between the game medium lending devices and the management server by means of an alternate line, without suspensions in the operation of the game medium lending devices even in the event a failure might occur in the main line.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view showing a schematic configuration of an embodiment of a gaming facility management system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a management operation terminal;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a hall computer;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a card server;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a members' server;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing an overall configuration of a game medium lending device:

FIG. 7 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a game medium lending device;

FIG. 8 is a view for explaining an example of information distribution using an image display unit of a ten-key operation unit;

FIG. 9 is a block diagram showing a configuration of a bank management unit;

FIG. 10 is a view showing a data transmission/reception executed between a game medium lending device and a bank management unit; and

FIG. 11 is a flow chart showing one example of data transmission/reception between a bank management unit and a game medium lending device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Hereinafter, one embodiment of a gaming facility management system according to the present invention will be described with referring to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a view showing a schematic construction of a gaming facility management system which can be installed in a gaming facility such as a pachinko game hall or the like, for instance.

A gaming facility management system 1 according to the present embodiment is provided with management servers 5 that manage an operating state of a plurality of gaming machines, a lend-out state of a game medium, and players (for instance, members, non-members). The management servers are disposed inside the gaming facility and include pachi-slot machines and pachinko gaming machines, slot machines and the like. Various types of data are transmitted through a network 100 to these management servers 5 from the various operating devices installed inside the gaming facility, thereby enabling data management and data accumulation. A management operation terminal 6 is connected to the management servers 5. The management operation terminal 6 generally manages and stores the various types of data accumulated in the management servers 5 and, at the same time, processes and retrieves necessary data.

Game areas (designated by reference numeral 7), referred to as so-called banks, are disposed at a plurality of locations inside the gaming facility. A plurality of gaming machines 10 are disposed adjacent to each other in each one of the banks 7. Here, the gaming machines 10 include pachi-slot machines and pachinko gaming machines, slot machines and the like. A game medium lending device 20 is disposed between the respective gaming machines and enables reception of game medium lend-outs when cash, a card (member card, non-member card) is inserted at the time of playing using the gaming machines. In addition, a bank management unit 30 is disposed in each one of the banks 7 and has the function of managing the gaming machines 10 and the game medium lending devices 20 disposed inside the respective banks, separately for each bank.

In addition to the above-described operating devices, various other operating devices are disposed inside the gaming facility and are connected to the management servers 5 through a network 100. These operating devices include, for instance, a gift management POS 40 that executes various types of service processing mainly with respect to members' cards, a receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism (counting mechanism) 50 and an issue liquidation device 60, which is capable of issuing various types of cards such as prepaid cards and the like. The gift management POS 40 may include a card processor into which a members' card is actually inserted, or may otherwise be connected to such members' card processor.

Game data for the respective gaming machines 10, lend-out data for the respective game medium lending devices 20 which are disposed inside a bank, and player data (including member data) and the like are transmitted to the bank management unit 30. The bank management unit 30 temporarily stores these items of data, and then, transmits the data to the above-mentioned management servers 5 through network 100. In addition, the management unit 30 has a function of transmitting authentication data and image data, etc. transmitted from the management servers 5 to a predetermined game medium lending device 20. The management unit 30 thus manages data, converts a communication scheme, and switches a data destination and the like among the management servers 5, gaming machines 10 and game medium lending devices 20 at the time of data transmission and reception.

The respective operating devices disposed inside the above-described gaming facility are not limitative to a particular arrangement or type and can be variously modified. For instance, each of the game medium lending devices 20 may be provided with a safe into which bills and coins inserted by a player are accumulated. As shown in FIG. 1, one bill & coin safe 80 is installed for each bank 7. All of the cash processed by the game medium lending device in a respective bank may be collected and accumulated together in the bill & coin safe 80 through a cash conveyor mechanism (not shown) installed inside the bank. With such construction, it may be possible to connect the bill & coin safe 80 with the bank management unit 30 through a wiring 130 for a pulse signal, for instance, to thus manage a synchronized state therebetween. The above-described receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism 50 may be provided for each bank 7 as well as being provided at a predetermined location (for instance, the counter) only. With this construction as well, the receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism 50 and the bank management unit 30 may be connected by a wiring for a pulse signal to thus manage a synchronized state therebetween.

Next, a description will be given as to the respective constituent elements of the gaming facility management system 1, which are constructed through the above-described network 100.

(Regarding Network 100)

Network 100 that connects the respective types of operating devices and the management servers 5 may be a communication network of either a public network such as internet, or otherwise a leased network such as LAN, and may be either a wired network or a wireless network. Further, the network may be any of mesh-shaped, bus-shaped, ring-shaped, star-shaped, and a combination thereof. In addition, the communication scheme and modulation scheme to be executed via the network 100 are not limitative to any particular form.

In the present embodiment, the above-mentioned network 100 is constructed by means of LAN. More specifically, the network 100 is constructed by laying down a conductor cable such as RS485, for instance, or an optical fiber cable that supports transmission and reception of large volumes of data. Signals transmitted from the various types of operating devices are gathered in a HUB (concentrator) 110 through network 100 which is constructed by LAN as described above, and then, are transmitted to the management servers 5.

In the present embodiment, the bank management unit 30 disposed in each bank is connected to each one of the game medium lending devices 20 thorough a network 120. The network 120 is constructed by a bus-type network. More specifically, the network 120 is constructed by arranging, side by side, a conductor cable such as RS485 and the like, and an optical fiber that supports transmission and reception of large amounts of data. Hereinafter, the conductor cable will be referred to as a first line 120 a, and the optical fiber will be referred to as a second line 120 b. The network 120 is constructed so as to allow simultaneous data transmission and reception through both lines, as will be described later. In this case, data which is simultaneously transmitted by means of two lines include at least game medium lend-out data and game data. With this construction, even if one of the lines fails for some reason, communication is continued through the other line, thereby preventing suspension of the functions of the game medium lending device as will be described later.

Needless to say, provision of a plurality of lines as described previously is not limitative to the portion of network 120, and may also be done for any portion between the game medium lending devices 20 and management servers 5. The plurality of lines may also be provided in all of the portions of the network 100 as described above.

As described later, each of the game medium lending devices 20 features a function of managing and storing not only the game medium lend-out data but also the game data of an adjacent gaming machine 10. Game data of a gaming machine 10, which is managed and stored in a game medium lending device 20, is transmitted to the bank management unit 30 through the above-described network 120 which includes the first line 120 a and the second line 120 b.

(Regarding Management Servers 5 and Management Operation Terminal 6)

The above-described management servers 5 include a central processor unit (CPU), a memory (RAM), a memory (ROM) that stores various types of programs and the like, an input/output device (I/O), and an exterior memory device such as a hard disk and the like. The management servers 5 are made up of information processing devices such as personal computers and work stations, etc.

In the present embodiment, the management serves 5 are made up of a plurality of devices in accordance with their contents of management. In other words, the management servers 5 are made up of a hall computer 5A and a player management server 5B. The hall computer 5A and the player management server 5B have the function of acquiring game data of each gaming machine 10, an operating state of the gaming machines in each bank and the like, from the above described bank management unit 30, while simultaneously acquiring and managing lend-out data on the game medium from each game medium lending device 20. The player management server 5B is made up of a server that manages a general public, and a server that manages members. More specifically, the player management server 5B is made up of a card server 5C and a members' server 5D, for instance. The card server 5C manages a prepaid card (visitor's card) which is issued by an issue liquidation device 60, etc. and stores information on an amount of money corresponding to a gaming value (for instance, 3,000 Japanese yen, 5,000 Japanese yen) for which game media can be lent. The members' server 5D manages a members' card issued to players who desire a card in the gaming facility.

The above-described hall computer 5A and the player management server 5B that constitute the management servers 5 have a function of generating processed data that includes the acquired data itself, or is obtained by processing the acquired data. To the management servers 5 is connected the management operation terminal 6, which is made up of a personal computer, etc, for instance and manages and stores all data regarding the gaming facility that was acquired by the management servers 5. The management operation terminal 6 allows a player to grasp different types of processed information such as data on the operating state and sales for each machine, the trend state of members, the trend state of visitors and the like.

As shown in the block diagram of FIG. 2, the management operation terminal 6 includes a controller 600, a data memory (data base) 601, a communication interface 602, an input/output unit 603 that connects a display 610 and an input device 611, and a printer interface 605 for connecting a printer 612, etc. The input device 611 includes a keyboard, a card reader/writer unit, etc.

The controller 600 is a microcomputer, for instance, made up of a CPU, ROM, RAM, etc., and controls an operation of the management operation terminal 6. The CPU, ROM and RAM include a non-volatile rewritable memory such as EEPROM, etc. The CPU executes various functions, with the use of fixed data stored in the ROM and temporary data stored in the RAM, in accordance with a processing program stored in ROM. The controller 600 has a data acquisition function of acquiring data from the management servers 5 in accordance with a predetermined program, and an information generation function of adding acquired data to the data memory (data base) 601, and further, updating the added data, or processing data, and then, storing the processed data. These items of processed data are displayed as an image, on the above-described display 610, or alternatively, are outputted from a printer 612. Transfer of various types of data between the controller 600 and the management servers 5 is executed via the communication interface 602, in accordance with a predetermined communication scheme.

Various types of information concerning the entire gaming facility can be thus stored and managed in the management operation terminal 6. This means that items of entire sales data, sales data and operating data for each machine, lend-out data of game medium, game data, player data and the like are stored and managed in the management operation terminal 6. The storage and management functions of the management operation terminal 6 may be, of course, decentralized to any of the management servers 5, or processing operations such as data processing, management, and storage may be executed in any of the management servers 5.

The hall computer 5A constituting the above management servers is made up of a personal computer, for instance, and may include a communication interface 500, a controller 501, an information memory 502 and the like, as shown in the block diagram of FIG. 3. The information memory 502 includes a data base made up of a memory such as RAM or the like.

The communication interface 500 constitutes a transmitting/receiving unit and executes data transfer, and the like between the bank management units 30 disposed in each bank through the above-described network 100, in accordance with a predetermined communication scheme.

The aforementioned controller 501 is a microcomputer, for instance, made up of a CPU, ROM, RAM, etc., and controls the operation of the hall computer 5A. The CPU, ROM and RAM include a non-volatile rewritable memory such as EEPROM. For instance, the CPU causes the hall computer to execute various functions, by using the RAM as working memory, on fixed data stored in the ROM and temporary data stored in the RAM, in accordance with a processing program stored in ROM. The controller 501 has a data acquisition function of acquiring data from the gaming machines 10 and the game medium lending devices 20 in accordance with a predetermined program, and an information generation function of adding the acquired data to the information memory 502, and further, updating the added data, or processing the data, and then, storing the processed data in the information memory 502. The above acquired data includes game medium lend-out data and game data.

Further, the controller 501 may have a function to retrieve game information in response to a request, with referring to members' information and the like as required, for instance, based on a game information request from the game medium lending device 20. Thereafter, the controller 501 may have a function to return the retrieved game information as is, or alternatively, to return processed information obtained by processing the retrieved game information, to the requesting game medium lending device 20, through the communication interface 500.

The card server 5C of the player management server 5B that constitutes the management servers 5 primarily functions to manage: an ID number assigned for each members' card and non-members' card (prepaid card); and information on the amount of money corresponding to a gaming value for which game media can be lent. The information on the amount of money includes information on the issued amount of money, information on the remaining amount of money, information on used amount of money and the like. The card server 5C is made up of a personal computer, for instance, and includes a communication interface 520, a controller 521, an information memory 522 and the like, as shown in FIG. 4. The information memory 522 is a non-members' data base and is made up of a memory such as RAM and the like. With respect to ID numbers, it may be possible to perform associations between members' numbers.

The aforementioned controller 521 has the function of executing transfers, etc. of data between bank management units 30 provided in each bank, through the above-described network 100 while simultaneously acquiring data regarding non-members from the game medium lending devices 20 and the issue liquidation device 60 and storing these items of data in the information memory 522. In this case, data regarding non-members corresponds to the ID number and the associated information on the amount of money (information on the number of times the amount of money can be used) that is assigned to each prepaid card upon being issued to the player in the issue liquidation device 60 and the game medium lending device 20.

A player who uses a prepaid card to which an ID number was assigned sits at a random gaming machine 10 at which he/she will play and executes a game medium lend-out at an adjacent game medium lending device 20. It becomes thus possible to acquire the ID number of the respective prepaid card through the bank management unit 30, and it becomes possible to grasp the trend of the player and the balance information.

The member server 5D of the card management server 5B constituting the management servers 5 has the function of managing a members' card which includes a high-security card such as an IC card. Here, the members' card means a card to which advantageous benefits can be further attached, in addition to the above-described functions of the prepaid card. Advantageous benefits include benefits which are granted at the gaming facility. Various services are envisaged for a member that possesses such a card, for instance, and receives a game medium lend-out. These services include granting points in accordance with the amount of game media that was lent, and providing information on a preferential basis to that member with respect to new gaming machines, etc. With respect to the service of granting points as described above, when inserting a members' card into the members' card processor which is connected to the gift management POS 40, for instance, the player can enjoy a gift exchange service or a game medium lend-out service in accordance with the points that were granted to his/her card. The members' card processor may be integrally provided with the gift management POS.

The members' server 5D is made up of a personal computer, for instance, and includes a communication interface 550, a controller 551, an information memory 552 and the like, as shown in the block diagram of FIG. 5. The information memory 552 is a members' data base and is made up of a memory such as RAM, etc.).

The controller 551 has a function of acquiring data regarding members from the gift management POS 40 through the above-described network 100, and storing the data in the information memory 552. In addition, the controller 55 executes data transfers and the like among the bank management units 30 respectively disposed in each bank. In this case, data regarding members corresponds, for instance, to information on the member player, ID number assigned to each card, authentication number, information on the amount of money that can be used, and point information, etc. at the time when such members' card is issued to the player. The information on the member player includes name, address, phone e-mail address, and the like, and the authentication number includes a pin number. With respect to inputting member player information for the first time when the members' card is issued, the relevant information may be input remotely, for instance, or alternatively, may also be input at the gaming facility, from any of the management servers or from an input unit of the management operation terminal.

A member who uses such members' card sits at a random gaming machine 10 at which he/she will play, and executes a game medium lend-out at an adjacent game medium lending device 20. When the member enters a pin number, this pin number and ID number assigned to the IC card are transmitted to the members' server 5D through the bank management unit 30 and the card server 5C. The controller 551 of the members' server 5D executes an authentication operation with the information memory 552. If authentication is successful, the controller 551 transmits a lend-out enable signal for a game medium within a range of the stored information on the amount of money. This operation of entering the pin number may also be carried out at a dedicated device which may be separately provided in the gaming facility. The dedicated device includes a replay device which enables use of the gaming value stored on the card next time the member comes to the gaming facility.

In other words, the trend of a member and his/her balance information and the like can be grasped in the members' server 5D each time he/she uses the members' card he/she possesses. It may be possible that the member will execute a counting operation in the receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism 50, and thus, rewrite the game medium which has become a fractional sum or part of the game medium to the members' card. In the case where rewrite processing is executed again, the controller 551 causes the information memory 552 to store new rewrite information, together with the ID number.

Further, the members' server 5D is provided with an image controller 555. This image controller 555 transmits image information for the members to the game medium lending device 20 adjacent the gaming machine at which the member sits, for instance. The image information includes information regarding a QR code, character information, image information, music information and the like.

The image controller 555 may reference information on the amount of money and point information and the like registered in the IC card, for instance, to thereby transmit contents which differ depending on these amounts. This image controller 555 may be provided with the card server 5C and the hall computer 5A as described above. Further, the image controller 555 may provide such image information to non-members as well.

[Regarding the Gift Management POS 40]

The gift management POS 40 is disposed, for instance, in the counter portion inside the gaming facility. The gift management POS 40 is used when a member receives a gift exchange service or receives a game medium lend-out service in accordance with the number of points accumulated in the members' card. When a member uses his/her points, processing of rewriting new point information is executed, and the point information is stored and managed in the members' server 5D. In the present embodiment, the members' card is inserted into the members' card processor 40A which is connected to the gift management POS 40 (refer to FIG. 5).

[Regarding the Receipt Issuance/Coin Storage Mechanism 50]

The receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism 50 has the function of measuring the amount of game media acquired by the player in a game, and issues a receipt which includes information that can be exchanged for gifts. If the measured game media becomes a fractional sum, the receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism 50 may be configured to perform processing of rewriting into the members' server, and update the amount of acquired game media as is. The processed information is stored and managed in the members' server 5D together with the ID number.

[Regarding Issue Liquidation Device 60]

The issue liquidation device 60 issues a prepaid card for use by the player when playing a game. This issue liquidation device 60 can be installed in a plurality of locations inside the gaming facility, and has the function of issuing a prepaid card which stores information on the amount of money corresponding to a gaming value (3,000 Japanese yen, 5,000 Japanese yen and the like) in accordance with an amount of money inserted by the player. The issue liquidation device 60 also has a function to refund all or part of the amount of money that the player possesses when the player inserts, into the issue liquidation device 60, the prepaid card or a members' card on which information on the amount of money corresponding to a gaming value remains.

Upon issuance of the prepaid card, a corresponding ID number is assigned to the prepaid card after issued. This ID number is stored and managed in the card server 5C described above. After the members' card is inserted into the issue liquidation device 60, the information on the amount of money corresponding to the gaming value which corresponds to the ID number assigned to the members' card is updated in the card server 5C.

[Regarding Gaming Machine 10]

Each gaming machine 10 corresponds to a pachinko gaming machine or a pachi-slot gaming machine (slot machine), and advances the game upon being supplied with game media from the game medium lending device 20 installed left adjacent the gaming machine 10. The game media includes pachinko balls, medals and the like. Each gaming machine 10 is capable of transmitting and receiving data with the game medium lending device 20 disposed adjacent left. The game data regarding this gaming machine is once stored in the adjacent game medium lending device 20, and then, is transmitted to the hall computer 5A. The game data includes information on the ratio of output balls, the current operating state, jackpot, etc.

[Regarding the Game Medium Lending Device 20]

The game medium lending device 20 has a function of lending a volume of game media designated by the player, when the player inserts a value, for instance, cash or a card. This card includes a prepaid card or an IC card such as a members' card or the like. In addition, the game medium lending device 20 can issue the prepaid card and provide various types of information to the player.

The construction of the game medium lending device 20 will be described with referring to FIG. 6 and FIG. 7.

FIG. 6 is a view showing an exemplary configuration of the game medium lending device 20. As shown in this figure, the game medium lending device 20 according to the present embodiment includes a card processor unit 20A, a bill processor unit 20B and a ten-key operation unit 20C.

The card processor unit 20A includes a card insertion slot 21 formed at a front face of the game medium lending device. When a card (such as a prepaid card or an IC card such as a members' card) carrying information on the amount of money is inserted into the card processor unit 20A, the reader/writer installed inside the unit is driven to read and rewrite information on the amount of money. At the same time, the card processor unit 20A returns and issues a card whose information on the amount of money has been rewritten or recalls a prepaid card if the amount of money on the card has reached 0. The player can receive a game medium lend-out process within the range of information on the amount of money carried by the card, thereby enabling him/her to play a game.

The bill processor unit 20B includes a bill acceptor 22 formed at a front face of the game medium lending device. When a bill is inserted into the bill acceptor, a sensor installed inside the bill processor unit 20B executes an authenticity determination processing. As is the case with the above-described card, a player can receive a game medium lend-out processing within the range of the amount of money thus inserted, thereby enabling him/her to play a game. In a case where the total amount of money is not used in a game, the card processor unit 20A writes information on the amount of money into a card which is stocked in advance in a card stocking unit (stocking unit) of the card processor unit, thereby enabling issuance of the card (which means issuance of the prepaid card).

The ten-key operation unit 20C includes an image display unit 23, a ten-key pad 24, an infrared-ray photoreceptor unit 25 and an image pick-up device 26 (CCD image pickup device) for recognizing specific information on the human body and the like. The image display unit 23 is made up of a liquid crystal display. In the figure, the infrared-ray photoreceptor unit 25 and the image pick-up device 26 are provided at the same location at an upper side of the image display unit 23.

The image display unit 23 displays, for instance, various types of information on the gaming facility, a two-dimensional bar code (QR code), and information on the amount of money and the like. When a player, who is a member, inserts the members' card, for instance, he/she uses the ten-key pad 24 to enter the pin code for the IC card or scroll through the various types of information displayed on the image display unit 23. The player depresses the ten-key pad 24 to input information and the like on the amount of money to be used in the game. The infrared-ray photoreceptor unit 25 is used to activate a lock mechanism when a player at the gaming facility opens the game medium lending device 20 by means of an infrared remote controller.

In the present embodiment, the image pick-up device 26 functions as a human body sensor unit, and is used to obtain information on whether a player plays a game or not at a gaming machine disposed adjacent the game medium lending device 20.

In addition, the image pickup device 26 may also function as a fingerprint recognition unit and a face authentication and recognition unit. With these functions, information on a client that is sitting at a gaming machine can be acquired more accurately for each gaming machine. This makes client management easier, and at the same time, enables client management using information on the human body, improving data matching. With this configuration, image data on the player, which was captured by the image pickup device 26, is transmitted to the management servers 5 through the above-mentioned networks 120 and 100.

Hereinafter, with referring to FIG. 5 and FIG. 8, a description will be given as to an example of information distribution using the image display unit 23 of the above-mentioned ten-key operation unit 20C.

As has been described above, when a members' card is inserted into the card insertion slot 21 of the card processor unit 20A and the pin number is entered using the ten-key operation unit, the card information (ID number, pin number and the like) is transmitted to the members' server 5D through the bank management unit 30, together with the information identifying the game medium lending device. The controller 551 in the members' server 5D refers to the member information stored in the information memory 552 to determine whether or not to make an authentication. The controller 551 refers to the point information, and then, distributes the image information (for instance, the QR code) stored in advance in the image controller 555 in accordance with the points, to the game medium lending device into which the respective IC card has been inserted.

The thus distributed QR code is displayed on the image display unit 23 of the game medium lending device 20 and the member reads out the respective QR code on the portable terminal M he/she possesses, thereby gaining an access to a Web server which is operated and managed by a server managing company. As a result, predetermined contents such as information on standby screens, call signal with melodies, or information on the gaming facility are distributed.

Distributing the QR code for the staff makes it possible to provide various types of services that are exclusively available for the staff.

In addition to the above-mentioned units, the game medium lending device 20 also includes a pilot lamp 27 that indicates an abnormality, and a charge unit 20D provided with a charge jack 28 that is capable of charging the portable terminal that the player possesses.

FIG. 7 is a control block diagram showing control of the game medium lending device 20.

A main CPU unit 200 that controls an operation of the entire device is installed inside the game medium lending device 20. The main CPU unit 200 is made up of a CPU that carries out a control operation, a ROM that stores a control program for controlling the entire device and a control board that includes a RAM constituting a memory. The main CPU unit 200 has the function of driving and controlling various constituent elements such as the card processor unit 20A, the bill processor unit 20B, the ten-key operation unit 20C, the charge unit 20D and the pilot lamp 27, which are incorporated in the game medium lending device 20.

Upon the receipt of information concerning the amount of money from the card processor unit 20A, the bill processor unit 20B and the ten-key operation unit 20C, the main CPU unit 200 transmits to the player a signal to the lending unit 230 for lending pachinko balls or medals representing game media. The lending unit 230 executes a game medium lending processing for an adjacent gaming machine at which the player is seated. This lending unit 230 may be incorporated in the game medium lending device, or may be incorporated inside the gaming machine.

To the main CPU unit 200, a communication management controller (communication management means) 240 are connected which has a function to control conversion of the communication scheme (serial-to-parallel conversion control) and control sort-out of the transmitters and receivers of data. The communication management controller 240 carries out data transmission and reception with the adjacent gaming machine through a terminal for communication with the gaming machine 242. In this case, the game data which is transmitted from the adjacent gaming machine 10 corresponds to data regarding a jackpot, data regarding the ratio of output balls and data regarding the operating status. Data regarding a jackpot includes start information, jackpot information, probability fluctuation information and the like. The game data regarding this gaming machine is temporarily stored in the memory (RAM and the like) mounted in the main CPU unit 200 described above.

The card processor unit 20A houses a conveyor mechanism that conveys the above card and an actuator such as a reader/writer that rewrites information into the card. The readout information and rewrite information (information on the amount of money) sent by the reader/writer with respect to the prepaid card or the IC card is temporarily stored in the memory (RAM and the like) mounted in the above CPU unit 200.

The bill processor unit 20B houses a conveyor mechanism and an actuator. When the player inserts a bill, the conveyor mechanism conveys a bill and the actuator such as a determination sensor that determines authenticity of the bill. The information (information on the amount of money) which is read out by the bill processor unit 20B is temporarily stored in the memory (RAM and the like) mounted in the above-mentioned CPU unit 200.

The ten-key operation unit 20C houses a recognition unit that recognizes information input from the ten-key operation unit when it is pressure-operated by the player, and an image controller and the like that controls display of images to be displayed on the image display unit 23. The information input from the ten-key operation unit 24 is temporarily stored in the memory (RAM and the like) mounted in the above-described CPU unit 200. The information includes, for instance, the pin number entered by the member, or lending information identifying the amount of lent game media).

A terminal for communication with the bank management unit 245 is connected to the communication management controller (communication management means) 240. The communication management controller 240 controls the various types of information which are temporarily stored in the memory (RAM and the like) mounted in the CPU unit 200 so that this information is simultaneously transmitted to the bank management unit 30 through the first line (conductor cable) 120 a and the second line (optical fiber) 120 b. In this case, like the authentication request, with respect to transmission of information to the bank management unit 30, requests for passing data among the management servers 5 in both directions are carried out in real time, while passing of game data and lend-out data and the like is executed once every predetermined time period.

[Regarding the Bank Management Unit 30]

The bank management unit 30 is installed in any location inside each bank, and is connected through network 120 to each game medium lending device 20 installed inside the bank, as set forth above. Here, the network 120 is made up of a bus-type network. As described above, each game medium lending device 20 manages and stores the game data of the adjacent gaming machine 10. In addition, the game medium lending device 20 manages and stores the game medium lend-out data generated following a lend-out of game media. These items of data are transmitted from the respective game medium lending device 20 to the bank management unit 30 through the first line and the second line constituting the network 120.

FIG. 9 is a block diagram showing a configuration of the bank management unit 30.

The main CPU unit 300 that controls the operation of the entire device is installed inside the bank management unit 30. The main CPU unit 300 is constituted as a control board that includes a CPU for carrying out a control operation, a ROM that stores a control program for controlling the entire device, and a RAM that constitutes the memory.

To the main CPU unit 300, a communication management control unit (communication management means) 340 is connected which has a function of controlling conversion (protocol conversion) of the communication scheme and controlling the sorting out of the data transmitters and receivers between the management servers 5 and the game medium lending device 20. The communication management control unit has the function of carrying out data reception and transmission through a terminal for communication with the game medium lending device 342 and the network communication terminal 344. The main CPU unit 300 receives the same items of data through the first line 120 a and the second line 120 b, as described above. Of the received items of data, only one item of data is stored in the RAM, whereas the other item of data is deleted (this processing will be described later).

[Regarding Data Passing between the Game Medium Lending Device 20 and the Bank Management Unit 30]

In the gaming facility management system configured as described above, data transmission and reception as shown in FIG. 10 is carried out between the game medium lending device 20 and the bank management unit 30. This figure shows only transmission and reception of main data.

Card data D1 for the card inserted by the player is transmitted from the card processor unit 20A of the game medium lending device 20 to the main CPU unit 200 and is then temporarily stored in the memory. Here, card data includes game medium lend-out information representing ID information of the members' card or prepaid card, information on the issued amount of money, information on the remaining amount of money, and information on the used amount of money. ID information for each game medium lending device is assigned to the card data D1 and is transmitted to the bank management unit 30, where it is temporarily stored in the memory of the CPU unit 300 inside the bank management unit 30. The card data D1 to which ID information has been assigned for each bank management unit is transmitted to the hall computer 5A and the player management server 5B of the management servers 5. The game medium lend-out data and the card data are stored and managed for each bank and each game medium lending device.

Bill data D2 of the bill inserted by the player is transmitted from the bill processor unit 20B of the game medium lending device 20 to the main CPU unit 200 and is temporarily stored in the memory. Here, the bill data D2 includes game medium lend-out information representing information on the used amount of money. ID information is assigned for each prepaid card stored in the game medium lending device and the bill data D2 is transmitted to the bank management unit 30 where it is temporarily stored in the memory of the CPU unit 300 inside the bank management unit 30. Then, the bill data D2 inclusive of ID information that has been supplied for each bank is transmitted to the card server 5C inside the management server 5. The game medium lend-out data is stored and managed for each bank and each game medium lending device.

The pin number entered by the player and the information on the used amount of money (lend-out request data) D3 are transmitted from the ten-key operation unit 20C of the game medium lending device 20 to the main CPU unit 200 where they are temporarily stored in the memory. The card data D1 and the bill data D2 described above are associated with each other. The lend-out request data D3 has ID information assigned for each game medium lending device. The lend-out request data D3 is transmitted to the bank management unit 30 where it is temporarily stored in the memory of the CPU unit 300 of the bank management unit 30. The lend-out request data D3 to which ID information was assigned for each bank is transmitted to the hall computer 5A of the game medium lending device 5 and the player management server 5B. The game medium lend-out data and the card data are stored and managed for each bank and each game medium lending device.

Game data D4 generated with the progress of the game is transmitted from the gaming machine 10 to the main CPU unit 200 and is temporarily stored in the memory. The game data D4 including ID information assigned for each game medium lending device is transmitted to the bank management unit 30, where it is temporarily stored in the memory of the CPU unit 300 inside the bank management unit 30. The game data D4 to which ID information was assigned for each bank is transmitted to the hall computer 5A of the management servers 5. The data of the gaming machine is stored and managed for each bank and game medium lending device.

On the one hand, collation data D10 of an authentication result and image data (including music data and the like) D11 are transmitted from the management servers 5 to a predetermined game medium lending device together with a predetermined address information, through the bank management unit 30. The transmitted collation data D10 is transmitted to the card processor unit 20A, whereby processing of permitting game media lend-out or processing of disabling game media lend-out is executed. The transmitted image data D11 is displayed as an image on the image display unit 23 of the predetermined game medium lending device 20.

In the present embodiment, as described above, the network 120 between the game medium lending device 20 and the bank management unit 30 is made up of a conductor cable such as RS 485 or the like (first line 120 a) and the optical fiber which supports transmission and reception of large amounts of data (second line 120 b) which are disposed side by side. Data transmission and reception is thus simultaneously executed through both lines. Therefore, even if a failure occurs in one of the lines due to some reason, communication is continued through the other line, thus preventing suspension of the functions of the game medium lending device 20 as described above.

Hereinafter, data transmission and reception through the plurality of lines mentioned above will be specifically described.

With the above-described configuration of the network 120, a plurality of communication connections are established between bank management unit 30 and each game medium lending device 20 through the first line 120 a and the second line 120 b. Therefore, even if one of the communication connections fails, data transmission and reception can be carried out through the other communication connection.

The communication management controller 240 of each game medium lending device 20 and the communication management controller 340 of the management unit 30 as described above function as communication management means that transmits the same data through both lines to an addressee. The communication management controller 240 executes an inquiry on whether or not to permit data transmission to the communication management controller 340. This data includes game medium lend-out data and game data as described above. Upon the receipt of a transmit enable signal from the communication management controller 340, the communication management controller 240 simultaneously transmits data temporarily stored in the memory of the main CPU unit 200 by means of the above-mentioned lines 120 a and 120 b. This data includes at least game medium lend-out data and game data.

The communication management controller 340 receives the same items of data through lines 120 a and 120 b. As shown in the flow chart of FIG. 11, if the CPU unit 300 of the bank management unit 30 receives one item of data first, the CPU unit 300 stores this item of data in the memory, and then, cancels data that was received afterwards. In other words, in case of an inquiry from a random game medium lending device A installed inside the bank regarding transmission of data DA1 which includes game medium lend-out data and game data, the CPU unit 300 transmits a transmit enable signal for data DA1 to the game medium lending device A from which an inquiry was made (Step S1). Next, the CPU unit 300 awaits reception of data DA1 from the game medium lending device A through one line (Step S2). Then, once the data DA1 is received, the CPU unit 300 stores the data DA1 in the memory of the CPU unit 300 (Step S3). The CPU unit 300 then awaits input of the same data DA1 from the same game medium lending device through the other line (Step S4). Once the same data DA1 is inputted, the CPU unit 300 cancels this data DA1 thus inputted (Step S4: YES→Step S5). In other words, the memory of the CPU unit 300 never stores the same data redundantly.

On the other hand, at Step S4, if data DA1 is not input from the game medium lending device A within a predetermined time (Step S4: NO), an abnormality notification signal is transmitted to the player of the gaming facility (for instance, management server) if any communication failure occurs. Even in such case, one communication connection is established between the game medium lending device 20 and the bank management unit 30. This prevents severing of the data transmission from the game medium lending device and the CPU unit 300 of the bank management unit 30 executes processing of storing the data that will be transmitted subsequently.

According to the gaming facility management system 1 having the above configuration, at least the game medium lend-out data and the game data are transmitted in parallel using the two lines (the first line 120 a and the second line 120 b). With this configuration, even if one of the lines fails, communication is continued through the other line, thereby preventing suspension of the functions of the game medium lending device 20.

Generally, the inside of the bank which is closed in a narrow region inside a block is an environment in which noise is likely to be generated due to heat, moisture, dust and the like. Also, the gaming machine installed inside the bank includes accessories employing a liquid display device, an input device or an acoustic device and the like to further increase an interest in the game. An electromagnetic wave noise occurs in each type of control board installed inside the gaming machine that includes electrical components such as a switch, a monitor, a solenoid, a lamp or semiconductor elements such as a CPU, which are to be used as accessories. Further, a conveyor circular path which supplies game media to be used in the gaming machine, and at the same time, delivers the game media that were called back to the ball polishing machine is disposed in parallel with the wiring paths for various lines provided inside the bank. Electrostatic noise is generated due to friction of the game media in the ball polishing machine for the game media and in the conveyor circular path.

Thus, a communication line inside the bank to be used in the gaming facility management system 1 needs to take countermeasures against noise. For instance, a serial line (first line 120 a) such as the above-described RS-485 is employed to eliminate noise in a common mode using a differential signal in two paired lines at the receiver side. This makes it possible to improve reliability. The serial line such as RS-485 mentioned above is advantageous in that it has superior versatility, the associated installation costs are low, and failure recovery operation is easily made merely by line replacement.

In the above-described embodiment, the game medium lending device 20 has an image processing unit for processing image data. It is thus preferable that the communication management controller 340 of the bank management unit 30 and the communication management controller 240 of the game medium lending device 20 carry out image data transmission and reception using an optical fiber (second line 120 b) that supports transmission and reception of large amounts of data. In other words, in normal communication, game medium lend-out data and game data with a small amount of data are communicated using both the conductor cable (first line 120 a) and the optical fiber (second line 120 b) that supports transmission and reception of large amounts of data. On the other hand, larger amounts of data (image data) are communicated using the second line 120 b. In particular, in the above-described construction, image data which is information with an amount of data of 1 Mbps or more is transmitted to the game medium lending device 20, image data is captured by the CCD image pickup unit and the like, after which this data is transmitted to the management servers 5. The second line 120 b (optical fiber and the like) is thus constructed so as to support communication of lager amounts of data than the first line 120 a, thereby enabling transmission and reception of large amounts of data. Therefore, communication of game medium lend-out data and game data is never severed due to communication congestion and the like caused by insufficient communication band, thereby enabling communication of large amounts of data through the second line.

In the configuration described above, any one of the plurality of management servers (management servers 5) is made to have the function of the above bank management unit 30. The management server functioning as a bank management unit may be constructed so as to connect to a different management server. In this configuration, any one of the management servers disposed in each bank facility accumulates and controls the main data from the plurality of gaming medium lending devices installed inside the bank. The management server can transmit this data to another management server disposed in a management office, or can transmit the information data transmitted from this other management server to each game medium lending device through this management server. This makes data management for each bank facility easier. Each of the game medium lending devices 20 no longer communicates with the other management server. This enables transmission and reception of data amounts in accordance with the traffic state in the network and can prevent the occurrence of communication congestion.

Alternatively, any one of the plurality of game medium lending devices disposed inside the bank may be provided with the function of bank management unit 30 as described above.

In such construction, any one of the plurality of game medium lending devices 20 is provided with the function of bank management unit 30. This game medium lending device 20 is connected to the management servers 5, and as a result, the bank management unit 30 no longer needs to be provided. Thus, the number of devices, which are connected to the network, can be further reduced. Accordingly, the entire gaming facility management system can be simplified. This makes it possible to reduce traffic inside the network, and at the same time, suppress the occurrence of a network failure caused by connecting a large number of devices to the network.

In the above construction, if game medium lend-out data is transmitted, the game medium lend-out data may be subjected to a predetermined security processing. Such processing can be carried out based on a program stored in the CPU unit of the game medium lending device or a program stored in the CPU unit of the bank management unit 30. With such construction, if game medium lend-out data is transmitted, the game medium lend-out data is transmitted after being subjected to a predetermined security processing. This predetermined security processing includes various types of encryption processing and encapsulation using a predetermined protocol. Even if the gaming facility management system uses a communication line such as a LAN cable, for instance, which is widely used in general, which achieves low cost, and which is easily available to anybody, it is possible to improve security against interception and wire tapping of highly confidential data on game medium lend-out.

While the embodiment of the present invention has been described hereinbefore, the present invention is not limitative thereto, and various modifications can occur. For instance, the plurality of lines as described above may be disposed inside the network 100. Also, the above-described communication management controller may be provided in any one of the devices inside this network 100.

As described above, if one of the plurality of lines employs the optical fiber, an operation of recovering from a failure caused by a crack or the like may become complicated and recovery time may be extended. If the optical fiber is laid down across the bank, and more precisely above the ground or on the ground surface, the optical fiber may be easily broken if a player steps on it. Further, the recovery operation requires professional expertise and the associated recovery time is extended, thereby lowering communication reliability. Accordingly, by employing a serial line such as RS-485 or the like or a LAN cable and the like other than the above-described optical fiber for use in the communication line that makes a connection between the bank management unit 30 and the management servers 5, installation costs can be kept low and the failure recovery operation can be easily performed. As a result, the above problems can be solved, and at the same time, the lowering of communication reliability can be suppressed.

If the same data is received, both data is registered once in a plurality of areas in the RAM. Subsequently, if the same data is received, a certain amount of data (for instance, approximately 10 data) is registered in two areas, with one item of data being accumulated, and at the same time, one item of data being overwritten. As a result, reception data can be reliably stored in the RAM, and at the same time, reception data can be recovered even if it is destroyed.

The gaming facility management system shown in FIG. 1 is merely provided as an illustrative example, and various modifications can occur to the connection configuration between the respective devices. For instance, the hall computer 5A, the card server 5C, and the members' server 5D can be connected to the management operation terminal 6 through a HUB. At the same time, the bank management unit 30 can be connected to the hall computer 5A and the card server 5C through a HUB, and the gift management POS 40 and the receipt issuance/coin storage mechanism 50 can be connected to the members' server 5D through a HUB.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8140417 *May 9, 2008Mar 20, 2012Sharp Kabushiki KaishaData transmission system and data transmitting method
US20080280664 *Oct 26, 2006Nov 13, 2008Wms Gaming Inc.Powering Devices in Wagering Game Machines
US20080281624 *May 9, 2008Nov 13, 2008Sharp Kabushiki KaishaData transmission system and data transmitting method
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/42
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3223, G07F17/3232
European ClassificationG07F17/32E6, G07F17/32C6, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 26, 2010ASAssignment
Owner name: UNIVERSAL ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION, JAPAN
Effective date: 20091102
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:ARUZE CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:024766/0576
Jul 21, 2010ASAssignment
Effective date: 20090201
Owner name: ARUZE CORPORATION,JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SETA CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:24719/798
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SETA CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:024719/0798
Owner name: ARUZE CORPORATION, JAPAN
Jun 17, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: ARUZE CORP., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:YOSHIOKA, KAZUEI;REEL/FRAME:021106/0480
Effective date: 20080522
Owner name: SETA CORP., JAPAN