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Publication numberUS20090124351 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/937,923
Publication dateMay 14, 2009
Filing dateNov 9, 2007
Priority dateNov 9, 2007
Publication number11937923, 937923, US 2009/0124351 A1, US 2009/124351 A1, US 20090124351 A1, US 20090124351A1, US 2009124351 A1, US 2009124351A1, US-A1-20090124351, US-A1-2009124351, US2009/0124351A1, US2009/124351A1, US20090124351 A1, US20090124351A1, US2009124351 A1, US2009124351A1
InventorsDaniel J. DeWaal, Anthony J. Baerlocher
Original AssigneeIgt
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Gaming system, gaming device, and method having ancillary prizes
US 20090124351 A1
Abstract
A gaming system and method disclosed herein is operated by a casino or other gaming establishment. The gaming system and method disclosed herein enable players to earn entitlement offers for goods or services at gaming machines at a reduced cost to the players and the casino. The gaming system displays entitlement offers to one or more players after a designated threshold or criteria is met or exceeded. The entitlement offers give the players a right to purchase a good or service at a reduced or discount price. In one example, the gaming system generates or displays one or more entitlement offers to a player after a credit meter of one of the gaming machines changes by a designated amount. In another example, the gaming system generates or displays one or more entitlement offers to a player after an award threshold is met.
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Claims(40)
1. A gaming system comprising:
at least one memory device configured to store a plurality of instructions; and
a controller configured to execute the plurality of instructions to:
receive information from a plurality of gaming machines, the information associated with a credit meter of each gaming machine,
determine whether to generate at least one offer based on the received information associated with the credit meters, the offer being associated with a good or service at a discount price, and
if the determination is to generate the offer,
(i) transmit data associated with the offer to a designated number of the gaming machines, and
(ii) cause the designated number of gaming machines to generate the offer.
2. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the credit meter indicates a number of credits and the information associated with the credit meter includes an adjustment to the number of credits.
3. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the credit meter indicates a number of credits and the information associated with the credit meter includes an adjustment to the number of credits by a designated amount.
4. The gaming system of claim 3, wherein the discount price of the good or service is less than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
5. The gaming system of claim 3, wherein the cost is less than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
6. The gaming system of claim 3, wherein the good or service is associated with a cost and a retail value and wherein the retail value is greater than the cost and greater than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
7. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the good or service is associated with a cost and a retail value greater than the cost.
8. The gaming system of claim 7, wherein the discount price is greater than the cost and less than the retail value.
9. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the offer is independent from the game and any paytable associated with the game.
10. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the offer is redeemable by providing a payment for the offered good or service.
11. The gaming system of claim 10, wherein the credit meter indicates a number of credits and the payment is separate from said credits.
12. A gaming system comprising:
at least one gaming machine, the at least one gaming machine including:
(a) at least one display device operable to display a game operable upon placement of a wager, and
(b) a credit meter configured to indicate a number of credits for the game; and
a controller configured to operate with the at least one gaming machine to:
(i) cause a display of a play of the game,
(ii) cause a generation of an outcome for the play of the game,
(iii) cause an adjustment to the number of credits indicated by the credit meter, and
(iv) if the adjustment to the number of credits indicated by the credit meter reaches a designated amount, cause the at least one gaming machine to generate an offer, the offer entitling the player to purchase a good or service at a discount price,
13. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the discount price of the good or service is less than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
14. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the cost is less than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
15. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the good or service is associated with a cost and a retail value greater than the cost.
16. The gaming system of claim 15, wherein the retail value is greater than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
17. The gaming system of claim 15, wherein the discount price is greater than the cost and less than the retail value.
18. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the offer is independent from the game and any paytable associated with the game.
19. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the offer is redeemable by providing a payment for the offered good or service.
20. The gaming system of claim 19, wherein the payment is separate from any credits indicated on the credit meter.
21. A method of operating a gaming system, said comprising:
(a) receiving information from a plurality of gaming machines, the information associated with a credit meter of each gaming machine,
(b) determining whether to generate at least one offer based on the received information associated with the credit meters, the offer being associated with a good or service at a discount price, and
(c) if the determination is to generate the offer,
(i) transmitting data associated with the offer to a designated number of the gaming machines, and
(ii) causing the designated number of gaming machines to generate the offer.
22. The method of claim 21, which includes receiving information associated with a number of credits indicated by the credit meters and an adjustment, if any, to the number of credits.
23. The method of claim 21, which includes receiving information associated with a number of credits indicated by the credit meters and an adjustment, if any, to the number of credits by a designated amount.
24. The method of claim 23, wherein the discount price of the good or service is less than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
25. The method of claim 23, wherein the cost is less than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
26. The method of claim 23, wherein the good or service is associated with a cost and a retail value and wherein the retail value is greater than the cost and greater than or equal to the designated amount of the adjustment.
27. The method of claim 21, wherein the good or service is associated with a cost and a retail value greater than the cost.
28. The method of claim 27, wherein the discount price is greater than the cost and less than the retail value.
29. The method of claim 21, wherein the offer is independent from the game and any paytable associated with the game.
30. The method of claim 21, which includes facilitating a payment for the good or service associated with the offer.
31. The method of claim 30, wherein the payment is separate from any credits indicated on the credit meter.
32. A method of operating a gaming system, the method comprising:
(a) receiving information associated with a number of credits indicated by a credit meter associated with at least one gaming machine, the credits being usable for at least one wager for a play of the game;
(b) causing a display of the play of the game;
(c) causing a generation of an outcome for the play of the game;
(d) if the number of credits indicated by the credit meter changes by a designated amount, generating an offer entitling the player to purchase a good or service at a discount price.
33. The method of claim 32, wherein the discount price of the good or service is less than or equal to the designated amount of the change in the number of credits.
34. The method of claim 32, wherein the cost is less than or equal to the designated amount of the change in the number of credits.
35. The method of claim 32, wherein the good or service is associated with a cost and a retail value greater than the cost.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein the retail value is greater than or equal to the designated amount of the change in the number of credits.
37. The method of claim 35, wherein the discount price is greater than the cost and less than the retail value.
38. The method of claim 32, wherein the offer is independent from the game and any paytable associated with the game.
39. The method of claim 32, which includes facilitating a payment for the good or service associated with the offer.
40. The method of claim 39, wherein the payment is separate from any credits indicated on the credit meter.
Description
    COPYRIGHT NOTICE
  • [0001]
    A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains or may contain material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the photocopy reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure in exactly the form it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Gaming machines which provide players awards in primary or base games are well known. Gaming machines generally require the player to place or make a wager to activate the primary or base game. In many of these gaming machines, the award is based on the player obtaining a winning symbol or symbol combination and on the amount of the wager (e.g., the higher the wager, the higher the award). Generally, symbols or symbol combinations which are less likely to occur usually provide higher awards.
  • [0003]
    In such known gaming machines, the amount of the wager made on the base game by the player may vary. For instance, the gaming machine may allow the player to wager a minimum number of credits, such as one credit (e.g., one penny, nickel, dime, quarter or dollar) up to a maximum number of credits, such as five credits. This wager may be made by the player a single time or multiple times in a single play of the primary game. For instance, a slot game may have one or more paylines and the slot game may allow the player to make a wager on each payline in a single play of the primary game. Slot games with 1, 3, 5, 9, 15 and 25 lines are widely commercially available. Thus, it is known that a gaming machine, such as a slot game, may allow players to make wagers of substantially different amounts on each play of the primary or base game ranging, for example, from one credit up to one-hundred-twenty-five credits (e.g., five credits on each of twenty-five separate paylines). This is also true for other wagering games, such as video draw poker, where players can wager one or more credits on each hand and where multiple hands can be played simultaneously. Accordingly, it should be appreciated that different players play at substantially different wagering amounts or levels and at substantially different rates of play.
  • [0004]
    Secondary or bonus games are also known in gaming machines. The secondary or bonus games usually provide an additional award to the player. Secondary or bonus games usually do not require an additional wager by the player to be activated. Secondary or bonus games are generally activated or triggered upon an occurrence of a designated triggering symbol or triggering symbol combination in the primary or base game. For instance, a bonus symbol occurring on the payline on the third reel of a three reel slot machine may trigger the secondary bonus game. When a secondary or bonus game is triggered, the gaming machines generally indicates this to the player through one or more visual and/or audio output devices, such as the reels, lights, speakers, video screens, etc. Part of the enjoyment and excitement of playing certain gaming machines is the occurrence or triggering of the secondary or bonus game (even before the player knows how much the bonus award will be). In other words, obtaining a bonus event and a bonus award in the bonus event is part of the enjoyment and excitement for players.
  • [0005]
    Certain secondary or bonus games are activated automatically. Other secondary or bonus games require player activation. Once activated, certain secondary or bonus games play to the end or final bonus award automatically. Other secondary or bonus games require at least some level of player interaction which may vary. In certain secondary or bonus games, the player may need to pick selections. In some secondary or bonus games, the player is required to make one or more decisions, such as whether to risk one amount for a higher amount. From the triggering of these secondary or bonus games to the end of these secondary or bonus games, the player is generally provided indications, instructions and information about the play of these secondary or bonus games. These indications, instructions and information inform the player of how and why the player is obtaining or has obtained any award(s) in the secondary or bonus game. Gaming machines often include a display device, such as one or more reels, wheels, dice, and video display screens, to display how and why the player is obtaining the secondary or bonus award.
  • [0006]
    Gaming establishments have recognized the value of building customer loyalty through identifying frequent customers and rewarding those customers for their patronage. These rewards are typically referred to as comps or promotions. To properly identify customers that are deserving of special comp or promotional rewards, automated player tracking technologies are typically employed to accurately identify players at gaming machines. Each particular player's gaming activity in association with primary and secondary games enables gaming establishments to target which individual players deserve to receive comps or promotions. A player tracking system typically includes one or more devices which track and store information regarding one or more aspects of a player's gaming activity. Such systems include issuing individual player tracking cards to one or more players, wherein for each time a player participates in a qualified gaming activity, the gaming system associates and stores the player's gaming activity with the player's player tracking account. Based on this stored information or data, the gaming establishment classifies each player and provides one or more of such players certain benefits based on these classifications and their gaming activity.
  • [0007]
    These promotions or comps often represent a cost (and sometimes a loss) to such gaming establishments. Even so, many promotional materials targeted toward, or directly marketed to, certain players go unredeemed by players. Unredeemed comps or promotions represent a cost to the gaming establishment and cause a source of unrealized value for either the gaming establishment or the player. Thus, there exists a need to provide better promotions to the players which may use or benefit from the promotions, and to control the associated costs of gaming establishments by offering such promotions or comps.
  • [0008]
    There is also a continuing need to provide new and different gaming machines and gaming systems as well as new and different ways to provide awards or promotions in association with such gaming machines and gaming systems.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0009]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method is operated by a casino or other gaming establishment. The gaming system and method disclosed herein enable players to earn entitlement offers for goods, services or awards at gaming machines at a reduced cost to the players and the casino. The promotion enables such players to qualify for one or more entitlement offers after a designated threshold or criteria is met or exceeded. Such entitlement offers give the players a right to purchase a good or service at a reduced or discount price. For example, after a credit meter of a gaming machine adjusts by a certain amount of credits or monetary units, the gaming system provides the player with an entitlement offer for a good or service. In another example, after a player wins an award of a certain amount of credits or monetary units (e.g., an award threshold), the gaming system displays an entitlement offer for a good or service to the player.
  • [0010]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method disclosed herein offers a player of a gaming machine one or more goods and services and enables the player to purchase such goods or services at discounted prices independent from money or credits associated with the gaming machine (i.e., gaming currency). That is, payment for such goods and services is not deducted from any gaming currency (e.g., credits or monies) used for playing a game at the gaming machine. Such offers enable a casino or other gaming establishment to provide players with awards in addition to offering the player a good or service at a discounted price.
  • [0011]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method disclosed herein offers a player of a gaming machine one or more goods and services after the player wins an award at the gaming machine. In this embodiment, the gaming system and method enables the player to spend the award or part of the award without using gaming currency. This purchase is effected by a payment separate from the award and any paytable associated with the game. Such offers enable a casino or other gaming establishment to provide the player with an award in addition to enabling the player to purchase a good or service at equal or lesser value than the provided award.
  • [0012]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system enables the casino or other gaming establishment to market goods or services to players while allowing further game play at the gaming machine, wherein the goods or services are provided at a reduced cost to both the casino and the player. For example, a good or service is associated with a cost and retail value. The retail value is greater than the cost, which enables the casino to profit by offering the good or service. Offering a good or service at a discounted price which is less than the retail price and above the casino's cost benefits both the casino and the player offered the good or service. For example, a player wins a $175 award at one of the gaming machines in the gaming system. In this example, the gaming system offers the player a hotel suite in the casino valued at $350 for a discount price of $175. In this example, the suite is associated with a cost of $100 for the casino. By offering the suite to a player for $175, the casino can realize a $75 profit and the player can realize a $175 savings if the player accepts the offer. If the player accepts the offer, the gaming system facilitates a $175 payment from the player without the player using the $175 award (e.g., 175 credits at a $1 gaming machine) or any other gaming currency for such payment.
  • [0013]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method enables the player to accept an offer for a good or service by purchasing the good or service directly at the gaming machine right after the player wins a designated award. Purchases include a payment of a designated amount associated with the offer, such as the discount price of a good or service. In one such embodiment, the gaming system enables the player to purchase the good or service from the gaming machine without using credits or monies in the player's credit meter. In another embodiment, the gaming system enables the gaming machine to print tickets associated with goods or services offered to a player. In this embodiment, the player redeems the ticket at a point-of-sale associated with the good or service.
  • [0014]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system provides a player with an offer for a discounted good or service after an occurrence of a positive event, such as after the player wins an award at or above a designated level or after the credit meter of the gaming device being played by the player adjusts by a designated amount. In one embodiment, the gaming system provides a player with a ticket including an offer for a discounted good or service after a determination to generate or provide the offer. In another embodiment, the gaming system provides a player with an offer for a discounted good or service after the player wins an award of a certain threshold or amount. In one embodiment, the gaming system is associated with a plurality of offers and selects which offer to provide to a player based on the positive event which occurred or the award won by or provided to the player. In such embodiments, the offer expires after a designated amount of time.
  • [0015]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method communicate with a player tracking system to target offers for goods or services to certain players. In one such embodiment, the player tracking system includes a player profile or account for each player. In one embodiment, the player profile or account includes the player's name, address, and wager history. Based on the player profile or account, the gaming system can provide a player with one or more offers for a good or service which the player will find appealing. In one embodiment, the gaming system provides the offer to the player's profile or account where the offer can be stored for a designated time (e.g., until expiration) and selectively redeemed by the player.
  • [0016]
    Additional features and advantages are described herein, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description and the figures.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0017]
    FIG. 1A is a front-side perspective view of one embodiment of the gaming device disclosed herein.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 1B is a front-side perspective view of another embodiment of the gaming device disclosed herein.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 2A is a schematic block diagram of the electronic configuration of one embodiment of the gaming device disclosed herein.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 2B is a schematic block diagram illustrating a plurality of gaming terminals in communication with a central controller.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 3 is a flowchart of an example process for one embodiment of the gaming system and method disclosed herein, which generates an offer for a discount on a good or service.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 4 is a flowchart of an example process for one embodiment of the gaming system and method disclosed herein, which enables players to be provided an offer for a discount on a good or service.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an example process for one embodiment of the gaming system and method disclosed herein, which enables players to accept or reject an offer for a discount on a good or service.
  • [0024]
    FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D are top plan views of a display device of one of the gaming devices of one embodiment of the gaming system disclosed herein illustrating a game interface and a player interface.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 7 is a front view of an example ticket printable by one of the gaming devices in one embodiment of the gaming system disclosed herein.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0026]
    The present disclosure may be implemented in various configurations for gaming machines or gaming devices, including but not limited to: (1) a dedicated gaming machine or gaming device, wherein the computerized instructions for controlling any games (which are provided by the gaming machine or gaming device) are provided with the gaming machine or gaming device prior to delivery to a gaming establishment; and (2) a changeable gaming machine or gaming device, where the computerized instructions for controlling any games (which are provided by the gaming machine or gaming device) are downloadable to the gaming machine or gaming device through a data network when the gaming machine or gaming device is in a gaming establishment.
  • [0027]
    In one embodiment, the computerized instructions for controlling any games are executed by at least one central server, central controller or remote host. In such a “thin client” embodiment, the central server remotely controls any games (or other suitable interfaces) and the gaming device is utilized to display such games (or suitable interfaces) and receive one or more inputs or commands from a player. In another embodiment, the computerized instructions for controlling any games are communicated from the central server, central controller or remote host to a gaming device local processor and memory devices. In such a “thick client” embodiment, the gaming device local processor executes the communicated computerized instructions to control any games (or other suitable interfaces) provided to a player.
  • [0028]
    In one embodiment, one or more gaming devices in a gaming system may be thin client gaming devices and one or more gaming devices in the gaming system may be thick client gaming devices. In another embodiment, certain functions of the gaming device are implemented in a thin client environment and certain other functions of the gaming device are implemented in a thick client environment. In one such embodiment, computerized instructions for controlling any primary games are communicated from the central server to the gaming device in a thick client configuration and computerized instructions for controlling any secondary games or bonus functions are executed by a central server in a thin client configuration.
  • [0029]
    Referring now to the drawings, two example alternative embodiments of the gaming device of the disclosed herein are illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B as gaming device 10 a and gaming device 10 b, respectively. Gaming device 10 a and/or gaming device 10 b are generally referred to herein as gaming device 10.
  • [0030]
    In the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, gaming device 10 has a support structure, housing or cabinet which provides support for a plurality of displays, inputs, controls and other features of a conventional gaming machine. It is configured so that a player can operate it while standing or sitting. The gaming device may be positioned on a base or stand or can be configured as a pub-style table-top game (not shown) which a player can operate preferably while sitting. As illustrated by the different configurations shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the gaming device may have varying cabinet and display configurations.
  • [0031]
    In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, the gaming device preferably includes at least one processor 12, such as a microprocessor, a microcontroller-based platform, a suitable integrated circuit or one or more application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC's). The processor is in communication with or operable to access or to exchange signals with at least one data storage or memory device 14. In one embodiment, the processor and the memory device reside within the cabinet of the gaming device. The memory device stores program code and instructions, executable by the processor, to control the gaming device. The memory device also stores other data such as image data, event data, player input data, random or pseudo-random number generators, pay-table data or information and applicable game rules that relate to the play of the gaming device. In one embodiment, the memory device includes random access memory (RAM), which can include non-volatile RAM (NVRAM), magnetic RAM (MRAM), ferroelectric RAM (FeRAM) and other forms as commonly understood in the gaming industry. In one embodiment, the memory device includes read only memory (ROM). In one embodiment, the memory device includes flash memory and/or EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read only memory). Any other suitable magnetic, optical and/or semiconductor memory may operate in conjunction with the gaming device disclosed herein.
  • [0032]
    In one embodiment, part or all of the program code and/or operating data described above can be stored in a detachable or removable memory device, including, but not limited to, a suitable cartridge, disk, CD ROM, DVD or USB memory device. In other embodiments, part or all of the program code and/or operating data described above can be downloaded to the memory device through a suitable network.
  • [0033]
    In one embodiment, an operator or a player can use such a removable memory device in a desktop computer, a laptop personal computer, a personal digital assistant (PDA), portable computing device, or other computerized platform to implement the present disclosure. In one embodiment, the gaming device or gaming machine disclosed herein is operable over a wireless network, such as part of a wireless gaming system. In this embodiment, the gaming machine may be a hand held device, a mobile device or any other suitable wireless device that enables a player to play any suitable game at a variety of different locations. It should be appreciated that a gaming device or gaming machine as disclosed herein may be a device that has obtained approval from a regulatory gaming commission or a device that has not obtained approval from a regulatory gaming commission. It should be appreciated that the processor and memory device may be collectively referred to herein as a “computer” or “controller.”
  • [0034]
    In one embodiment, as discussed in more detail below, the gaming device randomly generates awards and/or other game outcomes based on probability data. In one such embodiment, this random determination is provided through utilization of a random number generator (RNG), such as a true random number generator, a pseudo random number generator or other suitable randomization process. In one embodiment, each award or other game outcome is associated with a probability and the gaming device generates the award or other game outcome to be provided to the player based on the associated probabilities. In this embodiment, since the gaming device generates outcomes randomly or based upon one or more probability calculations, there is no certainty that the gaming device will ever provide the player with any specific award or other game outcome.
  • [0035]
    In another embodiment, as discussed in more detail below, the gaming device employs a predetermined or finite set or pool of awards or other game outcomes. In this embodiment, as each award or other game outcome is provided to the player, the gaming device flags or removes the provided award or other game outcome from the predetermined set or pool. Once flagged or removed from the set or pool, the specific provided award or other game outcome from that specific pool cannot be provided to the player again. This type of gaming device provides players with all of the available awards or other game outcomes over the course of the play cycle and guarantees the amount of actual wins and losses.
  • [0036]
    In another embodiment, as discussed below, upon a player initiating game play at the gaming device, the gaming device enrolls in a bingo game. In this embodiment, a bingo server calls the bingo balls that result in a specific bingo game outcome. The resultant game outcome is communicated to the individual gaming device to be provided to a player. In one embodiment, this bingo outcome is displayed to the player as a bingo game and/or in any form in accordance with the present disclosure.
  • [0037]
    In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, the gaming device includes one or more display devices controlled by the processor. The display devices are preferably connected to or mounted to the cabinet of the gaming device. The embodiment shown in FIG. 1A includes a central display device 16 which displays a primary game. This display device may also display any suitable secondary game associated with the primary game as well as information relating to the primary or secondary game. The alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 1B includes a central display device 16 and an upper display device 18. The upper display device may display the primary game, any suitable secondary game associated or not associated with the primary game and/or information relating to the primary or secondary game. These display devices may also serve as digital glass operable to advertise games or other aspects of the gaming establishment. As seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B, in one embodiment, the gaming device includes a credit display 20 which displays a player's current number of credits, cash, account balance or the equivalent. In one embodiment, the gaming device includes a bet display 22 which displays a player's amount wagered. In one embodiment, as described in more detail below, the gaming device includes a player tracking display 40 which displays information regarding a player's playing tracking status.
  • [0038]
    In another embodiment, at least one display device may be a mobile display device, such as a PDA or tablet PC, that enables play of at least a portion of the primary or secondary game at a location remote from the gaming device.
  • [0039]
    The display devices may include, without limitation, a monitor, a television display, a plasma display, a liquid crystal display (LCD) a display based on light emitting diodes (LED), a display based on a plurality of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), a display based on polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs), a display based on a plurality of surface-conduction electron-emitters (SEDs), a display including a projected and/or reflected image or any other suitable electronic device or display mechanism. In one embodiment, as described in more detail below, the display device includes a touch-screen with an associated touch-screen controller. The display devices may be of any suitable size and configuration, such as a square, a rectangle or an elongated rectangle.
  • [0040]
    The display devices of the gaming device are configured to display at least one and preferably a plurality of game or other suitable images, symbols and indicia such as any visual representation or exhibition of the movement of objects such as mechanical, virtual or video reels and wheels, dynamic lighting, video images, images of people, characters, places, things and faces of cards, and the like.
  • [0041]
    In one alternative embodiment, the symbols, images and indicia displayed on or of the display device may be in mechanical form. That is, the display device may include any electromechanical device, such as one or more mechanical objects, such as one or more rotatable wheels, reels or dice, configured to display at least one or a plurality of game or other suitable images, symbols or indicia.
  • [0042]
    As illustrated in FIG. 2A, in one embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one payment device 24 in communication with the processor. As seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B, a payment device such as a payment acceptor includes a note, ticket or bill acceptor 28 wherein the player inserts paper money, a ticket or voucher and a coin slot 26 where the player inserts money, coins, or tokens. In other embodiments, payment devices such as readers or validators for credit cards, debit cards or credit slips may accept payment. In one embodiment, a player may insert an identification card into a card reader of the gaming device. In one embodiment, the identification card is a smart card having a programmed microchip or a magnetic strip coded with a player's identification, credit totals (or related data) and other relevant information. In another embodiment, a player may carry a portable device, such as a cell phone, a radio frequency identification tag or any other suitable wireless device, which communicates a player's identification, credit totals (or related data) and other relevant information to the gaming device. In one embodiment, money may be transferred to a gaming device through electronic funds transfer. When a player funds the gaming device, the processor determines the amount of funds entered and displays the corresponding amount on the credit or other suitable display as described above.
  • [0043]
    As seen in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2A, in one embodiment the gaming device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of input devices 30 in communication with the processor. The input devices can include any suitable device which enables the player to produce an input signal which is received by the processor. In one embodiment, after appropriate funding of the gaming device, the input device is a game activation device, such as a play button 32 or a pull arm (not shown) which is used by the player to start any primary game or sequence of events in the gaming device. The play button can be any suitable play activator such as a bet one button, a max bet button or a repeat the bet button. In one embodiment, upon appropriate funding, the gaming device begins the game play automatically. In another embodiment, upon the player engaging one of the play buttons, the gaming device automatically activates game play.
  • [0044]
    In one embodiment, one input device is a bet one button. The player places a bet by pushing the bet one button. The player can increase the bet by one credit each time the player pushes the bet one button. When the player pushes the bet one button, the number of credits shown in the credit display preferably decreases by one, and the number of credits shown in the bet display preferably increases by one. In another embodiment, one input device is a bet max button (not shown) which enables the player to bet the maximum wager permitted for a game of the gaming device.
  • [0045]
    In one embodiment, one input device is a cash out button 34. The player may push the cash out button and cash out to receive a cash payment or other suitable form of payment corresponding to the number of remaining credits. In one embodiment, when the player cashes out, a payment device, such as a ticket, payment or note generator 36 prints or otherwise generates a ticket or credit slip to provide to the player. The player receives the ticket or credit slip and may redeem the value associated with the ticket or credit slip via a cashier (or other suitable redemption system). In another embodiment, when the player cashes out, the player receives the coins or tokens in a coin payout tray. It should be appreciated that any suitable payout mechanisms, such as funding to the player's electronically recordable identification card may be implemented in accordance with the gaming device disclosed herein.
  • [0046]
    In one embodiment, as mentioned above and seen in FIG. 2A, one input device is a touch-screen 42 coupled with a touch-screen controller 44, or some other touch-sensitive display overlay to allow for player interaction with the images on the display. The touch-screen and the touch-screen controller are connected to a video controller 46. A player can make decisions and input signals into the gaming device by touching the touch-screen at the appropriate places. One such input device is a conventional touch-screen button panel.
  • [0047]
    The gaming device may further include a plurality of communication ports for enabling communication of the processor with external peripherals, such as external video sources, expansion buses, game or other displays, an SCSI port or a key pad.
  • [0048]
    In one embodiment, as seen in FIG. 2A, the gaming device includes a sound generating device controlled by one or more sounds cards 48, which function in conjunction with the processor. In one embodiment, the sound generating device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of speakers 50 or other sound generating hardware and/or software for generating sounds, such as playing music for the primary and/or secondary game or for other modes of the gaming device, such as an attract mode. In one embodiment, the gaming device provides dynamic sounds coupled with attractive multimedia images displayed on one or more of the display devices to provide an audio-visual representation or to otherwise display full-motion video with sound to attract players to the gaming device. During idle periods, the gaming device may display a sequence of audio and/or visual attraction messages to attract potential players to the gaming device. The videos may also be customized for or to provide any appropriate information.
  • [0049]
    In one embodiment, the gaming machine may include a sensor, such as a camera in communication with the processor (and possibly controlled by the processor) that is selectively positioned to acquire an image of a player actively using the gaming device and/or the surrounding area of the gaming device. In one embodiment, the camera may be configured to selectively acquire still or moving (e.g., video) images and may be configured to acquire the images in either an analog, digital or other suitable format. The display devices may be configured to display the image acquired by the camera as well as display the visible manifestation of the game in split screen or picture-in-picture fashion. For example, the camera may acquire an image of the player and the processor may incorporate that image into the primary and/or secondary game as a game image, symbol or indicia.
  • [0050]
    Gaming device 10 can incorporate any suitable wagering primary or base game. The gaming machine or device may include some or all of the features of conventional gaming machines or devices. The primary or base game may comprise any suitable reel-type game, card game, cascading or falling symbol game, number game or other game of chance susceptible to representation in an electronic or electromechanical form, which in one embodiment produces a random outcome based on probability data at the time of or after placement of a wager. That is, different primary wagering games, such as video poker games, video blackjack games, video keno, video bingo or any other suitable primary or base game may be implemented.
  • [0051]
    In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, a base or primary game may be a slot game with one or more paylines 52. The paylines may be horizontal, vertical, circular, diagonal, angled or any combination thereof. In this embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one and preferably a plurality of reels 54, such as three to five reels 54, in either electromechanical form with mechanical rotating reels or video form with simulated reels and movement thereof. In one embodiment, an electromechanical slot machine includes a plurality of adjacent, rotatable reels which may be combined and operably coupled with an electronic display of any suitable type. In another embodiment, if the reels 54 are in video form, one or more of the display devices, as described above, display the plurality of simulated video reels 54. Each reel 54 displays a plurality of indicia or symbols, such as bells, hearts, fruits, numbers, letters, bars or other images which preferably correspond to a theme associated with the gaming device. In another embodiment, one or more of the reels are independent reels or unisymbol reels. In this embodiment, each independent or unisymbol reel generates and displays one symbol to the player. In one embodiment, the gaming device awards prizes after the reels of the primary game stop spinning if specified types and/or configurations of indicia or symbols occur on an active payline or otherwise occur in a winning pattern, occur on the requisite number of adjacent reels and/or occur in a scatter pay arrangement.
  • [0052]
    In an alternative embodiment, rather than determining any outcome to provide to the player by analyzing the symbols generated on any wagered upon paylines as described above, the gaming device determines any outcome to provide to the player based on the number of associated symbols which are generated in active symbol positions on the requisite number of adjacent reels (i.e., not on paylines passing through any displayed winning symbol combinations). In this embodiment, if a winning symbol combination is generated on the reels, the gaming device provides the player one award for that occurrence of the generated winning symbol combination. For example, if one winning symbol combination is generated on the reels, the gaming device will provide a single award to the player for that winning symbol combination (i.e., not based on the number of paylines that would have passed through that winning symbol combination). It should be appreciated that because a gaming device with wagering on ways to win provides the player one award for a single occurrence of a winning symbol combination and a gaming device with paylines may provide the player more than one award for the same occurrence of a single winning symbol combination (i.e., if a plurality of paylines each pass through the same winning symbol combination), it is possible to provide a player at a ways to win gaming device with more ways to win for an equivalent bet or wager on a traditional slot gaming device with paylines.
  • [0053]
    In one embodiment, the total number of ways to win is determined by multiplying the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions on a first reel by the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions on a second reel by the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions on a third reel and so on for each reel of the gaming device with at least one symbol generated in an active symbol position. For example, a three reel gaming device with three symbols generated in active symbol positions on each reel includes 27 ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel). A four reel gaming device with three symbols generated in active symbol positions on each reel includes 81 ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel×3 symbols on the fourth reel). A five reel gaming device with three symbols generated in active symbol positions on each reel includes 243 ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel×3 symbols on the fourth reel×3 symbols on the fifth reel). It should be appreciated that modifying the number of generated symbols by either modifying the number of reels or modifying the number of symbols generated in active symbol positions by one or more of the reels, modifies the number of ways to win.
  • [0054]
    In another embodiment, the gaming device enables a player to wager on and thus activate symbol positions. In one such embodiment, the symbol positions are on the reels. In this embodiment, if based on the player's wager, a reel is activated, then each of the symbol positions of that reel will be activated and each of the active symbol positions will be part of one or more of the ways to win. In one embodiment, if based on the player's wager, a reel is not activated, then a designated number of default symbol positions, such as a single symbol position of the middle row of the reel, will be activated and the default symbol position(s) will be part of one or more of the ways to win. This type of gaming machine enables a player to wager on one, more or each of the reels and the processor of the gaming device uses the number of wagered on reels to determine the active symbol positions and the number of possible ways to win. In alternative embodiments, (1) no symbols are displayed as generated at any of the inactive symbol positions, or (2) any symbols generated at any inactive symbol positions may be displayed to the player but suitably shaded or otherwise designated as inactive.
  • [0055]
    In one embodiment wherein a player wagers on one or more reels, a player's wager of one credit may activate each of the three symbol positions on a first reel, wherein one default symbol position is activated on each of the remaining four reels. In this example, as described above, the gaming device provides the player three ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×1 symbol on the second reel×1 symbol on the third reel×1 symbol on the fourth reel×1 symbol on the fifth reel). In another example, a player's wager of nine credits may activate each of the three symbol positions on a first reel, each of the three symbol positions on a second reel and each of the three symbol positions on a third reel wherein one default symbol position is activated on each of the remaining two reels. In this example, as described above, the gaming device provides the player twenty-seven ways to win (i.e., 3 symbols on the first reel×3 symbols on the second reel×3 symbols on the third reel×1 symbol on the fourth reel×1 symbol on the fifth reel).
  • [0056]
    In one embodiment, to determine any award(s) to provide to the player based on the generated symbols, the gaming device individually determines if a symbol generated in an active symbol position on a first reel forms part of a winning symbol combination with or is otherwise suitably related to a symbol generated in an active symbol position on a second reel. In this embodiment, the gaming device classifies each pair of symbols which form part of a winning symbol combination (i.e., each pair of related symbols) as a string of related symbols. For example, if active symbol positions include a first cherry symbol generated in the top row of a first reel and a second cherry symbol generated in the bottom row of a second reel, the gaming device classifies the two cherry symbols as a string of related symbols because the two cherry symbols form part of a winning symbol combination.
  • [0057]
    After determining if any strings of related symbols are formed between the symbols on the first reel and the symbols on the second reel, the gaming device determines if any of the symbols from the next adjacent reel should be added to any of the formed strings of related symbols. In this embodiment, for a first of the classified strings of related symbols, the gaming device determines if any of the symbols generated by the next adjacent reel form part of a winning symbol combination or are otherwise related to the symbols of the first string of related symbols. If the gaming device determines that a symbol generated on the next adjacent reel is related to the symbols of the first string of related symbols, that symbol is subsequently added to the first string of related symbols. For example, if the first string of related symbols is the string of related cherry symbols and a related cherry symbol is generated in the middle row of the third reel, the gaming device adds the related cherry symbol generated on the third reel to the previously classified string of cherry symbols.
  • [0058]
    On the other hand, if the gaming device determines that no symbols generated on the next adjacent reel are related to the symbols of the first string of related symbols, the gaming device marks or flags such string of related symbols as complete. For example, if the first string of related symbols is the string of related cherry symbols and none of the symbols of the third reel are related to the cherry symbols of the previously classified string of cherry symbols, the gaming device marks or flags the string of cherry symbols as complete.
  • [0059]
    After either adding a related symbol to the first string of related symbols or marking the first string of related symbols as complete, the gaming device proceeds as described above for each of the remaining classified strings of related symbols which were previously classified or formed from related symbols on the first and second reels.
  • [0060]
    After analyzing each of the remaining strings of related symbols, the gaming device determines, for each remaining pending or incomplete string of related symbols, if any of the symbols from the next adjacent reel, if any, should be added to any of the previously classified strings of related symbols. This process continues until either each string of related symbols is complete or there are no more adjacent reels of symbols to analyze. In this embodiment, where there are no more adjacent reels of symbols to analyze, the gaming device marks each of the remaining pending strings of related symbols as complete.
  • [0061]
    When each of the strings of related symbols is marked complete, the gaming device compares each of the strings of related symbols to an appropriate paytable and provides the player any award associated with each of the completed strings of symbols. It should be appreciated that the player is provided one award, if any, for each string of related symbols generated in active symbol positions (i.e., as opposed to being based on how many paylines that would have passed through each of the strings of related symbols in active symbol positions).
  • [0062]
    In one embodiment, a base or primary game may be a poker game wherein the gaming device enables the player to play a conventional game of video draw poker and initially deals five cards all face up from a virtual deck of fifty-two card deck. Cards may be dealt as in a traditional game of cards or in the case of the gaming device, may also include that the cards are randomly selected from a predetermined number of cards. If the player wishes to draw, the player selects the cards to hold via one or more input device, such as pressing related hold buttons or via the touch screen. The player then presses the deal button and the unwanted or discarded cards are removed from the display and the gaming machine deals the replacement cards from the remaining cards in the deck. This results in a final five-card hand. The gaming device compares the final five-card hand to a payout table which utilizes conventional poker hand rankings to determine the winning hands. The gaming device provides the player with an award based on a winning hand and the credits the player wagered.
  • [0063]
    In another embodiment, the base or primary game may be a multi-hand version of video poker. In this embodiment, the gaming device deals the player at least two hands of cards. In one such embodiment, the cards are the same cards. In one embodiment each hand of cards is associated with its own deck of cards. The player chooses the cards to hold in a primary hand. The held cards in the primary hand are also held in the other hands of cards. The remaining non-held cards are removed from each hand displayed and for each hand replacement cards are randomly dealt into that hand. Since the replacement cards are randomly dealt independently for each hand, the replacement cards for each hand will usually be different. The poker hand rankings are then determined hand by hand and awards are provided to the player.
  • [0064]
    In one embodiment, a base or primary game may be a keno game wherein the gaming device displays a plurality of selectable indicia or numbers on at least one of the display devices. In this embodiment, the player selects at least one or a plurality of the selectable indicia or numbers via an input device such as the touch screen. The gaming device then displays a series of drawn numbers to determine an amount of matches, if any, between the player's selected numbers and the gaming device's drawn numbers. The player is provided an award based on the amount of matches, if any, based on the amount of determined matches and the number of numbers drawn.
  • [0065]
    In one embodiment, in addition to winning credits or other awards in a base or primary game, the gaming device may also give players the opportunity to win credits in a bonus or secondary game or bonus or secondary round. The bonus or secondary game enables the player to obtain a prize or payout in addition to the prize or payout, if any, obtained from the base or primary game. In general, a bonus or secondary game produces a significantly higher level of player excitement than the base or primary game because it provides a greater expectation of winning than the base or primary game and is accompanied with more attractive or unusual features than the base or primary game. In one embodiment, the bonus or secondary game may be any type of suitable game, either similar to or completely different from the base or primary game.
  • [0066]
    In one embodiment, the triggering event or qualifying condition may be a selected outcome in the primary game or a particular arrangement of one or more indicia on a display device in the primary game, such as the number seven appearing on three adjacent reels along a payline in the primary slot game embodiment seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B. In other embodiments, the triggering event or qualifying condition may be by exceeding a certain amount of game play (such as number of games, number of credits, amount of time), or reaching a specified number of points earned during game play.
  • [0067]
    In another embodiment, the gaming device processor 12 or central server 56 randomly provides the player one or more plays of one or more secondary games. In one such embodiment, the gaming device does not provide any apparent reasons to the player for qualifying to play a secondary or bonus game. In this embodiment, qualifying for a bonus game is not triggered by an event in or based specifically on any of the plays of any primary game. That is, the gaming device may simply qualify a player to play a secondary game without any explanation or alternatively with simple explanations. In another embodiment, the gaming device (or central server) qualifies a player for a secondary game at least partially based on a game triggered or symbol triggered event, such as at least partially based on the play of a primary game.
  • [0068]
    In one embodiment, the gaming device includes a program that will automatically begin a bonus round after the player has achieved a triggering event or qualifying condition in the base or primary game. In another embodiment, after a player has qualified for a bonus game, the player may subsequently enhance his/her bonus game participation through continued play on the base or primary game. Thus, for each bonus qualifying event, such as a bonus symbol, that the player obtains, a given number of bonus game wagering points or credits may be accumulated in a “bonus meter” programmed to accrue the bonus wagering credits or entries toward eventual participation in a bonus game. The occurrence of multiple such bonus qualifying events in the primary game may result in an arithmetic or exponential increase in the number of bonus wagering credits awarded. In one embodiment, the player may redeem extra bonus wagering credits during the bonus game to extend play of the bonus game.
  • [0069]
    In one embodiment, no separate entry fee or buy in for a bonus game need be employed. That is, a player may not purchase an entry into a bonus game, rather they must win or earn entry through play of the primary game thus, encouraging play of the primary game. In another embodiment, qualification of the bonus or secondary game is accomplished through a simple “buy in” by the player, for example, if the player has been unsuccessful at qualifying through other specified activities. In another embodiment, the player must make a separate side-wager on the bonus game or wager a designated amount in the primary game to qualify for the secondary game. In this embodiment, the secondary game triggering event must occur and the side-wager (or designated primary game wager amount) must have been placed to trigger the secondary game.
  • [0070]
    In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2B, one or more of the gaming devices 10 are in communication with each other and/or at least one central server, central controller or remote host 56 through a data network or remote communication link 58. In this embodiment, the central server, central controller or remote host is any suitable server or computing device which includes at least one processor and at least one memory or storage device. In different such embodiments, the central server is a progressive controller or a processor of one of the gaming devices in the gaming system. In these embodiments, the processor of each gaming device is designed to transmit and receive events, messages, commands or any other suitable data or signal between the individual gaming device and the central server. The gaming device processor is operable to execute such communicated events, messages or commands in conjunction with the operation of the gaming device. Moreover, the processor of the central server is designed to transmit and receive events, messages, commands or any other suitable data or signal between the central server and each of the individual gaming devices. The central server processor is operable to execute such communicated events, messages or commands in conjunction with the operation of the central server. It should be appreciated that one, more or each of the functions of the central controller as disclosed herein may be performed by one or more gaming device processors. It should be further appreciated that one, more or each of the functions of one or more gaming device processors as disclosed herein may be performed by the central controller.
  • [0071]
    In one embodiment, the game outcome provided to the player is determined by a central server or controller and provided to the player at the gaming device. In this embodiment, each of a plurality of such gaming devices are in communication with the central server or controller. Upon a player initiating game play at one of the gaming devices, the initiated gaming device communicates a game outcome request to the central server or controller.
  • [0072]
    In one embodiment, the central server or controller receives the game outcome request and randomly generates a game outcome for the primary game based on probability data. In another embodiment, the central server or controller randomly generates a game outcome for the secondary game based on probability data. In another embodiment, the central server or controller randomly generates a game outcome for both the primary game and the secondary game based on probability data. In this embodiment, the central server or controller is capable of storing and utilizing program code or other data similar to the processor and memory device of the gaming device.
  • [0073]
    In an alternative embodiment, the central server or controller maintains one or more predetermined pools or sets of predetermined game outcomes. In this embodiment, the central server or controller receives the game outcome request and independently selects a predetermined game outcome from a set or pool of game outcomes. The central server or controller flags or marks the selected game outcome as used. Once a game outcome is flagged as used, it is prevented from further selection from the set or pool and cannot be selected by the central controller or server upon another wager. The provided game outcome can include a primary game outcome, a secondary game outcome, primary and secondary game outcomes, or a series of game outcomes such as free games.
  • [0074]
    The central server or controller communicates the generated or selected game outcome to the initiated gaming device. The gaming device receives the generated or selected game outcome and provides the game outcome to the player. In an alternative embodiment, how the generated or selected game outcome is to be presented or displayed to the player, such as a reel symbol combination of a slot machine or a hand of cards dealt in a card game, is also determined by the central server or controller and communicated to the initiated gaming device to be presented or displayed to the player. Central production or control can assist a gaming establishment or other entity in maintaining appropriate records, controlling gaming, reducing and preventing cheating or electronic or other errors, reducing or eliminating win-loss volatility and the like.
  • [0075]
    In another embodiment, a predetermined game outcome value is determined for each of a plurality of linked or networked gaming devices based on the results of a bingo, keno or lottery game. In this embodiment, each individual gaming device utilizes one or more bingo, keno or lottery games to determine the predetermined game outcome value provided to the player for the interactive game played at that gaming device. In one embodiment, the bingo, keno or lottery game is displayed to the player. In another embodiment, the bingo, keno or lottery game is not displayed to the player, but the results of the bingo, keno or lottery game determine the predetermined game outcome value for the primary or secondary game.
  • [0076]
    In the various bingo embodiments, as each gaming device is enrolled in the bingo game, such as upon an appropriate wager or engaging an input device, the enrolled gaming device is provided or associated with a different bingo card. Each bingo card consists of a matrix or array of elements, wherein each element is designated with separate indicia, such as a number. It should be appreciated that each different bingo card includes a different combination of elements. For example, if four bingo cards are provided to four enrolled gaming devices, the same element may be present on all four of the bingo cards while another element may solely be present on one of the bingo cards.
  • [0077]
    In operation of these embodiments, upon providing or associating a different bingo card to each of a plurality of enrolled gaming devices, the central controller randomly selects or draws, one at a time, a plurality of the elements. As each element is selected, a determination is made for each gaming device as to whether the selected element is present on the bingo card provided to that enrolled gaming device. This determination can be made by the central controller, the gaming device, a combination of the two, or in any other suitable manner. If the selected element is present on the bingo card provided to that enrolled gaming device, that selected element on the provided bingo card is marked or flagged. This process of selecting elements and marking any selected elements on the provided bingo cards continues until one or more predetermined patterns are marked on one or more of the provided bingo cards. It should be appreciated that in one embodiment, the gaming device requires the player to engage a daub button (not shown) to initiate the process of the gaming device marking or flagging any selected elements.
  • [0078]
    After one or more predetermined patterns are marked on one or more of the provided bingo cards, a game outcome is determined for each of the enrolled gaming devices based, at least in part, on the selected elements on the provided bingo cards. As described above, the game outcome determined for each gaming device enrolled in the bingo game is utilized by that gaming device to determine the predetermined game outcome provided to the player. For example, a first gaming device to have selected elements marked in a predetermined pattern is provided a first outcome of win $10 which will be provided to a first player regardless of how the first player plays in a first game and a second gaming device to have selected elements marked in a different predetermined pattern is provided a second outcome of win $2 which will be provided to a second player regardless of how the second player plays a second game. It should be appreciated that as the process of marking selected elements continues until one or more predetermined patterns are marked, this embodiment ensures that at least one bingo card will win the bingo game and thus at least one enrolled gaming device will provide a predetermined winning game outcome to a player. It should be appreciated that other suitable methods for selecting or determining one or more predetermined game outcomes may be employed.
  • [0079]
    In one example of the above-described embodiment, the predetermined game outcome may be based on a supplemental award in addition to any award provided for winning the bingo game as described above. In this embodiment, if one or more elements are marked in supplemental patterns within a designated number of drawn elements, a supplemental or intermittent award or value associated with the marked supplemental pattern is provided to the player as part of the predetermined game outcome. For example, if the four corners of a bingo card are marked within the first twenty selected elements, a supplemental award of $10 is provided to the player as part of the predetermined game outcome. It should be appreciated that in this embodiment, the player of a gaming device may be provided a supplemental or intermittent award regardless of if the enrolled gaming device's provided bingo card wins or does not win the bingo game as described above.
  • [0080]
    In another embodiment, one or more of the gaming devices are in communication with a central server or controller for monitoring purposes only. That is, each individual gaming device randomly generates the game outcomes to be provided to the player and the central server or controller monitors the activities and events occurring on the plurality of gaming devices.
  • [0081]
    In one embodiment, the gaming network includes a real-time or on-line accounting and gaming information system operably coupled to the central server or controller. The accounting and gaming information system of this embodiment includes a player database for storing player profiles, a player tracking module for tracking players and a credit system for providing automated casino transactions.
  • [0082]
    In one embodiment, the gaming device disclosed herein is associated with or otherwise integrated with one or more player tracking systems. Player tracking systems enable gaming establishments to recognize the value of customer loyalty through identifying frequent customers and rewarding them for their patronage. In one embodiment, the gaming device and/or player tracking system tracks any players gaming activity at the gaming device. In one such embodiment, the gaming device includes at least one card reader 38 in communication with the processor. In this embodiment, a player is issued a player identification card which has an encoded player identification number that uniquely identifies the player. When a player inserts their playing tracking card into the card reader to begin a gaming session, the card reader reads the player identification number off the player tracking card to identify the player. The gaming device and/or associated player tracking system timely tracks any suitable information or data relating to the identified player's gaming session. Directly or via the central controller, the gaming device processor communicates such information to the player tracking system. The gaming device and/or associated player tracking system also timely tracks when a player removes their player tracking card when concluding play for that gaming session. In another embodiment, rather than requiring a player to insert a player tracking card, the gaming device utilizes one or more portable devices carried by a player, such as a cell phone, a radio frequency identification tag or any other suitable wireless device to track when a player begins and ends a gaming session. In another embodiment, the gaming device utilizes any suitable biometric technology or ticket technology to track when a player begins and ends a gaming session.
  • [0083]
    During one or more gaming sessions, the gaming device and/or player tracking system tracks any suitable information or data, such as any amounts wagered, average wager amounts and/or the time these wagers are placed. In different embodiments, for one or more players, the player tracking system includes the player's account number, the player's card number, the player's first name, the player's surname, the player's preferred name, the player's player tracking ranking, any promotion status associated with the player's player tracking card, the player's address, the player's birthday, the player's anniversary, the player's recent gaming sessions, or any other suitable data. In one embodiment, such tracked information and/or any suitable feature associated with the player tracking system is displayed on a player tracking display 40. In another embodiment, such tracked information and/or any suitable feature associated with the player tracking system is displayed via one or more service windows (not shown) which are displayed on the central display device and/or the upper display device.
  • [0084]
    In one embodiment, a plurality of gaming devices at one or more gaming sites may be networked to the central server in a progressive configuration, as known in the art, wherein a portion of each wager to initiate a base or primary game may be allocated to one or more progressive awards.
  • [0085]
    In one embodiment, a progressive gaming system host site computer is coupled to a plurality of the central servers at a variety of mutually remote gaming sites for providing a multi-site linked progressive automated gaming system. In one embodiment, a progressive gaming system host site computer may serve gaming devices distributed throughout a number of properties at different geographical locations including, for example, different locations within a city or different cities within a state.
  • [0086]
    In one embodiment, the progressive gaming system host site computer is maintained for the overall operation and control of the progressive gaming system. In this embodiment, a progressive gaming system host site computer oversees the entire progressive gaming system and is the master for computing all progressive jackpots. All participating gaming sites report to, and receive information from, the progressive gaming system host site computer. Each central server computer is responsible for all data communication between the gaming device hardware and software and the progressive gaming system host site computer. In one embodiment, an individual gaming machine may trigger a progressive award win. In another embodiment, a central server (or the progressive gaming system host site computer) determines when a progressive award win is triggered. In another embodiment, an individual gaming machine and a central controller (or progressive gaming system host site computer) work in conjunction with each other to determine when a progressive win is triggered, for example through an individual gaming machine meeting a predetermined requirement established by the central controller.
  • [0087]
    In one embodiment, a progressive award win is triggered based on one or more game play events, such as a symbol-driven trigger. In other embodiments, the progressive award triggering event or qualifying condition may be by exceeding a certain amount of game play (such as number of games, number of credits, or amount of time), or reaching a specified number of points earned during game play. In another embodiment, a gaming device is randomly or apparently randomly selected to provide a player of that gaming device one or more progressive awards. In one such embodiment, the gaming device does not provide any apparent reasons to the player for winning a progressive award, wherein winning the progressive award is not triggered by an event in or based specifically on any of the plays of any primary game. That is, a player is provided a progressive award without any explanation or alternatively with simple explanations. In another embodiment, a player is provided a progressive award at least partially based on a game triggered or symbol triggered event, such as at least partially based on the play of a primary game.
  • [0088]
    In one embodiment, one or more of the progressive awards are each funded via a side bet or side wager. In this embodiment, a player must place or wager a side bet to be eligible to win the progressive award associated with the side bet. In one embodiment, the player must place the maximum bet and the side bet to be eligible to win one of the progressive awards. In another embodiment, if the player places or wagers the required side bet, the player may wager at any credit amount during the primary game (i.e., the player need not place the maximum bet and the side bet to be eligible to win one of the progressive awards). In one such embodiment, the greater the player's wager (in addition to the placed side bet), the greater the odds or probability that the player will win one of the progressive awards. It should be appreciated that one or more of the progressive awards may each be funded, at least in part, based on the wagers placed on the primary games of the gaming machines in the gaming system, via a gaming establishment or via any suitable manner.
  • [0089]
    In another embodiment, one or more of the progressive awards are partially funded via a side-bet or side-wager which the player may make (and which may be tracked via a side-bet meter). In one embodiment, one or more of the progressive awards are funded with only side-bets or side-wagers placed. In another embodiment, one or more of the progressive awards are funded based on player's wagers as described above as well as any side-bets or side-wagers placed.
  • [0090]
    In one alternative embodiment, a minimum wager level is required for a gaming device to qualify to be selected to obtain one of the progressive awards. In one embodiment, this minimum wager level is the maximum wager level for the primary game in the gaming machine. In another embodiment, no minimum wager level is required for a gaming machine to qualify to be selected to obtain one of the progressive awards.
  • [0091]
    In another embodiment, a plurality of players at a plurality of linked gaming devices in a gaming system participate in a group gaming environment. In one embodiment, a plurality of players at a plurality of linked gaming devices work in conjunction with one another, such as playing together as a team or group, to win one or more awards. In one such embodiment, any award won by the group is shared, either equally or based on any suitable criteria, amongst the different players of the group. In another embodiment, a plurality of players at a plurality of linked gaming devices compete against one another for one or more awards. In one such embodiment, a plurality of players at a plurality of linked gaming devices participate in a gaming tournament for one or more awards. In another embodiment, a plurality of players at a plurality of linked gaming devices play for one or more awards wherein an outcome generated by one gaming device affects the outcomes generated by one or more linked gaming devices.
  • [0092]
    In one embodiment, a plurality of the gaming devices are capable of being connected together through a data network. In one embodiment, the data network is a local area network (LAN), in which one or more of the gaming devices are substantially proximate to each other and an on-site central server or controller as in, for example, a gaming establishment or a portion of a gaming establishment. In another embodiment, the data network is a wide area network (WAN) in which one or more of the gaming devices are in communication with at least one off-site central server or controller. In this embodiment, the plurality of gaming devices may be located in a different part of the gaming establishment or within a different gaming establishment than the off-site central server or controller. Thus, the WAN may include an off-site central server or controller and an off-site gaming device located within gaming establishments in the same geographic area, such as a city or state. The WAN gaming system may be substantially identical to the LAN gaming system described above, although the number of gaming devices in each system may vary relative to each other.
  • [0093]
    In another embodiment, the data network is an internet or intranet. In this embodiment, the operation of the gaming device can be viewed at the gaming device with at least one internet browser. In this embodiment, operation of the gaming device and accumulation of credits may be accomplished with only a connection to the central server or controller (the internet/intranet server) through a conventional phone or other data transmission line, digital subscriber line (DSL), T-1 line, coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, or other suitable connection. In this embodiment, players may access an internet game page from any location where an internet connection and computer, or other internet facilitator is available. The expansion in the number of computers and number and speed of internet connections in recent years increases opportunities for players to play from an ever-increasing number of remote sites. It should be appreciated that enhanced bandwidth of digital wireless communications may render such technology suitable for some or all communications, particularly if such communications are encrypted. Higher data transmission speeds may be useful for enhancing the sophistication and response of the display and interaction with the player.
  • [0094]
    As mentioned above, in one embodiment, the present disclosure may be employed in a server based gaming system. In one such embodiment, as described above, one or more gaming devices are in communication with a central server or controller. The central server or controller may be any suitable server or computing device that includes at least one processor and a memory or storage device. In alternative embodiments, the central server is a progressive controller or another gaming machine in the gaming system. In one embodiment, the memory device of the central server stores different game programs and instructions, executable by a gaming device processor, to control the gaming device. Each executable game program represents a different game or type of game that may be played on one or more of the gaming devices in the gaming system. Such different games may include the same or substantially the same game play with different pay tables. In different embodiments, the executable game program is for a primary game, a secondary game or both. In another embodiment, the game program may be executable as a secondary game to be played simultaneous with the play of a primary game (which may be downloaded to or fixed on the gaming device) or vice versa.
  • [0095]
    In this embodiment, each gaming device at least includes one or more display devices and/or one or more input devices for interaction with a player. A local processor, such as the above-described gaming device processor or a processor of a local server, is operable with the display device(s) and/or the input device(s) of one or more of the gaming devices.
  • [0096]
    In operation, the central controller is operable to communicate one or more of the stored game programs to at least one local processor. In different embodiments, the stored game programs are communicated or delivered by embedding the communicated game program in a device or a component (e.g., a microchip to be inserted in a gaming device), writing the game program on a disc or other media, downloading or streaming the game program over a dedicated data network, internet or a telephone line. After the stored game programs are communicated from the central server, the local processor executes the communicated program to facilitate play of the communicated program by a player through the display device(s) and/or input device(s) of the gaming device. That is, when a game program is communicated to a local processor, the local processor changes the game or type of game played at the gaming device.
  • Entitlement Offers
  • [0097]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method disclosed herein provide a promotion which enables players to earn entitlement offers for goods, services or awards at gaming machines at a reduced cost to the players and the casino. The promotion enables such players to qualify for one or more entitlement offers after a designated threshold or criteria is met or exceeded. Such entitlement offers give the players a right to purchase a good or service at a reduced or discount price. In one embodiment, the entitlement offer is independent from any game at the gaming machines (e.g., a primary game or a bonus game) or any paytable associated with the game. For example, after a credit meter of a gaming machine adjusts by a certain amount of credits or monetary units, the gaming system provides the player with an entitlement offer for a good or service. In another example, after the player wins an award of a certain amount of credits or monetary units, the gaming system provides the player with an entitlement offer for a good or service.
  • [0098]
    In one embodiment, the good or service offered to the player has an associated cost which is paid by a casino, gaming establishment, or a third party such as an advertiser or sponsor. In one such embodiment, the cost is less than the reduced or discount price of the good or service offered to the player. In this embodiment, the gaming system can offer goods or services at a reduced or discount price (relative to a retail price) while enabling the casino, gaming establishment or third party to sell the good or service for a profit. The casino or gaming establishment benefits by selling the goods or services above the casino's cost, while the players benefit by having the opportunity to purchase the goods or services below the retail value.
  • [0099]
    In one embodiment, each gaming machine in the gaming system is configured to provide the promotion (i.e., the opportunity to be provided with entitlement offers) to one or more players. For example, the promotion may be automatically engaged for each play of the games at the gaming machines. In one embodiment, each gaming machine is configured to enable players to request the opportunity to receive such entitlement offers. That is, the promotion for such entitlement offers may be requested by the player on-demand. If a player requests the promotion, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor would enable the gaming machine being played by the player to provide the opportunity for such entitlement offers in association with the player's current game. In another embodiment, the promotion is provided to all of the players or gaming machines in the gaming system. In another embodiment, only designated players (e.g., carded players) or gaming machines of a certain type or manufacturer can participate in the promotion. It should be appreciated that the promotion can be implemented and made available to players through a variety of mediums, including but not limited to, audio, visual or audiovisual outputs, a suitable display device, or any other appropriate messaging system.
  • [0100]
    Referring now to FIG. 3, a flowchart of an example process 100 for enabling a plurality of players to each participate in a promotion including offers for goods and services at a reduced price. In one embodiment, the process 100 is embodied in one or more software programs stored in one or more memories and executable by one or more processors, such as the controller of the gaming system. Although the process 100 is described with reference to the flowchart illustrated in FIG. 3, it should be appreciated that many other methods of performing the acts associated with process 100 may be used. For example, the order of many of the blocks may be changed, and many of the blocks described may be optional.
  • [0101]
    In one embodiment, the process 100 is embodied in computerized instructions executed by a controller or remote host. In such a “thin client” embodiment, the controller remotely controls any games (or other suitable interfaces) and the gaming device is utilized to display such games (or suitable interfaces) and receive one or more inputs or commands from a player. In another embodiment, the process 100 is embodied in computerized instructions that are communicated from the controller or remote host to a gaming device local processor and memory devices. In such a “thick client” embodiment, the gaming device local processor executes the communicated computerized instructions to control any games (or other suitable interfaces) provided to a player.
  • [0102]
    The process 100 enables a central server or controller and/or a gaming machine processor to cause one of the system gaming machines to display a game, as indicated by block 102. In one embodiment, the game is a primary game operable after a player at the gaming machine places a wager. In another embodiment, the game is a bonus game operable after a designated event occurs in association with the primary game.
  • [0103]
    In one embodiment, the gaming machine randomly generates game outcomes based on probability data, as indicated by block 104. In one embodiment, each game outcome is associated with a probability and the gaming device generates the game outcome to be provided to the player based on the associated probabilities.
  • [0104]
    The controller determines whether to generate an offer for the player, as indicated by decision diamond 106. In one embodiment, the determination is based on any changes or adjustments to the credit meter of the at least one gaming machine. The controller and the processor of each gaming device are configured to transmit and receive events, messages, commands or any other suitable data or signal between the individual gaming device and the controller relating to any adjustments or changes made to the credit meter. Based on data received from each gaming device, the controller differentiates changes or adjustments to the credit meter of any of the gaming devices resulting from an input of cash or money and changes or adjustments to the credit meter of any of the gaming devices resulting from other events, such as the player being provided an award. In one embodiment, if the adjustment or change resulted from, or was caused by, any event other than an input of cash or money, the controller determines whether the credit meter of any of the gaming devices changes or adjusts by a designated amount. For example, a player at one of the gaming devices wins an award of 100 credits. The player's credit meter (i.e., the credit meter associated with the gaming device at which the player is playing) increases by 100 credits. The gaming device communicates a suitable signal or data to the controller relating to adjustment (e.g., increase) to the player's credit meter based on the award of 100 credits. In one embodiment, if the player's credit meter adjusts (e.g., increases) by a designated amount (e.g., 100 credits or monetary units) without any additional input of cash or money, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor generate an offer.
  • [0105]
    In various embodiments, the controller determines whether the credit meter of any of the gaming devices changes or adjusts by a designated amount based on different factors. In one embodiment, the change or adjustment is based on a series of awards or wins which when accumulated increase the credit meter by a designated total amount (e.g., $100). In another embodiment, the change or adjustment is based on a combination of awards or wins which increase the credit meter by a designated amount (e.g., two $50 awards). In one embodiment, the change or adjustment is based on a series or combination of awards or wins which when accumulated which increase the credit meter by a designated total amount (e.g., $100) within a designated time period (e.g., one hour, one day or one month).
  • [0106]
    It should be appreciated that the controller and/or the gaming machine processor can determine whether to generate an offer based on a random factor, a predetermined factor, the player's history or status (as determined by a suitable player tracking system), time, or any other suitable factor. For example, the offer can be generated in association with the game or independent from the game depending on the embodiment. In another example, the offer is generated at a designated time, such as Tuesdays between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. In one other example, the offer is generated to designated players, such as players with a platinum player tracking status.
  • [0107]
    In one embodiment, the good or service offered or the discount price of the good or service offered is based on the amount of the award (e.g., an amount of credits) provided to the player and indicated on the player's credit meter. In other embodiments, the good or service offered or the discount price of the good or service offered is based on a predetermined amount of credits, a random amount of credits, an amount of credits based on the player's history, or an amount of credits based on any other suitable factor, such as time.
  • [0108]
    If the controller does not determine to generate an offer for the player, the play of the game ends, as indicated by block 108. If the controller determines to generate an offer to the player, the controller causes one of the gaming devices to generate the offer, as indicated by block 110. In one embodiment, the controller causes one of the gaming devices to generate a ticket including information or data associated with the offer. In another embodiment, the controller causes one of the gaming devices to display information or data associated with the offer. In such embodiments, the controller causes one of the gaming devices to generate or display the information or data associated with the offer automatically or after a designated event (e.g., a designated game outcome, or a player input). In one embodiment, the offer is printed at one of the gaming devices and provided to the player. In another embodiment, the offer is displayed to the player at one of the gaming devices and provided to the player's player tracking account.
  • [0109]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system and method disclosed herein limit the number of offers, or the amount of such offers generated or displayed to certain players. For example, in one embodiment, the gaming system limits each player to one offer for a designated time period (e.g., one hour, one day, or one month). In another embodiment, the gaming system and method disclosed herein generate or display an offer to a designated player at designated times. For example, if a designated player has not received an offer during a designated time period (e.g., one hour, one day, or one month), the gaming system and method disclosed herein are configured to generate or display an offer to the designated player.
  • [0110]
    Once the offer is generated and provided to the player (or otherwise displayed to the player), the player can redeem the offer in various ways. The way in which the player redeems the offer can depend on the offered good or service, as discussed in more detail below.
  • [0111]
    In various embodiments, the gaming system and method disclosed herein determines whether to generate or display an offer to one or more players of the gaming devices based on changes or adjustments to the credit meters at such gaming devices. In such embodiments, if the changes or adjustments in the credit meters result from designated events other than changes or adjustments from an input of cash or money, the gaming system and method disclosed herein generates or displays an offer to one or more players of the gaming devices. Such designated events are independent and separate from the games being played by the players and any paytable associated with the games.
  • [0112]
    In another embodiment, as seen in FIG. 4, the gaming system and method disclosed herein determines whether to generate or display an offer to one or more players of the gaming devices based on an award or other game outcome to be provided to the player. As seen in FIG. 4, once the gaming device generates the award or other game outcome to be provided to the player, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor determines whether the generated outcome is associated with an award, as indicated by decision diamond 112. If the determination is that the generated outcome is not associated with an award, the play of the game ends, as indicated by block 114. If the determination is that the generated outcome is associated with an award, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor causes the gaming machine to provide the associated award to the player, as indicated by block 116. In one embodiment, after the player wins (or is provided an award of) a certain amount of credits, the award is credited to a credit meter of the gaming machine.
  • [0113]
    In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor determines whether the award provided to the player meets or exceeds a designated threshold, as indicated by decision diamond 118. If the determination is that the award provided to the player does not meet or exceed the designated threshold, the play of the game ends, as indicated by block 114. In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor enables the player to participate in another play of the game, or to cash out. If the determination is that the award provided to the player does meet or exceed the designated threshold, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor cause the gaming machine to display or generate an offer for a good or service to the player, as indicated by block 120.
  • [0114]
    In one embodiment, the designated threshold is based on a series of awards or wins which when accumulated are worth a designated total amount (e.g., $100). In another embodiment, the designated threshold is based on a combination of awards or wins of a designated amount (e.g., two $50 awards). In one embodiment, the designated threshold is based on a series or combination of awards or wins which when accumulated are worth a designated total amount (e.g., $100) within a designated time period (e.g., one hour, one day or one month).
  • [0115]
    In one embodiment, the offer includes a good or service for purchase by the player at a discount price. The player accepts the offer by providing a payment for the discount price. In one embodiment, the payment is independent from any credits associated with the credit meter. For example, the player pays the discount or reduced price for the offered good or service from a payment source (e.g., cash, credit or debit card, player tracking points, a casino account associated with the player, such as a hotel room account) separate from the credit meter.
  • [0116]
    In one embodiment, the value of the good or service offered to the player is based on the value of the award provided to the player. In one such embodiment, different prizes are associated with a plurality of different thresholds based on the award value (e.g., the amount of credits won). For example, a separate threshold is established for awards of $50, $60, $70, $80, $90 and $100. A plurality of different entitlement offers are associated with each of the award thresholds. An example of such award thresholds and offers is shown in the following table:
  • [0000]
    Award
    Threshold Ancillary Prize Offered Retail Value of Prize
    $50.00 Standard Hotel Room $80
    $60.00 Dinner for Two $100
    $70.00 Show Tickets for Two $120
    $80.00 Deluxe Hotel Room $140
    $90.00 Necklace and Earrings $160
    $100.00 Suite Hotel Room $180
  • [0117]
    With reference to the above table, if a player registers a win of $74, the central controller and/or the gaming machine processor offers that player an opportunity to purchase two show tickets having a retail value of $60 each for $70. If the player accepts the offer, the player is charged $70 for two show tickets worth $120 total (e.g., $60 each). In this embodiment, the player pays a discounted price for the prize that is equal to or less than the provided award. By providing a less costly good or service (e.g., a non-monetary good or service) in exchange for the player's payment of the discounted price, the casino or gaming establishment can recover a portion of the cost of the provided award.
  • [0118]
    In one embodiment, the offer entitles the player to obtain any prize at or below the award threshold. With continued reference to the above table, the player could accept an offer for the standard hotel room or dinner for two. In another embodiment, the offer entitles the player to obtain any prize at or above the award threshold. For example, with continued reference to the above table, the player could accept an offer for the deluxe hotel room since their win was between the $70 and $80 award thresholds. In one embodiment, the offer is based on the player's status or history (as determined by a suitable player tracking system). For example, a platinum player who is provided a $74 award may purchase the deluxe hotel room for $80, the show tickets for $70, the dinner for $60, or the standard hotel room for $50 while a gold player may be limited to purchasing the show tickets for $70, the dinner for $60, or the standard hotel room for $50.
  • [0119]
    In another embodiment, the prizes are associated with a plurality of different ranges based on the award value (e.g., the amount of credits won). For example, a separate range of award values is established for each of the offered prizes. In one embodiment, the range associated with the offer is based on the retail value of the offered prize. An example of such ranges is shown in the following table:
  • [0000]
    Award Range Ancillary Prize Offered Retail Value of Prize
    $40.00-$60.00 Standard Hotel Room $80
    $60.01-$80.00 Dinner for Two $100
     $80.01-$100.00 Show Tickets for Two $120
    $100.01-$120.00 Deluxe Hotel Room $140
    $120.01-$140.00 Necklace and Earrings $160
    $140.01-$160.00 Suite Hotel Room $180
  • [0120]
    With reference to the above table, if a player wins an award of $85, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor determines that the player has qualified to receive an offer for two $60 show tickets. The central controller and/or the gaming machine processor offers the player an opportunity to purchase the two show tickets having a retail value of $60 each (e.g., $120 total) for a discount price, such as $80. If the player accepts the offer, the player is charged the discount price for the show tickets without using the $85 award as payment for the tickets. That is, the player pays for the show tickets using another payment source. In this embodiment, the discounted price for the offered prize is equal to or less than the provided award. In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor enables the player to select any one of the offers at or below the range for which the player qualified. For example, if the player wins an award of $85, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor displays a plurality of offers (e.g., a first offer for a standard hotel room, a second offer for dinner and a third offer for two show tickets) to the player.
  • [0121]
    It should be appreciated that the offers can be determined in accordance with any suitable rules and are customizable as desired by the gaming system operator. For example, the award thresholds or award ranges discussed with reference to the above tables can be set to any suitable value or range as desired by the gaming system operator. In one embodiment, the offer is provided separate from a paytable associated with the game and any probabilities associated with the paytable. In this embodiment, the acceptance or rejection of any offer does not affect the paytable associated with the game or the probability of the player obtaining certain awards. In one embodiment, the entitlement offers extended to the player are targeted based on the player's history or status (obtained from a suitable player tracking system). Any combination, types or values of offered prizes, award thresholds, and retail values may be implemented as desired by the gaming system operator. In different embodiments, the award thresholds and/or the offers can be predetermined, determined randomly, determined by the player's status (in association with a suitable player tracking system) or determined in any other suitable manner desired by the gaming system operator.
  • [0122]
    In one embodiment, the offer includes a plurality of promotional credits, such as player tracking points, for a price. In one such embodiment, the price is based on the award provided to the player. For example, the player is provided with an award of $100, which meets or exceeds a designated award threshold. In this example, the controller and/or gaming machine processor causes the gaming machine to display an offer for a plurality of promotional credits. In one embodiment, the price for such promotion credits is equal to or less than the amount of the award provided to the player. In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor execute a suitable algorithm to determine the number of player tracking points offered to the player. Offering player tracking points to the player in exchange for a payment enables the casino or gaming establishment to recoup the amount of the award (or a portion thereof) provided to the player at a lower cost to the casino.
  • [0123]
    In one embodiment, the offer includes a plurality of extra game credits. For example, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor offers the player 100 extra game credits for the price of 50 game credits. In one embodiment, the offer is provided at designated times, such as when the player is attempting to cash out. For example, a player has 1000 credits on the credit meter of one of the gaming machines. If the player pushes the cash out button, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor offers the player 200 extra game credits for the price of 100 game credits. In one embodiment, to prevent the player from immediately cashing out again, at least a portion of the extra game credits are provided to the player as game play credits or non-cashable credits. That is, the game play credits must be used to play the game and cannot be cashed out by the player. In the above example, after accepting the offer for 200 extra game credits, some or all of the 200 extra game credits are provided to the player in the form of game play credits. In one embodiment, the amount of cashable or non-cashable credits provided to the player in one or more offers is determined by the gaming system operator.
  • [0124]
    In one embodiment, the offer includes one or more guaranteed plays of the game. In this embodiment, the offer includes a guaranteed number of games regardless of the outcome of those games. For example, if a player wins an award of $100, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor offers the player 150 games (worth $1 each) for a discounted price of $100. In this example, the player is able to play 150 games (at a $1 game) regardless of the outcomes of those games. If the player obtains losing outcomes on the first 100 games, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor enables the player to play 50 more games.
  • [0125]
    As seen in FIG. 5, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor cause an entitlement offer to be provided or displayed to a player. The entitlement offer enables the player to purchase a good or service at a discount price, as indicated by block 122. In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor causes a display of one or more entitlement offers via one or more service windows, which are displayed on the central display device and/or the upper display device of the gaming machine.
  • [0126]
    The controller and/or the gaming machine processor enables the player to accept or reject the offer, as indicated by block 124, and determines whether the player accepted the offer, as indicated in decision diamond 126. If the determination is that the player rejected the offer (i.e., did not accept the offer), the play of the game ends, as indicated by block 128. In this instance, the player can choose to participate in another play of the game, or cash out.
  • [0127]
    If the determination is that the player accepted the offer, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor facilitates payment of the discount price for the good or service, as indicated by block 130. In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor facilitates the payment independent of any game currency or credits accumulated or accounted for in the credit meter of the gaming machine. That is, the player is not allowed to use a provided award to pay for the offer. In one embodiment, the player is allowed to use the provided award (or part of the award) to pay for the offer.
  • [0128]
    In different embodiments, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor facilitates the payment by charging the player. In such embodiments, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor enables the player to utilize any one or more of the following payment methods to effect payment: (a) the player's credit account with the casino, (b) the player's credit card on file, (c) the player's hotel room account, (d) the player's player tracking points, (e) by making a payment at a point of sale, (f) by making a payment at a redemption location, such as a kiosk or concierge desk, (g) input of a credit card, debit card, or other card at the gaming machine, or (h) any other suitable method desired by the gaming system operator.
  • [0129]
    In one embodiment, the controller and/or the gaming machine processor causes a prompt to be displayed at the gaming machine. The prompt includes instructions which inform the player what payment information is needed to complete the transaction or offer. In one embodiment, the prompt instructs the player to make the payment with funds independent from any game currency or credits. For example, the player can complete with the transaction for the offered good or service on the player's own accord (i.e. pay with additional cash, a credit card, or a debit card). In another embodiment, the prompt includes an option for the player to use an alternate currency to pay for the offered good or service, such as player tracking points or any other suitable form of payment.
  • [0130]
    In one embodiment, the controller and/or gaming machine processor causes the gaming machine to provide the good or service offered to the player. For example, the gaming device can provide the player with extra game play credits, non-cashable credits, or guaranteed games. In another embodiment, the controller and/or gaming machine processor causes the gaming machine to provide instructions to the player on how to obtain the goods or services associated with the offer. In one such embodiment, the information instructs the player how to complete the transaction via a kiosk, a website, or other suitable redemption device. In another such embodiment, the information instructs the player how to complete the transaction with a service attendant.
  • [0131]
    In one embodiment, the controller and/or gaming machine processor causes the gaming machine to provide a voucher, coupon or ticket redeemable at a later time if the player chooses to accept the offer (or after payment has been made). The voucher, coupon or ticket is redeemable in a number of different ways. The way in which the player redeems the voucher, coupon or ticket can depend on the offered good or service. For example, a hotel room voucher is redeemable at a hotel reservations desk in the casino, and a necklace and earrings voucher is redeemable at a point of sale or retail location of the merchant. In different embodiments, a player can redeem the vouchers, coupons or tickets at a kiosk, a property agent, a concierge, a clerk at point of sale, a valet, a customer service desk, a website, or any other redemption location desired by the gaming system operator. In one embodiment, the vouchers, coupons or tickets expire after a designated amount of time, such as 90 days or 1 year.
  • [0132]
    In one embodiment, if the player accepts the offer, the gaming system enables the player to print a prize voucher, coupon or ticket directly at the gaming machine. In this embodiment, the prize voucher, coupon or ticket is redeemable at a point-of-sale or retail location associated with the casino or a third party. The player redeems the prize voucher, coupon or ticket for the good or service offered by the casino. In one embodiment, an additional payment is required along with the prize voucher, coupon or ticket for the good or service.
  • [0133]
    In one embodiment, the gaming system provides a verification method to ensure that the vouchers, coupons or tickets are valid. In one embodiment, the casino and the point-of-sale or retail location are linked through a data network. In this embodiment, the player's voucher is verifiable by the point-of-sale or retail location through communication with the issuing casino or other verifying entity. For example, the point-of-sale or retail location requests verification of a player's redemption request from the casino. In one embodiment, the casino requests and receives verification from the gaming system. Once the player's redemption request is verified by the gaming system and/or the casino, the casino sends verification to the point-of-sale or retail location. If the player's redemption request is verified, the point-of-sale or retail location provides the good or service to the player in exchange for the voucher, coupon or ticket.
  • [0134]
    In one embodiment, the point-of-sale or retail location includes a scanner or kiosk configured to scan and read the voucher to determine who the voucher was issued to, when the voucher was issued and a value of the voucher. In one embodiment, once the voucher is verified, the point-of-sale or retail location confirms the name and/or address of the patron through the patron's personal identification card or driver's license. If the patron is entitled to the voucher, the point-of-sale or retail location provides the good or service to the patron. Such verification methods help protect the players, casinos, and retailers from counterfeit or forged vouchers, coupons or tickets.
  • [0135]
    As seen in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the gaming system and method disclosed herein enables a casino or gaming establishment operator to generate, display or provide an entitlement offer to a player. In one embodiment, the entitlement offer includes a non-monetary good or service. In certain instances, the casino or gaming establishment can obtain goods or services at little or no offer cost. For example, the casino can offer tickets to a show (that is not sold out, thus no revenue is lost by the player attending) or a product donated by a third party advertiser or sponsor (who receives advertising benefits from such offers by showcasing or exposing products to the player). In another example, the casino can offer a hotel room or suite when vacancies exist. The casino offers these goods or services to the player for a discount price. In one embodiment, the discount price is greater than the casino's cost, which enables the casino to benefit if the player accepts the offer. For accepted offers, the casino or gaming establishment benefits by selling the show tickets above the offer cost, and the player benefits by purchasing the show tickets below the retail value.
  • [0136]
    Referring now to the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D, a display device 16 or 18 includes a dedicated space or game interface 200 that displays a primary and/or bonus game. The game interface 200 includes a plurality of the reels 54 and is associated with the bet display 20, the credit display 22, the cash out button 34, an information button 204, an award display 206, and a denomination display 208. The display device 16 or 18 of the gaming device also includes a dedicated space or player interface 202 that displays offers and/or information relating to the offers (e.g., award thresholds and/or retail values for goods or services).
  • [0137]
    In one embodiment, the player interface 202 operates as an externally controlled interface on the gaming machine. In one such embodiment, the gaming machine is operable to establish a communication link with a host device that enables content provided by the host device to be output on the gaming machine. To output the content provided by the remote host, a host-controlled process that is authenticated by the gaming machine and executed in a secure memory location such that it is isolated from other processes executing on the gaming machine may be utilized. The host-controlled processes may be decoupled from the process used to execute the game of chance played on the gaming machine such that the content output by the host-controlled process does not alter the game of chance displayed in association with the game interface 200. Since the player interface 202 operates as an externally controlled interface, regulatory concerns associated with altering the game are avoided.
  • [0138]
    Referring now to FIGS. 6B and 6C, the player interface 202 is operable to display one or more offers 210 or 212 for goods or services and payment options 214, 216 or 218 so as not to detract from the player's game experience displayed by the game interface 200. That is, the offers 210 and 212 and the payment options 214, 216 and 218 are displayed in the dedicated space 202 independent of the gaming area or interface 200. This benefits both the player and the casino by drawing the player's attention more effectively than messaging in the gaming area (although such messaging could be used).
  • [0139]
    As seen in FIG. 6B, the player wagered 5 credits (at $1 each) on the play of the game and was provided an award of 175 credits (at $1 each). For this play of the game, the player won $175 as indicated by the award meter 206. In this embodiment, the player has reached an award threshold and the player interface 202 displays information about an offer, such as offers 210 and 212. The player interface 202 displays the good or service being offered, the discount price of the good or service offered to the player, the retail value of the good or service offered to the player, or any other suitable information about each offer. By displaying the offers 210 and 212 in association with the player interface 202, the offers can be provided to the player so as to be minimally invasive to the player's game play displayed by the game interface 200.
  • [0140]
    In one embodiment, the player interface 202 enables the player to request information about a designated offer by pressing the information button 204. In one such embodiment, the player selects the information button 204 to see the necklace at a retailer's web page or to access additional details about an offered good or service, such as show times or hotel suite amenities.
  • [0141]
    As seen in FIG. 6B, the player interface 202 displays offers 210 and 212. Offer 210 displays “PURCHASE A $350 HOTEL SUITE FOR $175?” or any other suitable display, such as “DO YOU WANT TO PURCHASE A $350 HOTEL SUITE FOR $175?”. Offer 212 displays “PURCHASE A $300 NECKLACE FOR $100?” or any other suitable display, such as “DO YOU WANT TO PURCHASE A $300 NECKLACE FOR $100?”. It should be appreciated that any suitable manner of displaying and providing offers for any suitable good or service may be implemented in accordance with the gaming system disclosed herein. For example, in one embodiment, the gaming system causes the offers to be displayed on the gaming machine or at an external signage location that is synchronized and directed to the player.
  • [0142]
    The offer 210 is for a hotel suite having a retail price of $350. The player interface 202 displays the offer 210, which if accepted, entitles the player to purchase one night in the hotel suite for a discounted price of $175. The offer 212 is for a necklace having a retail price of $300. The player interface 202 displays the offer 212, which if accepted, entitles the player to purchase the necklace for a discounted price of $100. In one embodiment, the game interface 200 and the player interface 202 are operable to display a winning event on the video reels 54 at or substantially at a same time as the offers 210 and 212 are displayed by the player interface 202.
  • [0143]
    In one embodiment, the offers 210 and 212 are based on the amount of the award won by the player. Since the player won $175, offers 210 and 212 include goods or services which (i) have a retail value higher than $175 and (ii) have a discounted price equal to or less than $175. Providing multiple offers 210 and 212 increases the chance that the player will find one of the goods or services valuable or worth purchasing.
  • [0144]
    The player may choose to accept or decline the offer through the player interface 202. In one embodiment, the player interface 202 displays an accept button and a reject or decline button. In one embodiment, the player selects a desired offer and makes a payment associated with the desired offer through the player interface 202 to accept the desired offer. Once one of the offers 210 and 212 is selected, the player interface 202 displays one or more payment options 214, 216, and 218 for the player to complete the transaction.
  • [0145]
    As seen in FIG. 6C, the player interface 202 displays one or more payment options 214, 216, and 218 for the player to complete the transaction. Payment option 214 enables the player to make a payment with a credit or debit card. Payment option 216 enables the player to make a payment from a player account with player tracking points. Payment option 218 enables the player to charge the payment to the player's casino account or hotel account. Each payment option 214, 216, and 218 does not affect the credit meter 22 or the award meter 206. That is, the player is not allowed to use gaming credits or any provided award to pay for the offer.
  • [0146]
    It should be appreciated that any suitable manner of effecting payment for the offered goods and services may be implemented in accordance with the gaming system disclosed herein. The player interface 202 is configured to provide such suitable payment options to the player. For example, in one embodiment, the gaming system causes the offers to be displayed on the gaming machine or at an external signage location that is synchronized and directed to the player.
  • [0147]
    As seen in FIG. 6D, the player has completed the transaction for the hotel suite using the player's credit card. Once the player has completed the transaction (i.e., effected payment via option 214), the player interface 202 displays “CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE PURCHASED A HOTEL SUITE WORTH $350 FOR $175! YOUR CREDIT CARD HAS BEEN CHARGED FOR THIS TRANSACTION.” or another suitable display.
  • [0148]
    Depending on the offered good or service, and the redemption method for such offered good or service, the player interface 202 can display instructions or information for the player to obtain the good or service. For example, if the player accepts an offer for a necklace, the player interface 202 may display the name, location and other suitable information for the retailer of the necklace.
  • [0149]
    In one embodiment, such as the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7, the offer is printed onto a ticket, coupon or voucher 300. The ticket 300 includes any suitable information, such as an issuing casino identification 302, a player identification 304, a game identification 306, a ticket number 308, a validation number 310, and/or a date or a time 312. As seen in FIG. 7, the ticket 300 includes an offer area 314 where the offer, such as offer 210 or 212 (FIG. 6B) is printed. The offer area 314 displays a printed offer, such as “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE ENTITLED TO PURCHASE A HOTEL SUITE WORTH $350 AT ABC CASINO FOR $175. PLEASE VISIT THE HOTEL FRONT DESK FOR REDEMPTION.” In one embodiment, the offer identifies a good or service, a retailer or provider of the good or service, a discount associated with the good or service, and a location at which the player can redeem the offer.
  • [0150]
    It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present subject matter and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/25, 463/40
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3248, G07F17/32, G07F17/3244
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32K4, G07F17/32K
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Feb 1, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: IGT, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:DEWAAL, DANIEL J.;BAERLOCHER, ANTHONY J.;REEL/FRAME:020457/0143;SIGNING DATES FROM 20071119 TO 20071130