REFERENCE TO A PRIOR APPLICATION
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/049,551, filed May 1, 2008.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the field of gaming.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The deployment of portable, hand-held, electronic gaming devices is of interest to casinos and other establishments such as airports, ski resorts and cruise ships. Authorities such as the Nevada Gaming Commission have created rules governing such devices, to, inter alia, protect the public interest in responsible gaming. A component of, for example, the Nevada rules, is a form of biometric reader, such as a fingerprint reader (i.e. thumb scanner) which must be activated by users from time to time. This has lead toward the development of all-in-one portable wireless devices which incorporate gaming software and hardware and a biometric reader.
A system for use with a portable wireless communicator/biometric reader and a portable wireless transceiver forms one aspect of the invention. The system comprises one or more enabling receivers and a facility. The one or more enabling receivers are for receiving wireless signals from said reader. The facility is for communicating with said transceiver to permit said transceiver to serve as a mobile platform for computer gaming when (i) said reader is in communication with at least one of said one or more enabling receivers and (ii) a user, to which said reader is assigned, is operating said reader in accordance with a protocol.
According to another aspect of the invention, the portable wireless communicator/biometric reader can be a portable wireless communicator/fingerprint reader.
According to another aspect of the invention, the portable wireless transceiver can be a wireless phone.
According to another aspect of the invention, in use: (i) the user can be prompted at random intervals through the transceiver; and (ii) the protocol can demand that the reader be actuated by the user to which it is assigned within a predetermined period following each prompt.
According to another aspect of the invention, the wireless phone can be Bluetooth-enabled, the system can further comprise one or more Bluetooth receivers for wireless communication with said transceiver and the facility can permit said transceiver to service as said mobile platform for computer gaming when said transceiver is communicating via Bluetooth, in accordance with a predetermined parameter, with at least one of said one or more Bluetooth receivers.
According to another aspect of the invention, the one or more enabling receivers can comprise a plurality of enabling receivers, spaced-apart from one another, to define one or more areas within said casino within which gaming can be conducted.
According to another aspect of the invention, the one or more Bluetooth receivers can comprise a plurality of Bluetooth receivers, spaced-apart from one another to provide Bluetooth coverage throughout said one or more areas within which gaming can be conducted.
According to another aspect of the invention, the facility can be adapted such that gaming functionality of the transceiver is disabled following the issuance of a prompt, and is automatically enabled if the enabling receiving apparatus detects a response from the reader within a predetermined period following the prompt.
According to another aspect of the invention, the predetermined parameter can require communication between the one or more Bluetooth receivers and the transceiver at a defined interval.
According to another aspect of the invention, the facility can comprise a computer server.
The system permits a conventional Internet-ready cellphone or similar device to be utilized as a mobile platform for responsible gaming.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the structure, and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, the latter being briefly described hereinafter.
FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of a system according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
With general reference to FIG. 1, an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a system, designated with general reference numeral 20, is shown schematically in use in a casino 22 (shown in schematic view and to occupy a city block) and will be seen to include a facility 24, a plurality of enabling receivers 26, a first plurality of Bluetooth receivers 28 and a second plurality of Bluetooth receivers 30.
The enabling receivers 26 collectively defines a green zone 32 in the casino, shown in dotted outline, within which mobile gaming can be conducted. The first plurality of Bluetooth receivers 28 collectively provide Bluetooth coverage throughout the green zone 32. The second plurality of Bluetooth receivers 30 collectively provide Bluetooth coverage throughout a red zone 34 (shown as three separate red zones 34, each indicated in dotted outline and associated respectively with a day care 52, a nursing station 50 and a security office 54) within the casino 22 in which mobile gaming cannot be conducted.
The facility 24 comprises an in-house casino server 36 which is part of a local network including the enabling receivers 26 and the first 28 and second 30 Bluetooth receivers. The facility also includes a backend server 38 securely connected to the in-house casino server 36.
The backend server 38 hosts a publicly accessible website wherefrom users of Bluetooth-enabled portable wireless transceivers 40 can download gaming software applicable to said casino 22, and with which users which have installed said software can interactively game.
For simplicity in this description, portable wireless transceivers are hereinafter simply referred to as “phones”, but it should be understood that references to a phone or phones herein expressly includes other devices such as Personal Digital Assistants and email readers of the type sold by Research in Motion Inc. under the trademark Blackberry®.
The software, once installed, permits the phone to serve, from anywhere which has connectivity, as a mobile platform for computer gaming, on a dummy funds account.
Any visitor to the casino 22 who wishes to gamble against the casino using his or her phone may do so through a registration process wherein a phone upon which the software has been installed is presented to a member of casino staff, along with identification and proof of age. The casino staff sets up a gaming account, to which the phone 40 is assigned (having been identified via Bluetooth technology).
As a further part of the registration process, use of a portable wireless communicator/biometric reader 42, specifically, a fingerprint reader (thumb scanner), is also given (and assigned) to the visitor, who actuates the reader to scan the user biometrically; the biometric scan is stored on the wireless device 42. The reader 42 is of a type adapted for communicating with the enabling receivers 26.
Once registration has been completed, a casino gambling account is created, into which funds can be loaded via Internet banking or through mechanisms available within the casino, such as cashiers or the like.
When a registered user wishes to gamble, he or she may activate the game software and access the gambling account via password.
When the gambling account is open: (i) the server 36 will send messages to phone 40 to prompt the user at random intervals; (ii) the enabling receivers 26 will scan the green zone 34 for a response from the reader 42 following the prompt; (iii) the first Bluetooth receivers 28 will scan the green zone 22 for the phone 40 at predefined intervals; and (iv) the second Bluetooth receivers 30 will scan the red zone(s) 34 for the phone 40 at predefined intervals.
Following the issuance of a prompt, the gaming account will be automatically locked and will be automatically unlocked if the registered user responds to the prompt according to a defined protocol, i.e. the user actuates the reader 42 while within the green zone 32 such that at least one of the enabling receivers 26 receives a response from the reader 42 within a predetermined period set by the casino, for example, 30 seconds.
The gaming account will also be locked if: (i) none of the first Bluetooth receivers 28 detect the presence of the phone 40 during its scan; or (ii) at least one of the second Bluetooth receivers 30 detects the presence of the phone 40 during its scan.
It will be evident that this arrangement promotes responsible gaming; although it is possible that gaming may be conducted via the phone by a person other than the user which registered the phone and to which the reader is assigned, the need for timely response following each prompt necessitates at least close proximity of the phone and reader, i.e. de facto supervision of the phone by the operator of the reader.
[Whereas Bluetooth receivers are specified above, since this aspect of the exemplary embodiment relies on the system receiving information from the phone, persons of ordinary skill will recognize that Bluetooth transceivers will normally be deployed, permitting two-way secure communication between the phone 40 and the system. This description and the accompanying claims should be construed accordingly.]
It will be evident to persons of ordinary skill in the art that the system has numerous attractive features. Firstly, it permits each user to become familiar with the gaming system, on his or her own phone, outside a casino environment, and even at home, in contradistinction to the situation that would exist if casinos were to require the user to gamble remotely using a dedicated system that first-time visitors to the casino might never have previously encountered. As well, it entails relatively low hardware costs to the casino, since each user brings his or her own gaming device (phone). Further, since all identifying information remains resident with the server (the only information transmitted between the wireless reader and the enabling receiver apparatus is an arbitrary numeric ID assigned to the user during the registration process), the system can be constructed to be highly secure. (There will be no connection, external of the server, between the fingerprint and actual identity of the user.)
While but a single exemplary embodiment of the present invention has been herein shown and described, it will be understood that various changes may be made. For example, the second Bluetooth receivers/transceivers could be omitted, if the physical layout of the gaming area did not necessitate the creation of a red zone, and where legislation does not demand it, the Bluetooth receivers/transceivers could be omitted altogether.
As well, a mechanism somewhat similar to the functionality provided by the Bluetooth receivers/transceivers could be created through the use of a disabling receiver array, which locked the account if the reader exited the green zone.
Further, whereas gambling is expressly indicated herein and is of interest to casino and the like, the system could be useful for other gaming or general entertainment applications where restricted, supervised or controlled access is of interest, for example, pay-per-view entertainment or pay-to-play games.
Additionally, whereas a thumb scanner is described, other devices could be employed as available, for example, a retina scanner.
Accordingly, the invention should be understood as limited only by the claims appended hereto, purposively construed.