Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20090286585 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/295,023
PCT numberPCT/US2008/054728
Publication dateNov 19, 2009
Filing dateFeb 22, 2008
Priority dateFeb 22, 2007
Also published asUS20120295691, WO2008103910A1
Publication number12295023, 295023, PCT/2008/54728, PCT/US/2008/054728, PCT/US/2008/54728, PCT/US/8/054728, PCT/US/8/54728, PCT/US2008/054728, PCT/US2008/54728, PCT/US2008054728, PCT/US200854728, PCT/US8/054728, PCT/US8/54728, PCT/US8054728, PCT/US854728, US 2009/0286585 A1, US 2009/286585 A1, US 20090286585 A1, US 20090286585A1, US 2009286585 A1, US 2009286585A1, US-A1-20090286585, US-A1-2009286585, US2009/0286585A1, US2009/286585A1, US20090286585 A1, US20090286585A1, US2009286585 A1, US2009286585A1
InventorsJay S. Walker
Original AssigneeWalker Jay S
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Methods and apparatus for facilitating flat rate play sessions
US 20090286585 A1
Abstract
In accordance with one embodiment, a video roulette flat rate play session is facilitated. The flat rate play session may be associated with at least one of a wagering restriction applied to one or more bets during the flat rate play session and a net maximum payout per spin applicable to one or more bets during the flat rate play session. In one embodiment, a player is provided with a plurality of wagering units at the beginning of the session. A monetary value of the plurality of wagering units may be greater than a monetary value of a flat rate price paid for the flat rate play session.
Images(34)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. An apparatus for facilitating a wagering game, comprising:
a processor operable to facilitate a wagering game;
a memory storing a program, the memory operable to communicate with the processor;
a display for outputting representations of a video roulette wagering game;
the processor operable with the memory to:
determine a player has purchased and is participating in a flat rate play session of the video roulette game, the flat rate play session being defined by a restriction and a maximum net payout per spin:
recognize a bet requested by the player;
perform a spin of the video roulette game;
determine a result of the spin;
determine whether the bet is a winner;
determine, if the bet is a winner, an initial payout to the player for the spin;
determine whether the initial payout is greater than the maximum net payout; and
provide the initial payout to the player if the initial payout is not greater than the maximum net payout, otherwise providing the maximum net payout to the player in place of the initial payout.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the processor is further operable with the program to:
determine whether the bet is compatible with the restriction;
reject the bet if the bet is not compatible with the restriction.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the processor if further operable with the program to:
determine a number of spins comprising the flat rate play session; and
display via the display the number of spins comprising the flat rate play session.
4. The apparatus of claim 3, further comprising:
upon an occurrence of each spin in the session, decrementing by one the number of spins remaining.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the processor is further operable with the program to:
receive a payment for the flat rate play session, the payment comprising a flat rate price that is less than the sum of the wager available for placement during the session.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the processor is further operable with the program to:
provide, at a beginning of the flat rate play session, a plurality of wagering units to the player for wagering during the flat rate play session, wherein a monetary value of the wagering units provided is greater than a monetary value of a price paid for the flat rate play session.
7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the wagering units provided are non-cashable.
8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the processor being operable with the program to provide a plurality of wagering units to the player comprises the processor being operable with the program to:
provide a first number of a first category of wagering units to the player, wherein the first category of wagering units corresponds to a first wagering restriction imposed upon the player during the session; and
providing a second number of a first category of wagering units to the player, wherein the second category of wagering units corresponds to a second wagering restriction imposed upon the player during the session.
9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the processor if further operable with the program to, upon recognizing a bet requested by the player:
determine whether a wagering unit being used for the bet is of the first category or of the second category;
determine the wagering restriction associated with the category of the wagering unit being used for the bet;
determine whether the bet requested by the player is consistent with the restriction; and
reject the bet if the bet is not consistent with the restriction.
10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the processor is further operable with the program to:
recognize a request for cashout by the player;
determine monetary value due to the player as a result of the session; and
output the monetary value to the player in a cashable form.
11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the processor being operable with the program to determine a monetary value due to the player comprises the processor being operable with the program to:
determine a starting balance of wagering units provided to the player at a beginning of the flat rate play session;
determine a current balance of wagering units; and
dispense any value of the current balance above the starting balance.
12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the processor if further operable with the program to:
determine, upon a completion of a spin of the session, whether the player qualifies for a jackpot payout based upon a result of the spin and a result of at least one previous spin.
13. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the flat rate play session is defined by both a maximum net payout per spin and a maximum net payout for outside bets per spin.
14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the processor is further operable with the program to:
determine whether the bet is an outside bet; and
if the bet is an outside bet, determine whether the initial payout is greater than the maximum net payout for outside bets.
15. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein providing the initial payout to the player and providing the maximum net payout to the player both include returning a wager placed on the bet to the player.
16. An apparatus for facilitating a video roulette wagering game, comprising:
a processor operable to facilitate a wagering game;
a memory storing a program, the memory operable to communicate with the processor;
a display for outputting representations of a video roulette wagering game;
the processor operable with the memory to:
determine a player has purchased and is participating in a flat rate play session of the video roulette game, the flat rate play session being defined by a wagering restriction:
recognize a bet requested by the player;
determine whether the bet is compatible with the wagering restriction; and
reject the bet if the bet is not compatible with the wagering restriction.
17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the processor if further operable with the program to:
determine a number of spins comprising the flat rate play session; and
display via the display the number of spins comprising the flat rate play session.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, further comprising:
upon an occurrence of each spin in the session, decrementing by one the number of spins remaining.
19. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the processor is further operable with the program to:
receive a payment for the flat rate play session, the payment comprising a flat rate price that is less than the sum of the wager available for placement during the session.
20. An apparatus for facilitating a video roulette wagering game, comprising:
a processor operable to facilitate a wagering game;
a memory storing a program, the memory operable to communicate with the processor;
a display for outputting representations of a video roulette wagering game;
the processor operable with the memory to:
output, via the display, a menu of available flat rate play sessions of a video roulette wagering game,
wherein each flat rate play session is defined by a flat rate price and a plurality of wagering unite to be provided to the player for wagering during the flat rate play session, a monetary value of the plurality of wagering units being greater than a monetary value of the flat rate price, and
wherein each flat rate play session is further defined by at least one of a wagering restriction and a maximum net payout per spin;
receiving a selection of a flat rate play session, thereby determining a selected flat rate play session;
receiving a payment of the flat rate price corresponding to the selected flat rate play session; and
facilitating the selected flat rate play session by conducting a plurality of spins of the video roulette game in accordance with the at least one of the wagering restriction and the maximum net payout per spin.
Description
  • [0001]
    The present application claims the benefit of priority of PCT/US08154728 filed Feb. 22, 2008 entitled “METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR FACILITATING FLAT RATE PLAY SESSIONS” which claims priority and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/891,154, filed Feb. 22, 2007.
  • [0002]
    This application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 10/986,529, filed Nov. 10, 2004 in the name of Walker et al. and entitled GAMING DEVICE FOR A FLAT RATE PLAY SESSION AND A METHOD OF OPERATING SAME, which application is a continuation application of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/001,089 filed Nov. 2, 2001, which is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/518,760 filed 03103100, which is a continuation application of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/880,838 filed 06123197.
  • [0003]
    The entirety of each of these applications is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0004]
    FIG. 1 is an overall schematic view of a system according to one embodiment of the present invention, including a slot machine and a slot network server;
  • [0005]
    FIG. 2 a is a schematic view of the slot machine of FIG. 1;
  • [0006]
    FIG. 2 b is a plan view of the slot machine of FIG. 1;
  • [0007]
    FIG. 3 is a schematic view of the slot network server of FIG. 1;
  • [0008]
    FIG. 4 is a schematic view of a casino player database of the server of FIG. 3;
  • [0009]
    FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the flat rate database of the slot machine of FIG. 2;
  • [0010]
    FIG. 6 is a schematic view of the payout table of the slot machine of FIG. 2;
  • [0011]
    FIG. 7 is a schematic view of the calculation table of the slot machine of FIG. 2;
  • [0012]
    FIGS. 8 a and 8 b are overall flow diagrams of the operation of the system of FIG. 1;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 9 is a detailed flow diagram of the operation of the system of FIG. 1;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of the process of terminating play of the system of FIG. 1;
  • [0015]
    FIGS. 11 a and 11 b are flow diagrams of the process of resuming play of the system of FIG. 1;
  • [0016]
    FIGS. 12 a and 12 b are overall flow diagrams of the operation of another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 13 is a flow diagram of the process of receiving a payout in the embodiment of FIG. 12;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 14 is a schematic view of the flat rate price package database of the slot machine of FIG. 2; and
  • [0019]
    FIG. 15 is an overall flow diagram of the operation of another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 16 is an overall schematic view of a system according to another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 17 is a schematic view of the casino server of FIG. 16.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 18 is a schematic view of the insurer device of FIG. 16.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 19 is schematic view of the gaming device of FIG. 16.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 20 is a schematic view of the player device of FIG. 16.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 21 is a table illustrating an embodiment of the player database stored in the casino server of FIG. 17.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 22 is a table illustrating an embodiment of the gaming device database stored in the casino server of FIG. 17.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 23 is a table illustrating an embodiment of the contract database stored in the casino server of FIG. 17.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 24 is a flowchart illustrating a process in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the process corresponding to the system illustrated in FIG. 16.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 25 is a screen shot illustrating an example screen of a video roulette session, consistent with one or more embodiments.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 26 is a flowchart illustrating a process in accordance with one or more embodiments, a process for facilitating a video roulette session.
  • [0031]
    FIGS. 27 a-27 c illustrate three distinct screen shots of screens that may be output via a gaming device upon an occurrence of a qualifying jackpot, consistent with one or more embodiments.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0032]
    Certain embodiments of the present invention will now be described in greater detail with reference to the drawings. It should be understood that the embodiments described herein are relevant to many different types of games and gaming devices, such as reeled slot machines (whether stepper reels or video reels), video poker machines, video blackjack machines, video roulette machines, video keno machines, video baccarat machines and the like.
  • [0033]
    The present invention is directed generally to a method and apparatus for operating a gaming device having a flat rate play session. As used herein, flat rate play session is defined as a period of play wherein the player need not make funds available for any play during the play session. The flat rate play session spans multiple plays of the gaming device. These multiple plays are aggregated into intervals or segments of play. It is to be understood that the term interval as used herein could be time, handle pulls, and any other segment in which slot machine play could be divided. For example, two hours, one hundred spins, fifty winning spins, etc. A player enters player identifying information and player selected price parameters at a gaming device. The price parameters define the flat rate play session, describing the duration of play, machine denomination, jackpots active, etc. The gaming device stores the player selected price parameters and proceeds to retrieve the flat rate price of playing the gaming device for the flat rate play session. The player selected price parameters, in combination with operator price parameters, determine the flat rate price. Should the player decide to pay the flat rate price, the player simply deposits that amount into the gaming device or makes a credit account available for the gaming device to debit. For example, it might cost twenty-five dollars to play for half an hour.
  • [0034]
    Once the player initiates play, the gaming device tracks the flat rate play session and stops the play when the session is completed, usually when a time limit has expired. During the play session, the player is not required to deposit any coins. Payouts are made either directly to the player in the form of coins or indirectly in the form of credits to the credit balance stored in the machine. It should be understood that the player balance could be stored in a number of mediums, such as smart cards, credit card accounts, debit cards, and hotel credit accounts.
  • [0035]
    With reference to FIG. 1, a system 100 according to one embodiment of the present invention is shown. In general, the system 100 comprises multiple slot machines 102 and a slot network server 106. In the present embodiment, each slot machine 102, which is uniquely identified by a machine identification (ID) number, communicates with the slot network server 106 via a slot network 104. The slot network 104 is preferably a conventional local area network controlled by the server 106. It is to be understood, however, that other arrangements in which the slot machines 102 communicate with the server 106 are within the scope of the present invention.
  • [0036]
    As will be described in greater detail below, in one embodiment, the slot machine 102 communicates player identifying information to the slot network server 106. The slot network server 106, in turn, verifies the player identifying information. The slot machine 102 also calculates a flat rate price based on both player selected and casino determined price parameters and displays the flat rate price to the player. The player may then accept the flat rate price and initiate play. In another embodiment, the present invention may be practiced without server 106, in an arrangement in which the slot machine 102 calculates the flat rate price.
  • [0037]
    With reference to FIG. 2 a, the slot machine 102 will now be described in greater detail. The slot machine 102 contains a Central Processing Unit (CPU) 210, a clock 212, and an operating system 214 (typically stored in memory as software). The CPU 210 executes instructions of a program stored in Read Only Memory (ROM) 216 for playing the slot machine 102. The Random Access Memory (RAM) 218 temporarily stores information passed to it by the CPU 210 during play. Also in communication with the CPU 210 is a Random Number Generator (RNG) 220.
  • [0038]
    With respect to gaming operations, the slot machine 102 operates in a conventional manner. The player starts the machine 102 by inserting a coin into coin acceptor 248, or using electronic credit, and pressing the starting controller 222. Under control of a program stored, for example in a data storage device 224 or ROM 216, the CPU 210 initiates the RNG 220 to generate a number. The CPU 210 looks up the generated random number in a stored probability table 226, which contains a list which matches random numbers to corresponding outcomes, and finds the appropriate outcome. Based on the identified outcome, the CPU 210 locates the appropriate payout in a stored payout table 228. The CPU 210 also directs a reel controller 230 to spin reels 232, 234, 236 and to stop them at a point when they display a combination of symbols corresponding to the appropriate payout. When the player wins, the machine stores the credits in RAM 218 and displays the current balance in video display area 238. In an alternate embodiment, the slot machine 102 dispenses the coins to a payout tray (not shown), and in another embodiment, the slot network server 106 stores the player credits.
  • [0039]
    A hopper controller 240 is connected to a hopper 242 for dispensing coins. When the player requests to cash out by pushing a cashout button (not shown) on the slot machine 102, the CPU 210 checks the RAM 218 to see if the player has any credit and, if so, signals the hopper controller 240 to release an appropriate number of coins into a payout tray (not shown). A coin acceptor 248 is also coupled to the CPU 210. Each coin received by the coin acceptor 248 is registered by the CPU 210.
  • [0040]
    In alternate embodiments, the slot machine 102 does not include the reel controller 230 and reels 232, 234 and 236. Instead, a video display area 238 graphically displays representations of objects contained in the selected game, such as graphical reels or playing cards. These representations are preferably animated to display playing of the selected game. Further, video display area 238 may be utilized by a player pursuant to the purchase, selection and configuration of a flat rate play session (e.g., a pre-packaged flat rate play session with operator-specified parameters), as described in Applicant's co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/254,352, entitled METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR FACILITATING A FLAT RATE PLAY SESSION AND FOR EXTENDING SAME, filed on Oct. 20, 2005; the entirety of this application is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
  • [0041]
    Also in communication with the CPU 210 is a player tracking device 260. The tracking device 260 comprises a card reader 266 for reading player identifying information stored on a player tracking card. As used herein, the term player identifying information denotes any information or compilation of information that uniquely identifies a player. In the present embodiment, the identifying information is a player identification (ID) number. Although not so limited, the player tracking card of the present embodiment stores the player ID on a magnetic strip located thereon. Such a magnetic strip and device to read the information stored on the magnetic strip are well known.
  • [0042]
    The player tracking device 260 also includes a display 262 and a player interface 264. The player interface 264 may include a keypad and/or a touchscreen display. In operation, as discussed below, the slot machine 102 displays a message prompting the player to enter player selected price parameters. In the present embodiment, a player may enter the player selected price parameters via the player interface 264. Because the player interface 264 is part of the tracking device 260, it is, therefore, in communication with the CPU 210. Alternatively, input of selected price parameters may be accomplished through video display area 238 if it is configured with touch screen capabilities.
  • [0043]
    The slot machine 102 also includes a series of bet buttons 272, 274, 276. The bet buttons include “Bet 1 coin” 272, “Bet 2 coins” 274, and “Bet 3 coins” 276. The bet buttons 272, 274, 276 are coupled to the CPU 210. Therefore, pressing one transmits a signal to the CPU 210 indicating how much a player is wagering on a given play.
  • [0044]
    The databases stored in the data storage device 224 include a probability table 226, a calculation table 227, a payout table 228, a flat rate price package database 229, and a flat rate database 246. As discussed in greater detail below, the flat rate database 246 and the calculation table 227 store information related to the flat rate play session and calculation of the flat rate price, respectively. The flat rate price package database 229 stores information describing different pre-established flat rate packages as custom designed by the casino.
  • [0045]
    Also connected to the CPU 210 is a slot network interface 250. The slot network interface 250 provides a communication path from the slot machine 102 to slot network server 106 through the slot network 104. Thus, as discussed in greater detail below, information is communicated among the player tracking card, player tracking device 260, slot machine 102, and slot network server 106.
  • [0046]
    In some embodiments, slot machine 102 may be embodied as a mobile gaming device, which may communicate wirelessly with one or more other devices (e.g., slot network server 106) as described below (e.g., via a wireless communication protocol such as WiFi). Example mobile gaming devices include “laptop” computers, cellular phones, personal digital assistants, or any “handheld” electronic devices that may be configured to perform gaming applications. For example, a small handheld computing device may be operable to (i) receive inputs from players (e.g., a player presses a button or area of a touch-screen as a command to execute game play), (ii) generate and/or output game results (e.g., the mobile gaming device may have its own RNG, or simply output outcomes that have been determined and transmitted by a central server), (iii) receive funds (e.g., a signal is sent to the mobile gaming device authorizing a particular credit balance), (iv) payout funds (e.g., transmit funds to a player account), etc.
  • [0047]
    In one example, a mobile gaming device may comprise a “tablet PC” such as the LS800 Tablet PC running Microsoft® Windows® XP Tablet PC Edition developed by Motion Computing, Inc. of Austin, Tex. A description of this device, which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes, is available for review on the Internet at: http://www.motioncomputing.com/products/tablet_pc_ls.asp. In another example, a mobile gaming device may comprise a handheld computing device developed by Hewlett-Packard Company of Palo Alt, Calif., such as the iPAQ hw6920 running Microsoft® Windows Mobile™ for Pocket PC. A description of this device, which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes, is available for review on the Internet at: http://www.cantorgaming.com/cgv2.html.
  • [0048]
    With reference to FIG. 2 b, the plan view of slot machine 102, will now be described below. FIG. 2 b depicts slot machine 102 displaying player selected price parameter options on video display area 238. Included in the displayed parameters is amount wagered per play 712, interval 714, duration of interval 722, and active pay combinations 720. As will be described further below, after the player has selected the desired price parameters, the slot machine 102 displays a flat rate price 724. Once the player has accepted the flat rate price and made the appropriate funds available, play may commence.
  • [0049]
    The slot network server 106 will now be described in greater detail with reference to FIG. 3. Like the slot machine 102 of FIG. 2, the slot network server 106 has a Central Processing Unit (CPU) 310. The CPU 310, which has a clock 312 associated therewith, executes instructions of a program stored in Read Only Memory (ROM) 320. During execution of the program instructions, the CPU 310 temporarily stores information in the Random Access Memory (RAM) 330.
  • [0050]
    Additionally, the CPU 310 is coupled to a data storage device 340, having a flat rate database 246, transaction processor 342 and a casino player database 344. In general, the transaction processor 342 manages the contents of the data storage devices 340. As discussed in detail below, the casino player database 344 stores information specific to each player, including player identifying information.
  • [0051]
    In order to communicate with the slot machines 102, the slot network server 106 also includes a communication port 350. The communication port 350 is coupled to the CPU 310 and a slot machine interface 360. Thus, the CPU 310 can control the communication port 350 to receive information from the data storage device 340 and RAM 330 and transmit the information to the slot machines 102 and vice versa.
  • [0052]
    It is to be understood that because the slot machines 102 are in communication with the slot network server 106, information stored in a slot machine 102 may be stored in the server 106 and vice versa. Thus, for example, in an alternate embodiment, the server 106 rather than the slot machine 102 includes the payout table 228, flat rate database 246, and/or calculation table 227.
  • [0053]
    The casino player database 344 of the present embodiment, as shown in FIG. 4, includes multiple records having multiple fields of information. Specifically, the casino player database 344 comprises multiple records, each record being associated with a particular player, as identified by a player identification (ID) number. The fields within each record include: player identification (ID) number 410, social security number 412, name 414, address 416, telephone number 418, credit card number 420, credit balance 422, complimentary information, such as total accumulated complimentary points 424, whether the player is a hotel guest 426, player status rating 428, and value of interval remaining 430. Having information related to one field, such as player ID 410, allows the slot network server 106 to retrieve all information stored in corresponding fields of that player record.
  • [0054]
    It is to be understood that not all of these identifying fields are necessary for operation of the present embodiment. For example, the name 414, social security number 412, address 416, telephone number 418, credit card number 420, and hotel guest 426 fields are merely representative of additional information that may be stored and used for other purposes. In one embodiment, credit card number 420 and hotel guest 426 are used for billing purposes and social security number 412 is used to generate tax forms when a player wins a jackpot over a given amount.
  • [0055]
    Complimentary points awarded 424 is further illustrative of additional information a casino may store in a player's record. As described below, a player's complimentary points are displayed to the player when a player tracking card is inserted into the slot machine 102. In an alternate embodiment, such points may be used in addition, or as an alternative to the credit balance 422 stored in RAM 218 of slot machine 102.
  • [0056]
    The player status rating 428 contains information representative of the particular player's relative importance to the casino, as based upon the frequency and duration of the player's visits, the amount of money wagered, and the like.
  • [0057]
    The value of interval remaining field 430 stores the value of interval remaining in a flat rate play session when a player terminates the play session prior to its expiration. This field will be described in greater detail below.
  • [0058]
    The flat rate database 246 will now be described in greater detail with reference to FIG. 5. The flat rate database 246 comprises multiple records, each record pertaining to the flat rate play session of a particular player, as identified by that player's ID number. Consequently, one field in flat rate database 246 is the player ID number field 510. Other fields include: player selected price parameters 512, flat rate price 514, interval remaining 516, time audit data 518, and machine identification (ID) number field 520. The machine ID number field 520 contains the machine ID number that uniquely identifies the slot machine 102. It is to be understood that since both the casino player database 244 and the flat rate database 246 include a player ID field, 410 and 510, respectively, the system 100 can correlate any player information stored in the casino player database 344, with any player information stored in the flat rate database 246.
  • [0059]
    The payout table 228 will now be described in greater detail with reference to FIG. 6. As shown in FIG. 6, the payout table 228 of the present embodiment can be logically represented by five fields of related information. The first field, a pay combination field 610, identifies the set of possible pay combinations for a given slot machine 102. Such possible pay combinations include winning pay combinations, or those in which a payout results, and non-winning pay combinations, in which the player receives no payout and consequently loses the amount wagered. Winning pay combinations include, for example, “DOUBLE JACKPOT-DOUBLE JACKPOT-DOUBLE JACKPOT” and “BAR-BAR-BAR.” The pay combinations field 610 also includes a “NON-WINNING OUTCOMES” record, an entry representing the outcomes which result in no payout to the player, such as “PLUM-BELL-ORANGE.”
  • [0060]
    The payout table 228 also includes three payout fields 620, 630, 640. Such payout fields 620, 630, 640 contain the payout information for each of the possible pay combinations identified in the pay combinations field 610. Each of the payout fields 620, 630, 640 is identified by the number of coins wagered on a particular play, as selected via the bet buttons 272, 274, 276. In the present embodiment, payout table 228 contains a “1 coin” payout field 620, which is accessed when one coin is wagered, a “2 coins” payout field 630, which is accessed when two coins are wagered, and a “3 coins” payout field 640, which is accessed when three coins are wagered. In other words, each field 620, 630, 640 corresponds to a bet button 272, 274, 276, respectively. The payout information provides the number of coins won upon the occurrence of a particular pay combination. Thus, “CHERRY-CHERRY-CHERRY” pays out ten coins when one coin is wagered.
  • [0061]
    Finally, the payout table 228 of the present embodiment includes a pay combination status field 650. The pay combination status field 650 includes an indication for each winning pay combination, identified in the pay combination field 610, of whether the player is eligible to win the payout for each outcome. As will be described below, the determination of whether a player is eligible to win a payout for a given outcome is made by the player as part of the player selected price parameters.
  • [0062]
    The calculation table 227 will now be described in greater detail with reference to FIG. 7. The calculation table 227 is used by the system 100 in determining the flat rate price 724 (field 514 in the flat rate database 246) charged to the player. Specifically, the calculation table 227 contains multiple price parameters which are correlated to a flat rate price 724. More specifically, these price parameters include player selected price parameters and operator selected price parameters. In general, player selected price parameters include any game related variable that defines the flat rate play session. Furthermore, operator selected price parameters are parameters which the operator of the slot machines 102 selects as affecting the flat rate price 724. Thus, in the present embodiment, the player selected price parameters in the calculation table 227 include machine type 710, amount wagered per play 712, active pay combinations 720, and length of the flat rate play session 722. The operator selected price parameters in the calculation table 227 include player status rating 714, time of day 716, day of the week 718, and machine usage 719. In the present embodiment the flat rate price 724 is predetermined based upon the aforementioned price parameters and stored in the calculation table 227, as will be described later in FIGS. 14 and 15. In an alternate embodiment the flat rate price 724 is calculated based upon these parameters as needed according to a price algorithm stored in memory. For example, the price algorithm may operate as follows:
  • Algorithm for Calculating a Flat Rate Price.
  • [0063]
    The are any number of algorithms that could be used to calculate a flat rate price, and they can be generally described as calculating an expected value to the customer and then adding in a margin for the casino or adjusting the price to reflect the time of day, value of the customer, etc.
  • [0064]
    The first step is to determine a “base” flat rate price. This would be calculated as follows:
  • [0000]

    Base Price=[(amount wagered)×(interval)]×[(expected coins awarded for all active pay combinations over a cycle/expected coin-in over a cycle)].
  • [0065]
    For example, the following Base Price calculation represents a player selecting three dollar coins per handle pull, an interval of 500 handle pulls, and the top three pay combinations active. For this example we will assume that a complete cycle of the slot machine is 10,648 unique outcomes and that the top three pay combinations would pay 2,160 coins over that cycle. Note also that the expected coins awarded for all active pay combinations over a cycle and the expected coin-in over the cycle should both reflect the same number of coins wagered. Essentially, this ratio reflects the expected monetary return to the payer on a per coin wagered basis. When multiplied by the amount wagered and the number of handle pulls the number reflects the amount of money that the player would be expected to receive from the machine over the interval specified. It should be notes that this amount of money is not necessarily the number of coins entered by the player but rather is the theoretical number of coins of play allowed by the flat rate session. Continuing with the calculation:
  • [0000]
    Base Price = [ ( $3 ) × ( 500 ) ] × [ ( 2 , 160 / 10 , 648 ) ] = $1 , 500 × .202855 = $304 .28
  • [0066]
    Note that if the player were to pay this Base Price he would be essentially getting a fair bet for his money. He would pay $304.28 for the session and expect (over the long run) to get $304.28 back in prize money from the top three active pay combinations. Of course in the short run his results could range from receiving no payouts over the interval to receiving thousands of dollars. Because this base price is a fair bet for the player the casino may want to add in margin for the house, perhaps by multiplying the base price by a predetermined margin factor such as 50%. In this example the Profit Adjusted Price would thus be:
  • [0000]
    Profit Adjusted Price = $304 .28 × 150 % = $456 .42
  • [0067]
    Of course the casino might want to offer flat rate sessions to players without a casino markup under some circumstances, such as part of a promotional package or to reward a particularly loyal customer. In fact the casino might even decrease the base price in some circumstances.
  • [0068]
    The Base Price or (Profit Adjusted Price) could be further modified by various other operator price parameters such as the following:
  • 1. Time of Day (TD).
  • [0069]
    Times of the day in which the casino traffic tends to be heavy should result in the player paying a premium for the flat rate session, while quiet times in the casino should offer the player a discount over normal rates.
  • [0000]
    Midnight to 4am 70%
    4am to 8am 80%
    8am to 12pm 90%
    12pm to 4pm 100%
    4pm to 8pm 120%
    8pm to Midnight 140%
  • 2. Day of Week (DW).
  • [0070]
    With the heaviest volume of visitors falling on Fridays and Saturdays, these days will necessitate higher flat rate session costs. For example:
  • [0000]
    Monday to Thursday  80%
    Friday 120%
    Saturday 140%
    Sunday 100%
  • 3. Player Status Rating (PSR).
  • [0071]
    For top customers such as high rollers, the cost of a flat rate session may be reduced as a customer retention tool. For example:
  • [0000]
    1 (High Roller) 80%
    2 (Good customer) 90%
    3 (Average) 100%
    4 (Low) 120%
  • 4. Slot Machine Usage (SMU).
  • [0072]
    When the majority of slot machines in the casino are being used, a premium is applied to the cost of the flat rate play session in order to more evenly distribute play. For example:
  • [0000]
    Heavy 120%
    Moderate 100%
    Light  80%
  • Sample Calculation.
  • [0073]
    In addition to the above player selected price parameters, the following operator selected parameters are incorporated into the price: The player is in the casino at 2 am on a Wednesday, there is low slot machine usage, and the player has an average rating. The calculations below reflect these conditions:
  • [0000]
    Base Price = $304 .28 Final flat rate price = ( Base Price ) × TD × DW × PSR × SMU = $304 .28 × 70 % × 80 % × 100 % × 80 % = $304 .28 × 44.8 % = $136 .32
  • [0074]
    The casino may round up this price to $137 to avoid the need for small change. In the above calculations, the casino might also incorporate floors which prevent the Base Price from going below a level that would be profitable for the house, regardless of the number of positive criterion that were applied to the base price.
  • [0075]
    Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that modifications could be made to the formula to reflect different kinds of flat rate sessions. For a session with an interval of one hour (instead of a fixed number of handle pulls) the formula might reflect an expected number of handle pulls per hour for that particular game, perhaps even adjusted to reflect the type of player purchasing the flat rate session. For example, an experienced video poker player might be expected to reach 700 hands per hour while a beginner might only be expected to reach 300 hands per hour.
  • [0076]
    As will also be understood by those skilled in the art, the ultimate goal of many slot machine players is to hit a jackpot payout. The enjoyment of the play, as well as the ability to maximize the chance of hitting a large jackpot, is increased by more play. Play can be increased both by playing longer, and by playing faster. As will be appreciated from a consideration of the process described below, the present invention permits both increased duration, by providing for play at discounted prices, and speed of play, by providing for minimal time delays between plays.
  • [0077]
    The flat rate price package database 229 will now be described in greater detail with reference to FIG. 14. The flat rate price package database 229 is used by the system 100 in providing the player with different price package options for flat rate play of the slot machine 100. Specifically, the flat rate price package database 229 contains multiple combinations, or packages 1410, of price parameters which correspond to pre-established flat rate prices. More specifically, these price parameters include but are not limited to, interval 1412, duration of flat rate play 1414, amount wagered per play 1416, and pay combination status 1418. Each combination of price parameters has corresponding flat rate play session prices 1420. As will be described later in FIG. 15, the flat rate price package database 229 is accessed when the player determines he wishes to initiate a flat rate play session. Rather than let the player choose the price parameters, the slot machine 100 lists the different packages stored in the flat rate price package database 229. The player then chooses the package he likes the most and play commences.
  • [0078]
    Having thus described the components of the present embodiment, the operation of the system 100 will now be described in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 8-11, and continuing reference to FIGS. 1-7. It is to be understood that the programs stored in ROM 320 of the slot network server 106 and ROM 216 of the slot machine 102 provide the function described below.
  • [0079]
    Turning first to FIGS. 8 a and 8 b, the general operation of the system 100 will be described. As shown in step 810, the slot machine player first inserts the player tracking card into the card reader 266. The card reader 266 then proceeds to read player identifying information from the tracking card. The player identifying information, namely the player ID number, is communicated from the slot machine 102 to the slot server 106 in step 812.
  • [0080]
    Upon receiving the player identifying information, the slot network server 106 verifies the information in step 814. Such verification includes the slot network server 106 searching the casino player database 344 for a record containing the received player ID number in the appropriate field 410. Once the slot network server 106 verifies the player identifying information, the server 106 transmits a signal to the slot machine 102 acknowledging such verification in step 816. In alternate embodiments, other information, such as the player's name 414, complimentary point total 424, and player status rating 428 are transmitted to the slot machine 102 for display.
  • [0081]
    In step 818, the player selects flat rate play via the player interface 264. The CPU 210 of slot machine 102, in step 820, then receives a signal from the player interface 264, indicating that the player has selected flat rate play. For example, there could be a button specifically for triggering a flat rate play session. The CPU 210, in response, accesses memory to retrieve player selectable price parameters. Player selectable price parameters are the choices available to a player for entering the player selected price parameters. These player selectable price parameters are controlled by a program stored in ROM 216. Such player selectable price parameters, in the present embodiment, include the amount wagered per play, (e.g. one, two, or three coins), the length of the flat rate play session, and possible jackpot structures, such as having only the “DOUBLE JACKPOT” and “5 BAR” jackpots active (as illustrated in the payout table 228 of FIG. 6). In an alternate embodiment, the player selectable price parameters are stored as part of the calculation table 227.
  • [0082]
    Then, as shown in step 822, the slot machine 102 displays the player selectable price parameters to the player. For example, the parameters could be listed on the video display area 238 for the player, as described previously in FIG. 2 b. Once the parameters appear, the player simply selects his desired settings. Alternatively, the player may accept one or more default settings. Once the player selectable price parameters are displayed on the display 238, the player proceeds, in step 824, to enter player selected price parameters via the player interface 264. The player selected price parameters also include data which, although not directly inputted by the player, is selected by the player and identified by the slot machine 102. In the present embodiment, such additional player selected price parameters include type of machine, time of day, and day of the week.
  • [0083]
    It is to be understood that the casino operator of the slot machines 102 may define the scope of the player selectable price parameters, and therefore limit the player selected price parameters in any manner. For example, the length of flat rate play may be limited to periods above a minimum time or to periods that are multiples of thirty minute intervals. The jackpot structure may require that some jackpots remain active.
  • [0084]
    Referring now to FIG. 8 b, the slot machine 102 CPU 210 receives the player selected price parameters in step 826. Having received the player selected parameters, the CPU 210 then stores the player selected price parameters, the player identifying information, and the slot machine's machine ID number in a record in the flat rate database 246. Specifically, the player ID number is stored in field 510, the machine ID number is stored in field 520, and the player selected price parameters are stored in field 512. Although the player selected price parameters are illustrated as being stored in a single field (512), it is to be understood that each player selected price parameter may be stored in a separate field. It is also to be understood that in alternate embodiments the player selected price parameters need not be stored in a database, but could be stored in RAM 218.
  • [0085]
    The slot machine 102 CPU 210 uses the player selected price parameters to determine the flat rate prices. Specifically, in step 828, the CPU 210 accesses the calculation table 227 and searches for the flat rate price 724 corresponding to the received player selected price parameters 512, which, in the present embodiment, include machine type 710, amount wagered per play 712, time of day 716, day of the week 718, active jackpots 720, and the length of the flat rate play session 722. The CPU 210 also incorporates operator selected price parameters for the flat rate price 724 such as player status rating 714 and machine availability 719. As will be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the player status rating 714 is received from the casino player database 344 at any time prior to determination of the flat rate price 724. Thus, in a preferred embodiment, the slot network server 106 transmits the player status rating 428 to the slot machine 102 along with the verification signal in step 816.
  • [0086]
    By including the player status rating 714 in the calculation table 277, a casino may reward frequent players who wager relatively large amounts of money with a lower flat rate price 724. Thus, the system 100 rewards and encourages frequent play. By including active jackpots 720 in the calculation table 348, the system 100 allows a casino to discount the flat rate price 724 for those players who choose to enable relatively few winning outcomes in the payout table 228. Furthermore, by including the price parameters relating to time of day and day of the week in the calculation table 227, a casino may charge a lower flat rate price 724 for sessions during weekday afternoons or between 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. in the mornings, thereby encouraging play of the slot machines 102 when they are typically idle.
  • [0087]
    It is to be understood that the aforementioned price parameters in the calculation table 227 are merely representative of the type of variables that may be considered in determining a flat rate price. Thus, it is within the scope of the present invention to include only some of the price parameters, all of the parameters, or additional parameters in the calculation table 227.
  • [0088]
    As mentioned above, the flat rate price may be based partly upon the availability of slot machines 102. In such an embodiment, the server 106 tracks whether each slot machine 102 is being used by noting whether outcomes are currently being received from a given slot machine 102. In another embodiment, the server 106 tracks slot machine availability by tabulating the number of slot machines 102 for which flat rate play is currently enabled. In yet another embodiment, the server 106 tracks slot machine availability by identifying how many slot machines 102 have a player tracking card inserted therein.
  • [0089]
    Another price parameter which may be used is predicted or forecasted slot machine availability. Specifically, such a parameter accounts for anticipated availability of slot machines 102 based upon events at the casino. For example, the calculation table 227 correlates a lower flat rate price 724 to the time of day 716 corresponding to an event, such as a show which many casino players attend. On the other hand, the calculation table 227 correlates a higher flat rate price to the time of day 716 corresponding to the end of the event or heavier casino traffic. This enables a casino to effectively revenue manage their slot machines without resorting to a change in hold percentage which requires regulatory approval.
  • [0090]
    It is to be understood that accounting for slot machine availability need not be accomplished in the calculation table 227. Rather, in an alternate embodiment, a schedule of events is stored in RAM 218 which is accessed prior to transmitting the flat rate price 724 to the player. If the event schedule indicates that an event is ending during the requested flat rate play session, then the flat rate price 724 will be incremented accordingly.
  • [0091]
    In another embodiment, the flat rate price is based only on operator selected price parameters. A slot machine 102 according to such an embodiment could, for example, provide discounted flat rate play sessions based on player status rating, thereby offering 100 plays for the price of 90 or discounted timed sessions. To encourage repeat, high stakes play, higher player status ratings result in greater discounts.
  • [0092]
    Having determined the flat rate price 724, the slot machine 102, in step 830, displays the duration of the flat rate play session 722 and the flat rate price 724 and requests approval from the player. Once the player accepts the terms of the flat rate play session, flat rate play commences.
  • [0093]
    If the player does not approve the flat rate price 724, then the player indicates so via the player interface 264. As indicated by path A in FIGS. 8 a and 8 b, the slot machine 102 repeats its operation from step 822. On the other hand, if the player approves the flat rate price 724, the player indicates such approval via the player interface 264 in step 832. Following such approval, the slot machine 102 prompts the player to enter an appropriate amount of money in step 834. In the present embodiment, the player deposits coins into the coin acceptor 248. In one embodiment, the player deposits a casino token as payment for the flat rate session. Such tokens may be denominated in dollars, or represent a number of handle pulls. A casino could thus sell a fifty handle pull token, usable on a particular denomination and/or type of machine. Such a token may additionally serve to activate the flat rate session, eliminating the need for the player to select flat rate play via player interface 264. Alternatively, the player's credit balance 422 may be debited to pay for the flat rate play session.
  • [0094]
    In some embodiments a casino token may be associated with a particular set of pay combinations which are to be active during a flat rate play session activated via the token. In yet other embodiments a casino token may be associated with (i) a specified duration of time, (ii) a specified number of handle pulls or outcomes, (iii) a specified number of winning handle pulls or outcomes, and/or (iv) a flat rate price package as, for example, described with reference to the flat rate price package database 299 of FIG. 14. A gaming device may identify such a token and enter the appropriate flat rate play session by, for example, the size and/or weight of the token or by reading or receiving information from the token (e.g. via a computer chip embedded in the token or special markings on the token). Such a casino token may be, for example, purchased by a person and given to another person as a gift. The recipient may subsequently use the token by inserting it into an appropriate gaming device and essentially playing for “free” (since the person that gave the gift had prepaid for the token) for a specified duration.
  • [0095]
    Once the CPU 210 registers the receipt of money, the CPU 210 reconfigures the slot machine 201 for the flat rate play session in step 836. Specifically, the CPU 210 generates a signal, or a flag in memory, indicating that there is no need to accept the coins between plays. CPU 210 further sets the active field 650 in the payout table 228 according to the jackpot structure entered by the player.
  • [0096]
    The operation of the slot machine 102 during the flat rate play session will now be described with reference to FIG. 9 and continuing reference to FIGS. 1-7. During the flat rate play session, a slot machine 102 operates generally as described above with reference to FIG. 2. However, the slot machine 102 is reconfigured to operate according to the player selected price parameters, if such parameters affect play, and to operate continuously, without requiring payment between each play. Specifically, the flat rate play session begins when the player presses the starting controller 222 in step 910. The CPU 210 also initiates a countdown of the length of the flat rate play session as stored in the player selected parameters field 512 of the flat rate database 246. With the start of the session, the CPU 210 stores the start time of the flat rate play session in the flat rate database 246. Specifically, the start time is stored in the time audit data field 520 in step 912. In step 914, the CPU 210 begins to count down the duration of the flat rate play session. Next, in step 916, the slot machine 102 generates an outcome and accesses payout table 228 to determine the appropriate corresponding number of coins to be paid out.
  • [0097]
    Furthermore, in step 918, after each outcome is generated, the slot machine 102 determines whether the countdown of the interval remaining 516 has reached zero. It is to be understood that the countdown may be implemented in either software or hardware. Additionally, it is understood that the countdown process discussed herein may be replaced with any suitable means for tracking the duration of the flat rate play session. Interval remaining 516 may also represent the number of handle pulls remaining.
  • [0098]
    In the event that the countdown has not reached zero, the player presses the starting controller 222 in step 920, thereby initiating another play of the slot machine 102. In the event that the countdown has reached zero, the CPU 210 generates a signal indicating that the flat rate play session has concluded. The slot machine 102 displays a message indicating this to the player and, in step 922, stores the end time of the session in the time audit data field 518 of the flat rate database.
  • [0099]
    In an alternate embodiment, the player selected price parameters include the “time between plays.” In this embodiment, the CPU 210 of slot machine 102 controls the time between generating outcomes of successive plays in the slot machine 102 to equal the received “time between plays” player selected price parameter. In another alternate embodiment, the slot machine 102 tracks the number of plays during the flat rate play session. If the number of plays exceeds a predetermined limit, the slot machine 102 automatically terminates the flat rate play session, regardless of the duration of the flat rate play session.
  • [0100]
    Turning now to FIG. 10, the operation of the system 100 when the player terminates the flat rate play session prior to the expiration of the session will be described. In step 1010, the player indicates a desire to terminate the flat rate play session via the player interface 264. Consequently, the slot machine 102 CPU 210 receives a termination signal and, in step 1012, displays a message to the player, asking the player to verify termination of the flat rate play session. If the player does not verify termination, then the session continues as described above with reference to FIG. 9. On the other hand, if the player verifies termination, shown as step 1014, the CPU 210 proceeds to store the stop time in the time audit data field 518 of the flat rate database 246 in step 1016.
  • [0101]
    It is to be understood that having both the start time and the stop time of the flat rate play sessions stored in the flat rate database 246 allows the casino to perform an audit of the session. Specifically, should a player allege that the flat rate play session was shorter than that which was paid for, the casino may access the flat rate database 246 and retrieve the actual start and stop time from the time audit data field 520. In the present embodiment, this time includes an indication of the day, hour, and minute of the play session.
  • [0102]
    Next, in step 1018, CPU 210 determines the value of the interval remaining in the flat rate play session and transmits the value to the server 106. In order to determine the value of the interval remaining, the CPU 210 accesses the calculation table 227. The value of interval remaining will equal the flat rate price 724 corresponding to the price parameters (i.e., the machine type 710, amount wagered per play 712, player status rating 714, time of day 716, etc.) used to determine the original flat rate price charged to the player. When determining the value of the interval remaining, however, the value in the length of flat rate play session field 722 is not the original length of the session, but rather is equal to the actual interval remaining in the flat rate play session. Stated succinctly, the slot machine 102 identifies the flat rate price 724 corresponding to the actual interval remaining in the flat rate play session.
  • [0103]
    Once the value of interval remaining is determined, the slot machine 102 transmits the value to the slot network server 106. Upon receiving the value of interval remaining, the server 106 stores the value in field 430 of the casino player database 344 in the player's record, as identified by the player ID number 410. Storing the value is shown as step 1020. Finally, in step 1022, the player removes the player tracking card.
  • [0104]
    The process of resuming play at another slot machine 102 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 11 a and 11 b. The initial operation of the system 100, as indicated by steps 1110-1128, proceeds generally as described above with reference to steps 810-828 of FIGS. 8 a and 8 b.
  • [0105]
    However, once the CPU 210 of slot machine 102 determines a new flat rate price based on the relevant price parameters, the CPU 210 determines whether the player must deposit additional funds.
  • [0106]
    Specifically, in step 1130, the CPU 210 compares the new flat rate price 724 with the value of interval remaining 430. The server 106 transmits the value of interval remaining 430, as stored in the casino player database 344, to the slot machine 102 in step 1116 so that the comparison may be performed. As indicated by step 1132, the comparison involves determining whether the new flat rate price 724 is higher than the value of interval remaining 430.
  • [0107]
    If the new price 724 is not higher than the value of interval remaining 430, then, in step 1134, the slot machine allows the player to play the flat rate session at no cost. However, if the new flat rate price 724 is higher than the value of interval remaining 430, then, in step 1136, the CPU 210 assigns the difference in the two values as the new flat rate price. Thus, in step 1138, the CPU 210 displays the new flat rate price on the video display area 238 of the slot machine 102. Thereafter, operation of the system continues as described above with reference to steps 832-836 of FIG. 8 b.
  • [0108]
    In an alternate embodiment, when a player terminates the flat rate session early, the value of the interval remaining is added to the player's credit balance, as stored in field 422 of the casino player database 344.
  • [0109]
    It is to be understood that an embodiment of the present invention need not include both a slot machine and slot network server. For example, an embodiment employing only a slot machine 102 is within the scope of the present invention. Such an embodiment will now be described with reference to FIGS. 12 a, 12 b, and 13, and continuing reference to FIGS. 2, 5, and 7. Such an embodiment utilizes the slot machine 102 of FIG. 2.
  • [0110]
    Initially, the player selects flat rate play on the slot machine 102 in step 1210. Once the player selects flat rate play, the flat rate play signal is transmitted from the player interface 264 to the CPU 210 in step 1212. The CPU 210 then proceeds, in step 1214, to retrieve the player options for selectable price parameters. Then, in step 1216, the CPU 210 transmits the player selectable price parameter options to the video display area 238 for viewing.
  • [0111]
    Once the player selectable price parameter options have been displayed to the player, the player inputs the player selected price parameters through the player interface 264. Then, in step 1220, the CPU 210 receives the player selected price parameters from the player interface 264.
  • [0112]
    Once the CPU 210 receives the player selected price parameters, the CPU 210 reconfigures the slot machine 102. Specifically, the CPU 210 generates a signal, or a flag in memory, indicating that there is no need to accept the coins between plays. CPU 210 further sets the pay combination status field 650 in the payout table 228 according to the jackpot structure entered by the player. In an alternate embodiment in which the player selectable price parameters include the time between the handle pulls, the CPU 210 sets an internal timer.
  • [0113]
    Furthermore, once the slot machine 102 CPU 210 receives the player selected price parameters, it proceeds to access the calculation table 227. By accessing the calculation table 227, the CPU 210 retrieves the flat rate price for the flat rate play session. Retrieving the flat rate price is shown as step 1224. Once the CPU 210 retrieves the flat rate price, it proceeds to transmit the price, the length of the flat rate play session, and payment instructions to the video display area 238 for player viewing in step 1226.
  • [0114]
    In step 1228, the player reads the data and instructions on the video display area 238 and inserts money into the coin acceptor 248 or a bill acceptor (not shown) in order to initiate play of the slot machine 102. In an alternate embodiment, the player enters a stored value card such as a “smart card” into the card reader 266. Such a smart card has the players credit balance stored thereon. Payment using a smart card further entails the CPU 210 debiting the player's balance on the smart card by the amount of the flat rate price. Further, the player may enter a credit card into the card reader 266.
  • [0115]
    In step 1230, the CPU 210 generates a confirmed payment message indicating that the player has deposited sufficient funds to cover the flat rate price. Consequently, the CPU 210, in step 1232, sends the current time to both the video display area 238 and the time audit field 518 of flat rate database 246. Next, in step 1234, the CPU 210 initiates the countdown of the interval remaining in the flat rate play session as stored in field 516. The length of the flat rate play session received from the player is initially stored in field 516. The slot machine 102 decrements, or counts down, this value as the flat rate play session begins.
  • [0116]
    As shown in step 1236, the flat rate play session continues in accordance with the player selected price parameters, if such parameters affect play, in step 1236. During such play, the CPU 210 stores and updates the player's accumulated credits in RAM 218. In an alternate embodiment, the slot machine pays out jackpots as they occur. Finally, in step 1238, the CPU 210 terminates the flat rate play session when the countdown ends.
  • [0117]
    In an alternate embodiment, the interval of the flat rate play session is not a time period, but rather is a maximum number of plays. In such an embodiment, the slot machine 102 stores the number of plays in the flat rate database 246, as described previously in FIG. 9, and, in step 916, increments a counter for each outcome generated. The counter may be implemented in either software or hardware. Furthermore, in step 918, the slot machine 102 compares the number of plays stored in the flat rate database 246 to the value of the counter. If the value of the counter equals the stored number of plays, then the flat rate play session is terminated.
  • [0118]
    Turning now to FIG. 13, the process of receiving a payout from the present embodiment will be described. As shown as step 1310, the flat rate play session ends upon the termination of the countdown. Specifically, as shown in step 1312, the slot machine 102 CPU 210 terminates the flat rate play session by reconfiguring the slot machine 102 to its default values. For example, the CPU 210 resets the pay combination status field 650 in the payout table 228 to reflect the original jackpot structure. The CPU 210 also generates a signal indicating that coins must be received for each play. In short, the player selected price parameters are no longer in effect.
  • [0119]
    In step 1314, the CPU 210 checks the total credits accumulated, as stored in the RAM 218, and transmits a payout command to the hopper controller 240. Consequently, in step 1316, the slot machine 102 pays out the total number of credits to the player.
  • [0120]
    An alternate embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIG. 15. The operation of slot machine 100, as indicated by steps 1510-1524 below, proceeds generally as described with reference to FIG. 14. In this embodiment, the player selects from a list of casino determined price packages, rather than choosing individual price parameters. Each price package, as stored in the flat rate price package database 229 described above, is a combination of different price parameters which correspond to a flat rate play session price.
  • [0121]
    In step 1510, the player presses a “flat rate play” button on the slot machine 100. The slot machine 102 CPU 210 receives flat rate play signal from the player interface 264 in step 1512. In this case, the player interface is an actual “flat rate play” button located on the outside of the slot machine 100. Next, in step 1514, the CPU 210 access flat rate price package database 229 from data storage device 224. The CPU 210 then displays the player selectable price packages on video display area 238 in step 1516. It is to be understood that the CPU 210 need not display the packages on the video display area 238, as those package options could be displayed elsewhere on the body of the slot machine 100. Alternatively, player interface 264 could incorporate several “flat rate play” buttons, each representing a different flat rate price package.
  • [0122]
    Next, in step 1518, the player selects the desired price package via the player interface 264. Having already seen what the price of the selected package is, the player then deposits the appropriate amount of money into coin acceptor 248 in step 1520. For example, the player may have chosen price package four which costs fifty dollars. In return for fifty dollars deposited into the slot machine, the player receives two hundred and fifty handle pulls, with three coins wagered per pull, and with the top three jackpots active in his flat rate play session. These parameters are specified in the flat rate price package database 229.
  • [0123]
    In step 1522, the CPU 210 receives an indication of payment from the coin acceptor 248 and reconfigures the parameters of slot machine 100 to meet the specifications of the flat rate price package selected by the player. Finally, in step 1524, flat rate play begins.
  • [0124]
    It is noted that the flat rate price package database 229 could be located at the slot network server 106 and not at each individual slot machine 100. When it is located at the server, certain casino or operator selected parameters could be used to determine the price. For example, there could be different flat rate price packages for different times during the day which are based on projected or actual casino traffic and/or slot machine usage.
  • [0125]
    As will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the key step in getting players to wager money on gaming devices, such as slot machines, is to bring the players to the casino floor. One way in which casinos can bring additional players to the casino floor, and thereby increase total revenues, is by giving away free samples or rewards with a minimum displacement of traditional pay-per-play players. The present invention may be employed for such a purpose.
  • [0126]
    In one embodiment, for example, the casino could declare a free-play period. During the free-play period, likely chosen by the casino to correspond to down time, when most gaming devices are idle, players insert their player tracking cards into the gaming devices and initiate play without being charged. Specifically, the casino programs the calculation table 227 so that the flat rate price 724 is zero for a given time of day 716 and day of the week 718. It is anticipated that during such a free-play period, the casino will alter the jackpot structure, causing only a selected jackpot to be active. Thus, the lure of free jackpots will bring additional players to the casino floor who will likely continue playing after the free-play period ends. A further benefit of this embodiment is that it would encourage players to become slot club members. This would result in an increase of players who return to the casino and the customer base which the casino markets to through mailings.
  • [0127]
    It is also to be understood that play of the slot machines during the free-play period need not occur as described above. Thus, in an alternate embodiment, the reels 232, 234, 236 of the slot machines 102 continuously spin, regardless of whether a player has inserted a tracking card, with the server 106 periodically signaling a jackpot on a random machine. Only when a player has inserted a player tracking card is the jackpot awarded. The server 106 randomly selects a machine ID number and, if the machine 102 is not being played by a pay-per-play player, the server 106 transmits a signal to that slot machine 102 directing it to produce a winning outcome.
  • [0128]
    In an alternate embodiment that achieves substantially the same result of attracting additional players to the floor during down times, the casino issues guests a player tracking card or a smart card having a predetermined free credit balance associated therewith. The casino could then restrict the day and time in which the players could use the free card in a flat rate play session. In another embodiment, the cards provided to guests contain an indication of time, rather than money, for use during a flat rate play session.
  • [0129]
    Although the foregoing embodiments employ static jackpot structure, which stay the same throughout the flat rate play session, it is within the scope of the present invention to employ dynamic jackpot structures, which change during the flat rate play session. In one such embodiment, the dynamic jackpot structure starts with a given number of active jackpots, as indicated in the pay combination status field 650 of the payout table 228. As the flat rate play session progresses, the number of active jackpots changes. Specifically, as the interval remaining in the flat rate play session decreases, fewer pay combinations are made active. In other words, the slot machine 102 CPU 210 monitors the time and, every fifteen minutes, for example, causes the pay combination status field 650 to change from “active” to “inactive” for a given pay combination 610. Alternatively, the CPU 210 changes the pay combination status field 650 after a predetermined number of plays. In a further variation of this embodiment, individual jackpots may be decreased instead of or in addition to being eliminated (e.g. the jackpot for a particular outcome may decrease from 10 coins to 8 coins as the play session progresses).
  • [0130]
    As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, a dynamic jackpot structure based on the time progression of the flat rate play session can increase the revenue generated by the slot machines 102. Specifically, such a dynamic jackpot structure could be used with a flat rate play session whose duration is not a fixed time, but rather a given number of plays. Because fewer jackpots will be active as time progresses, players have an incentive to use their fixed number of plays within a short time period. Stated succinctly, the present invention increases speed of play.
  • [0131]
    In another embodiment, the jackpot structure is dynamic based not on the progression of the flat rate play session, but rather on the outcomes generated by the slot machine 102. One such embodiment involves changing a particular jackpot from “active” to “inactive” upon a player hitting the outcome corresponding to that pay combination. For example, a player may begin the flat rate play session with all jackpots active. On one play, the slot machine 102 generates a “CHERRY-CHERRY-CHERRY” outcome 610. Upon accessing the payout table 228, the CPU 210 determines that ten coins are to be paid out, credits the player's accumulated credits accordingly, and causes the pay combination status field 650 corresponding to the “CHERRY-CHERRY-CHERRY” outcome 610 to change from “active” to “inactive”. Thus, a player can only hit a given jackpot once. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, such a dynamic jackpot structure will allow slot machine operators to further discount the flat rate price to attract additional players. Furthermore, it is anticipated that players will be willing to forego hitting the same jackpot multiple times because their focus is typically on hitting the highest jackpot once.
  • [0132]
    These and other dynamic jackpot structures may be implemented as either a player selected price parameter or an operator selected price parameter. When implemented as a player selected price parameter, the dynamic jackpot structure is displayed to the player as a player selectable price parameter option. The player, in turn, selects it via the player interface 264. When implemented as an operator selected price parameter, the dynamic jackpot structure is displayed for player viewing prior to player approval of the flat rate price. Whether the price parameters are selected by the player or the casino operator, the dynamic jackpot structure affects the flat rate price generally as described above, namely, as a field in the calculation table 227 or as a variable in the price algorithm.
  • [0133]
    In some embodiments of the present invention, an individual may purchase a flat rate play session as a gift for another person. For example, an individual may purchase one of the available flat rate price packages of FIG. 14. In such an embodiment the individual purchasing a flat rate play session may be provided with a flat rate play session identifier, which the purchase in turn provides to the gift recipient. The flat rate play session identifier may be stored by the casino in association with the price parameters defining the flat rate play session. Thus, when the gift recipient inserts the flat rate play session identifier into a gaming device, the gaming device may communicate with the casino server to determine the parameters of the flat rate play session and set itself to such parameters. A flat rate play session identifier may be provided on, for example, a gift card that is magnetically or optically encoded with the flat rate play session identifier such that it may be read by a gaming device.
  • Contract Embodiment
  • [0134]
    In accordance with some embodiments of the present invention a flat rate play session may be purchased by means of a contract. According to such embodiments a player at a casino may purchase a contract (e.g. from an insurer, such as the casino or another entity) or similar agreement to use a gaming device, such as a slot machine. Costing a fixed amount, the contract insures the player against the possibility of potentially large losses at the slot machine. In accordance with one such embodiment, upon purchasing the contract, a player credit account is set up at the slot machine. The account may begin with zero credits but may begin with another balance in other embodiments. The player is then allowed a fixed number of handle pulls at the slot machine without requiring the player to insert any money. Each handle pull decreases the player account, typically by decreasing the player account by a predetermined amount (e.g. one credit) for each handle pull. This may cause the number of credits to be negative, but play may still continue. If the player achieves a winning outcome, credits can be added to the player account in accordance with the payout for the winning outcome. If, after the fixed number of handle pulls, there are a positive number of credits in the player account, then these may be paid out to the player in the form of cash. If, however, there are less than a predetermined amount of credits (e.g. zero credits) in the player account, then the player receives nothing. The insurer, however, could compensate the casino for, e.g., an amount in the player's account that is less than a predetermined number.
  • [0135]
    In such an embodiment, the player enjoys the fixed number of pulls without the risk of any loss. The only loss for the player comes from the cost of the contract.
  • [0136]
    One aspect of this invention is a way to price a contract for a block of pulls to be sold to a player. Pricing a contract may involve calculating the expected amount that would have to be paid a player upon the completion of the pulls. The price of the contract would then typically be greater than this expected amount so as to result in an expected profit possibly to be divided amongst the casino and, if it is a separate entity, an insurer. For example, if a player could be expected to receive $30 upon the completion of 1000 pulls, then the contract for the block of 1000 pulls could by sold for $35.
  • [0137]
    The following definitions define the terms used to describe the contract embodiments of the present invention:
  • [0138]
    Contract indicator—an object or information by which a gaming device may recognize a contract in order to execute the contract. For example, a player purchases a contract at casino desk and receives a token that serves as a contract indicator. When the player deposits the token in a gaming device, the gaming device recognizes the contract the player has signed up for and executes the contract accordingly.
  • [0139]
    Execute a contract—to carry out the terms of a contract. A gaming device executes a contract for 200 pulls by generating the 200 outcomes, incrementing and decrementing player credits in accordance with the outcomes, and paying the player, if necessary, at the end of the contract.
  • [0140]
    Gambling contract—An agreement between a player, an insurer, and sometimes a casino (e.g. if different than the insurer) with the following exemplary provisions:
      • The player pays the insurer a fixed amount up front.
      • The player must make a predetermined number of handle pulls, no more and no less.
      • The player need not pay any additional money after purchasing the contract.
      • The player keeps any net winnings after all handle pulls have been completed.
      • If the player has a net loss after the handle pulls have been completed, then the loss is paid to the casino by the insurer.
  • [0146]
    There are many variants of these provisions, and additional provisions are possible. As can be seen, the contract insures a player against excessive losses, and may give the player more handle pulls than would otherwise be possible for the price of the contract. Also, since there may be no additional player decisions required after the player has purchased the contract, the player need not be present for the execution of the contract and may therefore experience the feeling of remote gambling.
  • [0147]
    Gaming Device—Any electrical, mechanical, or electromechanical device that accepts wagers, steps through a process to determine an outcome, and pays winnings based on the outcome. The outcome may be randomly generated, as with a slot machine; may be generated through a combination of randomness and player skill, as with video poker; or may be generated entirely through player skill. Gaming devices may include slot machines, video poker machines, video blackjack machines, video roulette machines, video keno machines, video bingo machines, and the like. As described above, in some embodiments, a gaming device may comprise a mobile computing device operable to facilitate such game play.
  • [0148]
    Gross winnings—the total of a player's winnings during the execution of a contract without regard to wagers made by the player. For example, if, after five pulls of a contract, a player has attained one winning outcome with a payout of 4 coins, and one winning outcome with a payout of 20 coins, then the player's gross winnings thus far are 24 coins. Since gross winnings does not account for wagers a player makes, gross winnings will always be larger than or equal to net winnings.
  • [0149]
    Handle pull—a single play at a gaming device, including video poker, video blackjack, video roulette, video keno, video bingo, and other devices. The definition is intended to be flexible in that a single play might constitute a single complete game, or a single wager. For example, in video blackjack, a player might play a single game in which he splits a pair of sevens, requiring an additional wager. This one game might thereby constitute either one or two handle pulls.
  • [0150]
    Net winnings—the total of a player's winnings during the execution of a contract minus the amount spent by the player on wagers. In the example cited under the definition of “gross winnings,” the net winnings are 19 coins since the player has won 24 coins but used one coin as a wager on each of the five pulls.
  • [0151]
    Turning now to a detailed description of the contract embodiments of the present invention, various aspects of such embodiments are set forth below.
  • Description of the Contract
  • [0152]
    A typical contract is an agreement between the insurer and a player. The player agrees to pay a fixed amount of money up front. In return, the player may (or must) gamble at a gaming device for a designated amount of time or for a designated number of outcomes. After the player has gambled the requisite amount, the player has the right to keep any winnings that exceed a certain threshold. The player does not, however, pay any losses. Thus, one function of the contract is to insure the player against losses at a gaming device. There are many variations of the contract and a portion of these are described below.
  • [0153]
    Another function of the contract is to allow a player to play a large number of handle pulls without the need of a large bankroll. For example, a player wishing to make 600 pulls at a quarter slot machine would ordinarily require $150 (25 cents×600) in order to assure himself the ability of completing the 600 pulls. However, a contract might allow a player to make 600 pulls by paying only $20.
  • [0154]
    In some embodiments, the contract does not involve an insurer. The function of the contract may be to allow outcomes to be generated for the player while the player is not physically present at the gaming device. In these embodiments, the contract may consist mainly of instructions from the player as to how the slot machine should gamble on the player's behalf. For example, the instructions will tell the machine how fast to gamble, when to quit, and then where to send winnings.
  • Amount of Play
  • [0155]
    A contract may place one or more of the following exemplary restrictions on play covered by the contract:
      • The player must make a minimum number of handle pulls.
      • The player may not make more than a maximum number of handle pulls.
      • The player must play for a certain minimum time period.
      • The player must play for less than a certain maximum time period.
      • The player must maintain a minimum rate of play.
      • The player may not exceed a maximum rate of play.
      • The total coin in over the course of the contract must exceed a certain minimum amount.
      • The total coin in over the course of the contract must not exceed a certain amount.
      • The player must play until obtaining a specified outcome.
  • Coin Denomination
  • [0165]
    A contract may specify the size of the wager for each pull. The wager size may be the same as that typically used by the gaming device. For example, if a player signs up for a contract at a quarter slot machine, the wager for each pull of the contract might be a quarter. If the slot machine offers multiple coin bets, the wager for each pull might be a quarter, 50 cents, 75 cents etc. The contract may allow or may force the player to vary the wager from pull to pull.
  • [0166]
    One aspect of a contract may allow all play to occur in “credit mode.” That is, the player need not physically insert money into the gaming device prior to each pull, and money needn't come out of the gaming device after a player win. Rather, a player's credit balance may be stored in a player database either in the gaming device or at the casino server. Every time the player then makes a handle pull, credits are deducted from the player's balance. Every time the player wins, credits are added to the player's balance. The player's credit balance can be displayed on the device so that the player may track his progress.
  • [0167]
    Since play may occur in credit mode, each wager might consist of coin denominations that are not standard for the gaming device. For example, a device that typically handles quarters may accept wagers of a nickel, of 40 cents, or even of 12½ cents.
  • Winnings Threshold
  • [0168]
    A contract may describe some threshold of gross winnings, net winnings, or accumulated player credits above which the player keeps any excess. Gross winnings describes the accumulated player wins from each pull of the contract. Thus, a player who makes 600 pulls on a $1 slot machine as part of a contract and wins $3 on each of 100 pulls has gross winnings of $300 ($3/pull×100 pulls). Net winnings are the gross winnings less the accumulated costs of wagering. In the above example, the accumulated costs of wagering are $600 ($1/pull×600 pulls). Thus, in the above example, the player's net winnings would be negative $300 ($300−$600). Accumulated player credits may mirror a running tally of a player's net winnings. For example, a player may begin with zero credits, with credits deducted in the amount of any wager, and added in the amount of any winnings. Accumulated player credits may also mirror a running tally of gross winnings, or any other statistic about a player's performance.
  • [0169]
    At the end of a contract, a player's accumulated credits may be compared to a threshold. The player may then receive a payout of any excess accumulated credits above the threshold. For example, if the threshold is zero, and the player has 44 credits, each credit representing 25 cents, then the player receives a payout of $11 (44 credits×25 cents/credit). If the player had −12 credits, indicating a net loss of 12 credits, then the player receives nothing. The player does not owe $3 because the contract does not make the player responsible for any losses.
  • [0170]
    The threshold might be at 10 credits, in which case a player with accumulated credits of 30 would receive a payout equivalent to 20 credits at the end of a contract, and a player with 6 credits would receive nothing. A threshold might be at −10 credits, in which case a player with accumulated credits of −6 would receive the equivalent of 4 credits, while a player with −100 credits would receive nothing.
  • [0171]
    Rather than insuring against all of a player's losses, a contract might insure all losses up to a point and not beyond. Therefore, a contract may have multiple thresholds, each with different functions. A player may, for example, be responsible for any losses beyond a threshold loss of 100 credits. The same player might receive any winnings beyond a threshold of 10 accumulated credits. Thus, if, at the end of the contract, the player has accumulated −125 credits, then the player must pay 25 credits. If the player has accumulated 33 credits, then the player receives a 23 credit payout. If the player has accumulated −49 credits, then the player neither owes nor receives anything.
  • [0172]
    In some embodiments, a threshold delineates a change in the percentage of a player's winnings or losses between credit tallies above and below the threshold. For example, a player might keep any credits won beyond a threshold of 50. Below 50 credits, the player only keeps 80% of his winnings. Therefore, if a player has 70 credits remaining at the end of a contract, he keeps all 20 credits above 50, and he keeps an additional 40 credits, representing 80% of the first 50 credits. Therefore, the player keeps 60 credits in total.
  • [0173]
    A player may also be responsible for a percentage of losses above or below a certain threshold. For example, a player may be responsible for 50% of losses over 10 credits. Thus, a player who finishes a contract with minus 20 credits owes nothing for the first 10 credits of loss, but owes 5 credits for the next 10 credits of loss. The player therefore owes 5 credits.
  • [0174]
    In the most general sense, a contract specifies a functional relationship between what a player's accumulated credits are at the end of the contracted number of pulls, and what the player either owes or is due. The function may be piece-wise linear, or may be rather non-linear and convoluted.
  • [0175]
    Where there is potential for a player to owe money at the end of a contract, the player may be required to deposit money into the gaming device in advance so as to prevent the player from walking away when he owes money. The advance payment may later be returned if the player turns out to owe nothing at the end of the contract.
  • [0176]
    In many embodiments, a contract is transparent to the casino. In other words, if the player makes a certain number of pulls, the casino makes the same amount of money whether or not the player happened to be involved in a contract. In these embodiments, however, a casino may collect money that it makes (and the player has lost) from the insurer, rather than from the player. The casino may also act as an intermediary in transactions between the player and the insurer. For example, the casino may collect from the player money that is meant to pay for a contract. The casino may then transfer an equivalent amount of money to the insurer.
  • [0177]
    In other embodiments, a contract is not completely transparent to the casino. That is, the amount of money a casino receives after a certain number of the player's handle pulls may depend on whether or not the player was in a contract. In one example, a casino agrees that if a player's accumulated credits at the end of a contract are less than −200, then the casino will only collect 200 credits for the contract's handle pulls. This example may benefit the insurer, since the insurer doesn't have to worry about covering player losses in excess of 200 credits. In another example, the casino configures a gaming device to give different odds to a player in contract play versus a player not in contract play.
  • Player Decisions
  • [0178]
    As mentioned previously, players may have some restrictions on the play covered by the contract. For example, a contract may cover an hour's play at a gaming device, but require the player to make between 600 and 800 pulls in that hour. In some embodiments, however, contracts may allow players to quit early or to play more than is otherwise covered by the contract. For example, a contract might cover an hour's worth of play. After the first half-hour, the player may be ahead by $100 and wish to quit without risking the loss of the $100 in the subsequent half-hour. He may therefore opt to pay $20 in order to be released from the obligation of continuing the contract. He may then collect his $100 in winnings.
  • [0179]
    A player at a gaming device may reach the end of a contract with accumulated credits just short of an amount necessary to collect winnings. However, the last 17 out of 20 pulls may have been wins for the player. The player may feel as if he has some momentum going for him and therefore may not wish that the contract be finished. In some embodiments, the player may extend the contract. For example, the gaming device might prompt the player, saying, “For only $5 more, we'll give you another 200 spins added to your contract.” If the player accepts, then the casino or insurer has made a new sale with potential profitability. In some embodiments, the player may be allowed to extend a contract for free, or may even be paid to extend the contract. For example, the player may have winnings of $100 at the end of a contract. The casino, or insurer, may figure that if the player were to keep pulling, he would be likely to lose some of that $100. So the casino may pay the player $5 to take another 200 pulls.
  • [0180]
    In a related embodiment, a player may carry over the accumulated credits from a first contract to a second contract. Thus, a player with 40 accumulated credits at the end of a first contract may begin a second contract with 40 accumulated credits. The player may pay or be paid for carrying over credits.
  • Price
  • [0181]
    In many embodiments, the player pays a fixed sum to buy the contract. In exchange for that fixed sum, the player can then gamble a significant amount with little or no risk of losses. In many embodiments, the insurer takes the risk of the player's loss. The insurer must therefore price the contract so as to be compensated for the risk it takes. In other embodiments, the casino and the insurer share the profits and losses associated with a contract. To ensure a profit to be divided amongst the two, a contract may be priced in excess of a player's average win. Note that a player's loss would count as zero in figuring out the player's average win, since the player does not have to pay for losses.
  • [0182]
    One method of pricing the contract involves first figuring out what the insurer might expect to pay, on average, to cover a player's losses. Another method of pricing a contract involves first figuring out what the casino/insurer combination might expect to pay, on average, to compensate a player for his winnings. Both methods involve similar computations. Therefore, computations will be described below with respect to only one or the other method of pricing a contract.
  • Exemplary Price Computations
  • [0183]
    1) The insurer obtains the gaming device or a component of the gaming device containing significant information about the operation of the gaming device (e.g. the CPU). The insurer then operates the gaming device as a player would when under contract. For example, if the insurer is to sell contracts for 600 pulls, the insurer would make 600 handle pulls at the gaming device and record the number of accumulated credits at the end of the 600 pulls. The insurer may repeat this process of testing contracts at the device for a large number of trials. The insurer may then average what its payments would be over all the trials. Note that while it might take a player days or years to complete, say, 100,000 contracts at a gaming device; the process may be sped up for the insurer by giving the gaming device special instructions to generate outcomes more rapidly. The performance of large number of trials in the manner described above is often called a Monte-Carlo simulation.
  • [0184]
    The following is an example of pricing a contract. Using the method of pricing described above, an insurer simulates the execution of a 600-pull contract. The insurer repeats the simulation four more times. After the first simulation, the player has won $10. After the second, the player has lost $5. After the third, the player has lost $17. After the fourth, the player has lost $8. After the fifth, the player has won $3. To figure out what the insurer must pay, on average, the insurer adds the three losses to get: $5+$17+$8=$30. The insurer then divides by five, the number of simulations, to get: $30/5=$6. The insurer doesn't care, for the purposes of this calculation, how much the player won when he did win, since the casino is the one paying the player his winnings. Now, in order to obtain an average $4 profit, the insurer might charge $10 for each contract.
  • [0000]
    2) The insurer obtains or creates software that mirrors or models the operation of the gaming device. For example, the software is configured to generate the same outcomes as does the gaming device with the same frequency as the gaming device. For each outcome generated, the software tracks what a player's accumulated credits would be. As before, the insurer may simulate many contracts and average what its payments would be over all the trials.
    3) The insurer mathematically models potential outcomes of one handle pull of the gaming device using a random variable with a probability mass function (PMF) or probability density function (PDF). With these functions, the x-axis may represent potential winnings, such as −$1 or $3, which can occur from a single handle pull. The example of −$1 indicates the player has paid $1 for the pull but has won nothing. The example of $3 indicates that the player has paid $1 for the pull and won $4. The y-axis of these functions represents the probability or probability density of each outcome occurring. The probability of the player getting −$1 on a pull might be 0.8, while the probability of the player getting $3 might be 0.2.
  • [0185]
    A PMF for the number of accumulated credits at the end of a contract can then be created by summing the random variables representing individual handle pulls. If each pull is independent with an identical PMF, as is common with slot machines, then the PMF for the results of the entire contract can be created using repeated convolutions of the PMF's for individual handle pulls. If, for example, 600 pulls are involved, then the PMF for single a handle pull may be convolved with itself 599 times to generate a PMF for the entire contract.
  • [0186]
    Using this resultant PMF, the insurer can easily calculate how much it would expect to pay to cover a player's losses on each contract. If the resultant random variable is denoted by w, and the insurer would by required to pay for any player losses, then the insurer's expected payment is given by Σ−∞ 0 w*probability(w).
  • [0000]
    4) In the method described above, Fourier Transforms, Z transforms, Laplace Transforms, or other transforms can be used to aid in the calculation of the repeated convolutions. Such a use of transforms is well known in the art.
    5) As is well known in the art, with many classes of random variables, repeated summation results in a Gaussian probability distribution. This distribution has the shape of the familiar bell curve. The Gaussian distribution has the advantage of being fully described by only two parameters, a mean and a standard deviation. If a Gaussian probability distribution is used to approximate the sum of a large number of independent, identically distributed random variables, such as those that often describe handle pulls, then the mean and standard deviation of the Gaussian distribution is very easily calculated based on the mean and standard deviation of a random variable describing an individual pull. Such calculations are well known in the art. Thus, a Gaussian distribution can easily be generated to approximate the PMF of a player's accumulated credits at the end of a contract. Using this distribution, the insurer can calculate the amount it would be required to pay, on average, to cover a player's losses. The method of calculation is similar to that described in 3). If a Gaussian PDF is used as an approximation, then an integral sign replaces the summation sign, and “probability” is replaced by “probability density.”
  • [0187]
    The following is an example of using a Gaussian probability density function to approximate the amount a casino would be required to pay, on average to, to compensate a player for his winnings at the end of a contract. The contract may then be priced in excess of this amount to ensure an average profit for the casino/insurer combination. A Gaussian function is given by the formula, f(x)=1/√(2πσ)exp(−(x−μ)2/(2σ2)). In this formula, σ is the standard deviation, and μ is the mean. Now, let us suppose that a single handle pull of a slot machine results in a required payout to the player described by a probability mass function with mean μ0 and standard deviation σ0. Then, assuming each handle pull is independent, n handle pulls of the slot machine may be described by a function with mean μ=μ0n and standard deviation σ=σ0√n. Furthermore, if n is large, then the function describing a casino's aggregate payout after n handle pulls may be approximated by the Gaussian function f(x), whose formula is given above.
  • [0188]
    To calculate what a casino would have to pay to compensate a player for his winnings, on average, we note that the casino pays when the player wins, but receives nothing when a player loses. Therefore, the expected payment of the casino is given by:
  • [0000]

    −∞ 00*f(x)dx+∫ 0 x*f(x)dx=∫ 0 x*f(x)dx.
  • [0000]
    We proceed to solve the integral:
  • [0000]
    0 x f ( x ) x = 0 x 1 / ( 2 π σ ) exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) x = 1 / ( 2 πσ ) 0 x exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) x = 1 / ( 2 πσ ) 0 [ ( x - μ ) exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) + μ exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) ] x = 2 σ 2 / ( 2 πσ ) ( - 1 / 2 ) [ exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) ] 0 + μ 0 1 / ( 2 πσ ) exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) x
  • [0000]
    We deal with the two terms separately:
  • [0000]
    2 σ 2 / ( 2 πσ ) ( - 1 / 2 ) [ exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) ] 0 = - σ 2 / ( 2 πσ ) [ 0 - exp ( - μ 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) ] = σ 2 exp ( - μ 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) / ( 2 πσ ) = n σ 0 2 exp ( - n 2 μ 0 2 / ( 2 n σ 0 2 ) ) / ( 2 π n σ 0 ) = n 3 / 4 σ 0 3 / 2 exp ( - n μ 0 2 / ( 2 σ 0 2 ) ) / ( 2 π ) and μ 0 1 / ( 2 πσ ) exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) x = μ - μ / σ 1 / ( 2 πσ ) exp ( - y 2 / 2 ) σ y ( where y = ( x - μ ) / σ ) = μ σ - μ / σ 1 / ( 2 π ) exp ( - y 2 / 2 ) y = μ σ [ 1 - - - μ / σ 1 / ( 2 π ) exp ( - y 2 / 2 ) y ]
  • [0189]
    The integral is the cumulative distribution function for a zero mean, unit standard deviation Gaussian, for which tables exist. We denote it by N(−μ/σ). Continuing:
  • [0000]
    μ 0 1 / ( 2 πσ ) exp ( - ( x - μ ) 2 / ( 2 σ 2 ) ) x = μ σ [ 1 - N ( - μ / σ ) ] = n μ 0 n 1 / 4 σ 0 [ 1 - N ( - n μ 0 / ( n σ 0 ) ) ] = n 5 / 4 μ 0 σ 0 [ 1 - N ( - n μ 0 / σ 0 ) ]
  • [0190]
    Recombining the two terms we get:
  • [0000]

    0 x*f(x)dx=n 3/4σ0 3/2exp(− 0 2/(2σ0 2)/√(2π)+n 5/4μ0√σ0[1−N(−√ 00)]
  • [0191]
    If we were to graph the above as a function of n, the number of pulls, we would see that initially, as the number of pulls in a contract gets larger, a casino could expect to pay more money to compensate a player for his winnings. However, there would reach a point, beyond which more pulls in a contract would actually decrease the amount a casino could expect to pay to compensate a player for his winnings. This illustrates an important feature of contracts. Having more pulls in a contract is not necessarily an advantage for a player.
  • [0000]
    6) A casino or insurer may start with a first price for a contract, and then evolve the price as more and more of the contracts are purchased and executed. For example, if an insurer loses money on the first few contracts it sells, then it may increase the price of the contract. If the insurer makes large profits on its first few contracts, then it may reduce the price.
  • [0192]
    Once the insurer has determined what it can expect to pay, on average, to cover a player's losses, the insurer may price the contract so as to give itself a desired profit margin. For example, if the insurer can expect to pay, on average, $15 to cover a player's losses, then the insurer might price the contract at $20 to insure itself a $5 average profit.
  • Automatic Play
  • [0193]
    A contract may require certain behaviors of the player. As mentioned, these behaviors may include maintaining a certain rate of play, or performing a minimum number of handle pulls. The gaming device on which a contract is executed may take various steps to ensure that the behaviors are performed. To this end, the gaming device may initiate handle pulls automatically or may fail to register handle pulls that the player attempts to initiate. For example, if the player must make at least one handle pull every 10 seconds, and the player has failed to make any handle pulls in 9 seconds, then the gaming device may automatically initiate a handle pull for the player on the tenth second. As another example, a player may be restricted from making more than one pull every 10 seconds. If in the same 10-second interval, the player attempts to make more than one handle pull, the second handle pull may not be initiated, at least until the next 10-second interval.
  • [0194]
    As can be seen from the above two examples, the player may maintain some control over his gambling behavior even while the gaming device forces him to comply with the contract. So a player who must make a pull every 10 seconds still has control over whether the pull occurs on the first second of an interval or the eighth second of an interval. Such control can be psychologically important, because many players feel that the exact moment at which the handle pull is initiated has an important effect on the ultimate outcome.
  • [0195]
    In some cases, a player may not desire to make any active decisions once a contract has been initiated and may simply put a gaming device into “automatic play.” The player may later have the option of taking the gaming device out of automatic play and of manually initiating handle pulls.
  • Offering the Contract
  • [0196]
    A contract may be offered to a player in a number of ways. A gaming device may use text or synthesized voice to ask a person whether or not he would like to sign up for a contract. A casino attendant may offer a contract to a player, or signs at a casino may point a player towards a casino desk where he may then purchase a contract.
  • [0197]
    A number of circumstances may trigger the casino or an insurer to offer a contract to the player. For example, the player may have lost most of an initial stake deposited into a gaming device. A player may be slowing his play, or may no longer be inserting coins into the machine. The time of day may be a player's typical lunch time or departure time. A player may have the opportunity to enter into a contract only if he also agrees to do business with a particular merchant or group of merchants. The player may have the opportunity to enter into a contract if the casino or insurer deems him a good, valuable, or loyal customer.
  • Agreeing to the Contract
  • [0198]
    A player may specify a desired contract in a number of ways. At a gaming device, a player may use a touch screen to indicate his desire to enter into a specific contract. Using the touch screen, the player may select from a menu of possible contracts. For example, the menu might list several contracts with different time durations or different prices. The player could then select a contract by touching an area of the screen next to his desired contract.
  • [0199]
    The player might use menus to customize a contract for himself. The player might use a first menu to select a duration of the contract (e.g. 600 pulls, or ½ hour). A second menu might be used to select a rate of play. A third menu might be used for coin denomination. Many other menus are possible for other contract features. Once the player has selected several contract features, the gaming device may select the remaining feature so as to make the contract profitable for the insurer. For example, once the player has chosen a number of pulls and a coin denomination, the gaming device might choose the price of the contract.
  • [0200]
    Rather than a touch screen, a player may use special buttons, keys, or voice input to specify a desired contract or contract terms.
  • [0201]
    In some embodiments, a player chooses a contract prior to approaching the gaming device or even the casino. A player might select a contract on the Internet. On the Internet, the player might specify terms of the contract, such as the number of pulls, the rate of play, the cost, the payout tables, the winning symbol combinations, etc. The player may then print out a code or a document describing the terms of the contract. The player then brings the code or document to a gaming device that then recognizes what contract the player has chosen. When the player signs up for a contract, a description of the contract might be sent electronically directly to the gaming device. The player might then only identify himself at the gaming device in order to initiate contract play.
  • [0202]
    Other terms of a contract a player may agree to or specify include: the font size of the machine, the noise level of the machine's sound effects, the particular game (e.g. number of reels, number of pay lines), the brightness of the display, etc.
  • Signature
  • [0203]
    To confirm entry into a contract, a player might sign a document that may contain the terms of the contract. The document may be printed from a gaming device or from the Internet, or may be obtained from a counter at a casino. The signed document may then be deposited into an opening in the gaming device, may be returned to a casino counter, or may be kept by the player. The player might also sign an area on a touch screen or other sensing device.
  • [0204]
    A player might also confirm entry into a contract simply by paying for it. The player might pay be depositing tokens, coins or other currency into the gaming device. The player might pay using a credit or debit card. The player might also pay from a player credit account established with the casino. The player might pay at a counter of the casino and might receive a contract or a contract indicator to bring to a gaming device. The gaming device might then recognize the contract indicator by, for example, a bar code, and then execute the contract.
  • Instruction Sets
  • [0205]
    A typical contract may cover and/or require a large number of handle pulls by the player. Now ordinarily, when a player is gambling at a gaming device for a long period of time, the player makes a number of decisions related to his gambling. Should the player play more quickly or more slowly? Should the player double his bet after a loss? Should the player quit after a sizable win? Should the player take a short break to use the restroom?
  • [0206]
    Since the contract covers a large number of pulls, it is possible for the some player decisions to be made beforehand and included in the contract. A gaming device may then act on the decisions specified in the contract without further input from the player. For example, while negotiating a contract for an hour of play at 10 pulls per minute, a player might decide he'd like a 15 minute break between the first ½ hour and the second ½ hour of pulls. The gaming device might then execute the contract for the first half hour by automatically spinning and generating outcomes for the first ½ hour. The gaming device might then freeze for 15 minutes, preventing other players from stepping in and allowing the contract holding player to take his 15 minute break. The device can then unlock after 15 minutes, perhaps with the entry of a password, and resume the generation of outcomes.
  • [0207]
    One important aspect of having a player's decisions spelled out before hand in the contract is that the player need not even be present at the gaming device. A player can sign up for a contract at a casino in Las Vegas, and then have the contract executed automatically by a gaming device. The player can then view a running tally of his accumulated credits over the Internet while in Virginia, for example.
  • [0208]
    In general, player instructions built into a contract will include some action to be performed as well as some triggering condition for the action. As an example, a player instruction may be to increase the rate of handle pulls provided accumulated player credits exceed 100. In this example, the action is to increase the rate of handle pulls, and the triggering condition is whether accumulated player credits exceed 100. The following player actions may be part of a player's instructions:
      • Increase or decrease a wager amount on one or more handle pulls.
      • Increase or decrease a rate of wagering.
      • Cease gambling.
      • Change the way outcomes are displayed.
  • [0213]
    The following conditions may trigger the above actions
      • The player has just won or lost on one or more handle pulls.
      • The player has just won a certain amount on one or more handle pulls.
      • Any player defined sequence of wins and losses has occurred on prior handle pulls.
      • The player has approached or left the vicinity of the gaming device.
      • The current time has reached a particular time of day.
  • [0219]
    One advantage of contracts executed by the gaming device is that a gaming device can gamble at speeds a human is incapable of achieving. For example a player is on a winning streak, but must soon join his family for lunch. Rather than cash out and leave, he decides to accelerate his play to 2 pulls per second. He therefore enters a into a contract which is to be executed by the machine at 2 pulls per second for the next 8 minutes. In this contract, an insurer is not involved. The contract simply serves as a means of increasing the rate of play. As it happens, the player loses all his money in 6 minutes, and so the contract ends.
  • [0220]
    Player instructions may tell the slot machine to play faster when the player is present or is observing in some way, and to play more slowly while the player is asleep. For example, the rate of pulls may be twice as fast during the day as at night. The rate of play may likewise be faster when an infrared detector in the slot machine senses the heat of the player's presence.
  • [0221]
    Player instructions may also tell a gaming device how to play certain games involving player decisions. For example, a player may leave instructions to use basic strategy in a game of video blackjack, or to play according to published theory in a game of video poker. The player may add instructions to always draw to a four card open-ended straight flush.
  • Times of Execution
  • [0222]
    A contract may be executed over a range of different time periods. The outcomes, the accumulated player credits, and the player winnings may or may not be displayed to the player at the same time at which the outcomes are being generated.
  • [0223]
    In one embodiment, all the outcomes needed for a contract are generated very rapidly by a gaming device, perhaps all in less than a second. The outcomes may then be displayed to the player over a much longer time frame so as to give the player a more exciting gaming experience.
  • [0224]
    In another embodiment, outcomes may be continuously generated at a rate comparable to that with which a player might make handle pulls on his own. This embodiment might be entertaining for a player if the player is sitting at the gaming device or watching the outcomes being generated from a home computer.
  • [0225]
    In another embodiment, outcomes are generated on a periodic basis at fixed times every day, week, hour, etc. For example, outcomes for a 600-pull contract may be generated 100 outcomes at a time, each block being generated from 8 pm-9 pm on Sunday. Thus, it would take just under six weeks for the entire contract to be executed. This method of execution may be ideal if a player has a schedule as to when he enjoys watching outcomes being generated. For example, the player might enjoy seeing outcomes generated while he watches his favorite show on Sundays from 8 pm to 9 pm. This method of execution might also be ideal for the casino if slow business periods occur on a periodic basis where the entire contract cannot be executed in a single period.
  • [0226]
    In still another embodiment, outcomes are generated on a flexible basis, either when it is convenient for the casino or for the player. In this embodiment, the casino may wait for a gaming device to be free of use before using it to generate the next couple of outcomes of a contract. Alternatively, the player may signal the gaming device any time he is ready to have the next few outcomes generated
  • Viewing the Contract's Execution
  • [0227]
    As discussed, a player may enjoy watching from a remote location as the outcomes of his contracts are generated. Since the player is not physically at the slot machine, the outcomes must be presented to the player via some graphical representation. In one embodiment, a camera simply films the gaming device generating the player's outcomes. The image from the camera is transmitted to the player device via the Internet, the cable system, satellite, etc. The player device might be, for example, a TV or a personal computer. In another embodiment, the generated outcomes are recorded either by the gaming device, by a camera watching the device, or by a casino employee. The generation of the outcomes is then graphically recreated for the player in a manner not necessarily consistent with the physical appearance of the gaming device that generated the outcomes. For example, a gaming device generates the outcome: cherry-orange-lemon. The gaming device then transmits, via the casino server and the Internet, a bit sequence indicating the outcomes cherry-orange-lemon. Perhaps the bits “0000” represent cherry, “0011” represent orange, and “1111” represent lemon. The bit sequence is transmitted to a player's home computer, where a software program displays a cartoon representation of a slot machine. The cartoon shows the reels spinning and stopping with the outcome: cherry-orange-lemon. The cartoon representation of the slot machine may not look anything like the slot machine that originally generated the outcomes. In some embodiments, a player views a combination of the actual image of his gaming device, and a computer-rendered version of a gaming device. For example, a cartoon of the reels spinning might be displayed within the frame of an actual image of the slot machine, without the reels.
  • [0228]
    In some embodiments, the player does not view a graphical representation of the outcomes, but sees the outcomes as text, such as “seven-bar-bar,” “s-b-b,” “7-b-b,” etc. The player may not even see the outcomes, just how much he has won or lost on every pull. Thus, the player may view a periodically updated tally of his accumulated credits. He may only view his total accumulated credits, or his take home winnings, after all outcomes have been generated.
  • [0229]
    Any graphical or textual representation of the player's outcomes, accumulated credits, or other contract information may be displayed either on an entire portion of a computer or TV screen, or on a smaller portion of the screen. For example, a small cartoon slot machine may reside in a box in the upper right hand corner of a TV screen that simultaneously displays a regular TV show. A player watching television need then only glance up at the corner of his screen to follow the progress of his contract. Representation of outcomes may also be place in an email message to the player.
  • [0230]
    Of course, the various representations of outcomes may be used just as well with a player physically present at the gaming device or at the casino.
  • [0231]
    In some embodiments, the player calls up a number to monitor the progress of his contract. He may enter a code or password when prompted by a voice response unit (VRU) and thereby access the outcomes from his particular contract.
  • [0232]
    A player may be sent updates on his contract only when certain triggering conditions are met. For example, a player may only wish for updates when he wins more than 100 credits on a spin, or when the contract terminates.
  • Revenue Management
  • [0233]
    As discussed previously, the pricing of a contract will often take into account the expected amount an insurer must pay to a casino to cover a player's losses, or the expected amount that a casino and insurer in combination can expect to pay to compensate the player for his winnings. Pricing of contracts may account for additional factors such as, for example:
      • Times or dates on which the contract is to be executed.
      • The gaming device on which the contract is to be executed
      • Flexibility in the contract's execution.
      • A player's playing history.
      • The importance of the player as a customer of the casino.
  • [0239]
    For example, a contract which is to be executed during a period of low customer activity at a casino may be priced at a discount. This is because a casino would like to encourage the use of gaming devices that are otherwise empty. Alternatively, a casino may want to discourage the purchase of contracts during times of high customer traffic, and so contracts may be higher priced at such times.
  • [0240]
    If a contract has flexibility as to when it may be executed, then this allows the casino to execute contracts only during times when gaming devices would not otherwise be in use. Therefore, such a contract might be priced more favorably.
  • [0241]
    A contract that is executed at an unpopular gaming device, for example, might be priced more favorably for the player so as to encourage the use of that device.
  • [0242]
    If a player shows signs of nearing the end of his gambling session, a contract might be priced at a discount for that player. For example, a player might be slowing his rate of play, indicating boredom. A player might be lowering his wager size, indicating a decreasing bankroll. A player might simply have been at a gaming device for such a long time that he would almost necessarily be hungry enough to leave at any moment. Providing a discount on a contract to such players would encourage them to remain gambling for at least the time it takes to execute the contract.
  • Settlement
  • [0243]
    In some embodiments, the casino acts as the intermediary in transactions between a player and the insurer. The casino is an intermediary, for example, when its gaming devices collect a player's payment for a contract, even though that payment is meant to go to the insurer. The casino is also an intermediary when it does not collect losses from a player, but from an insurer.
  • [0244]
    Since the casino may engage in many transactions with the insurer, it would potentially be inefficient for the casino to transfer money to the insurer, or vice versa, after every transaction. Therefore, the casino or the insurer may maintain records of how much one owes the other. The casino and the insurer may then settle their accounts periodically. If the casino owes the insurer money, then the casino may wire money to the insurer. If the insurer owes the casino, then the insurer may wire money. Of course, many other methods of settlement are possible.
  • [0245]
    In cases where a contract has resulted in a net win for the player, the player must be paid. If the player is at the casino, he may enter into a gaming device a password or other identifier of himself or of his contract. The gaming device may then access a database in the casino server containing the details of the contract, including the amount owed to the player. The gaming device may then payout the amount owed in the form of cash, tokens, paper receipts or vouchers, digital cash, digital receipts, etc. The player may also collect his winnings at a casino desk, perhaps after presenting identification.
  • [0246]
    If a player is remote from a casino when his contract has finished executing, then the player may be sent his winnings either by the insurer or the casino. If the insurer provides the winnings, then the casino may later reimburse the insurer in the amount of the winnings. The winnings may be sent in the form of cash, check, money order, etc. The winnings may be sent by postal mail, by wire transfer, by direct deposit, by email as digital cash, etc.
  • [0247]
    In some embodiments, the casino may simply keep the player's winnings in a player account at a casino, to be accessed by the player next time he visits the casino. The winnings may, in the mean time, accumulate interest. The casino (or insurer) may also alert the player that his contract has finished executing and that he has winnings. The player may be instructed to come to the casino and pick them up.
  • [0248]
    In some embodiments, the player may have left instructions to take any winnings from a first contract and purchase a second contract. This allows for the notion of a meta-contract. Just as a contract may specify how to allocate money for pulls, a meta-contract would describe how to allocate money for contracts. There could then be meta-meta-contracts, and so on.
  • [0249]
    Numerous variations on the above-described contract embodiments of the present invention may be practiced without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, a player may be halfway through a contract and have negative 200 accumulated credits. The player might therefore lose all hope of winning enough to overcome the 200-credit deficit, and so lose interest in the contract. Therefore, in one embodiment, a player who is well below a threshold number of accumulated credits for winning may play for an altered pay table. Low paying outcomes may be eliminated, while the likelihood of achieving high paying outcomes may increase. This is because a player with a 200-credit deficit probably doesn't care about a win of ten credits, but does care about a win of 500 credits. The overall hold percentage of the machine may remain constant. In some embodiments, the alteration of the pay tables is an automatic function of the number of pulls remaining and the credit deficit of the player. In other embodiments, the player must request an alteration of the pay tables. As an example, a player may select an option that says, “Let me play just for the jackpot. Eliminate everything else and make the jackpot more likely.” The player may or may not have to pay for an alteration of the pay tables. In a more general sense, the pay tables may change such that the standard deviation of the payout for a particular handle pull changes even as hold percentage may remain constant.
  • [0250]
    In another embodiment, a player might purchase a contract at a casino desk and receive a token that indicates the type of contract. The player might then deposit the token into a gaming device. The gaming device would then recognize the token and be able to execute the contract.
  • [0251]
    A player may have the privilege of entering into favorable contracts after a fixed amount of initial betting. For example, if the player wagers for an hour, he may be able to enter into a contract where each pull is at true odds. That is each pull pays back, on average, the same amount that was put in. Typically the pull pays back less. In yet another embodiment, a player may receive better odds on contract play when he is recommended to the casino by a friend.
  • [0252]
    In some embodiments, certain results of a pull may terminate a contract early. For example, if a player hits the jackpot, the contract may terminate. In other embodiments a player's accumulated credits can be displayed to a player as a function of time in the form of a graph. The graph may look much like graphs used to plot the price of a stock market index as a function of time. In some embodiments, a player wins money or some other prize if the graph takes on a certain shape. For example, if the line of the graph is such that it slips between several sets of markers (much like a skier on a slalom course), then the player may win a large prize.
  • [0253]
    In some embodiments, a player's winnings on each pull of the contract are reinvested into the contract, whereas in other embodiments they are not. In one example, a player purchases a contract for $100. The player instructs the gaming device to gamble the $100 until it is all gone. However, any winnings are not to be used to gamble, they are to be sent directly to the player. In a second example, the player purchases a contract for $100 and instructs the gaming device to gamble the $100 until it is gone or until it has become $200. Here, the player elects to reinvest winnings, using the winnings to pay for new handle pulls even after $100 worth of handle pulls has been made already.
  • [0254]
    A contract may reward a player based on any second order data, or meta-data about one or more outcomes. Examples include rewarding the player if three like outcomes occur in a row, if 20 cherries come up in 10 sequential spins, if the players accumulated credits ever reach 100, etc. An example previously mentioned is rewarding a player based on the pattern of a graph of accumulated winnings as a function of time. A player might choose the “meta-outcomes” on which he desires to be rewarded, and the gaming device may figure the corresponding odds and the size of the reward should the meta-outcome occur.
  • [0255]
    A player may be rewarded with the downside of a sequence of outcomes much as buying insurance gives him the upside. For example, a player pays a fixed sum of money, and collects winnings for every dollar in the negative the contract finishes at. Thus, if a contract ends with the player having minus 20 accumulated credits, then the player collects 20 credits.
  • [0256]
    A contract may apply to a “best 100” sequence of a larger sequence of pulls. For example, the player pays $100 for a contract of 1000 pulls. From those 1000 pulls, the player gets to choose any 100 consecutive outcomes to determine his winnings, and can disregard the rest of the outcomes. Thus the player can say he wants to use outcomes 506 through 605. Perhaps there was a hot streak during that sequence. The player's winnings are then determined solely based on what happened between pulls 506 and 605. This might result in winnings of $200, whereas having counted all 1000 pulls would have resulted in a net loss for the player. Of course, the gaming device may automatically choose the most favorable sequence for the player.
  • [0257]
    A player may choose his favorite outcome and receive higher payouts for that outcome, special privileges for receiving that outcome (e.g. the ability to terminate a contract), etc.
  • [0258]
    Returning now to the figures, FIG. 16 is a schematic representation of an embodiment of a system configured to carry out the contract embodiments described above. The system 1600 comprises a casino server 1605 in communication with insurer device 1610, a gaming device 1615, and a player device 1620. As used herein, a device (including the casino server 1605, the insurer device 1610, the gaming device 1615 and/or the player device 1620) may communicate, for example, through a communication network such as a Local Area Network (LAN), a Wide Area Network (WAN), a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), a proprietary network, a Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) network, or an Internet Protocol (IP) network such as the Internet, an intranet or an extranet. Moreover, as used herein, a communication network includes those enabled by wired or wireless (e.g., WiFi, Bluetooth™, GPS, RFID, etc.) technology.
  • [0259]
    It should be understood that any number of gaming devices and any number of player devices can be used in system 1600. Although system 1600 includes both a casino server 1605 and an insurer device 1610 as illustrated, one or the other of these elements may be omitted (for example, the insurer device may be omitted in embodiments that do not include an insurer or where the casino acts as the insurer). Similarly, although system 1600 includes both a gaming device 1615 and a player device 1620 as illustrated, one or more of these embodiments may be omitted (for example, the player device may be omitted if the casino has not implemented remote gaming). Further, some or all of the functionality of a casino server 1605 may be carried out by insurer device 1610 and vice versa. Similarly, some or all of the functionality of casino server 1605 and/or insurer device 1610 may be carried out by gaming device 1615 and vice versa. In one embodiment, the casino server 1605 comprises one or more computers that are connected to a remote database server.
  • [0260]
    Turning now to FIG. 17, therein depicted is schematic illustration of a casino server 1605. Casino server 1605 is an illustration of an embodiment of the casino server of the same number in FIG. 16. Casino server 1605 comprises a processor 1705 in communication with a communications port 1710 and storage device 1715. Contained in storage device 1715 is a program 1720, a player database 1725, a gaming device database 1725, and a contracts database 1730. Each of these databases will be described in detail below. The processor 1705 performs instructions of the program 1720, and thereby operates in accordance with the present invention. The program 1720 may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled and/or encrypted format. The program 1720 furthermore includes program elements that may be necessary, such as an operating system, a database management system, and “device drivers” used by the processor 210 to interface with peripheral devices. Appropriate program elements are known to those skilled in the art. Note that the processor 1705 and the storage device 1715 may be, for example, located entirely within a single computer or other computing device or located in separate devices coupled through a communication channel.
  • [0261]
    Turning now to FIG. 18, therein depicted is a schematic illustration of an insurer device 1610. Insurer device 1610 is an illustration of an embodiment of the insurer device 1610 of the same number in FIG. 16. Insurer device comprises a processor 1805 in communication with a communications port 1810 and a storage device 1815. Storage device 1815 stores a program 1820. The processor 1805 performs instructions of the program 1820, and thereby operates in accordance with the present invention. The program 1820 may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled and/or encrypted format. The program 1820 furthermore includes program elements that may be necessary, such as an operating system, a database management system, and “device drivers” used by the processor 1805 to interface with peripheral devices. Appropriate program elements are known to those skilled in the art. Note that the processor 1805 and the storage device 1815 may be, for example, located entirely within a single computer or other computing device or located in separate devices coupled through a communication channel.
  • [0262]
    Turning now to FIG. 19, therein depicted is a schematic illustration of a gaming device 1615. Gaming device 1615 is an illustration of an embodiment of the gaming device of the same number depicted in FIG. 16. Gaming device 1615 comprises a processor 1905 in communication with a communications port 1910, an input device 1915, an output device 1920, and a storage device 1925. Storage device 1925 stores a program 1930. The processor 1905 performs instructions of the program 1930, and thereby operates in accordance with the present invention. The program 1930 may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled and/or encrypted format. The program 1930 furthermore includes program elements that may be necessary, such as an operating system, a database management system, and “device drivers” used by the processor 1905 to interface with peripheral devices. Appropriate program elements are known to those skilled in the art. Note that the processor 1905 and the storage device 1925 may be, for example, located entirely within a single computer or other computing device or located in separate devices coupled through a communication channel.
  • [0263]
    Input device 1915 may comprise, for example, a player slot card interface, a keypad, a touch-screen, a microphone and/or any other device which allows a player to input information into gaming device 1615. Output device 1920 may comprise, for example, a display area, a microphone, and/or any other device that allows gaming device 1615 to output information to a player. Gaming device 1615 may comprise, for example, a slot machine, video poker machine, video keno machine, or a video blackjack machine. A combination of these type of machines may be used in embodiments where casino server 1605 is in communication with more than one gaming device 1615.
  • [0264]
    Turning now to FIG. 20, therein depicted is a schematic illustration of a player device 1620. Player device 1620 is an illustration of an embodiment of the player device of the same number depicted in FIG. 16. Player device 1620 may be, for example, a personal computer (PC), laptop, personal digital assistant, a cellular telephone, a pager, and/or any other device that allows a player to remotely monitor and participate in play of a gaming device in accordance with the present invention. Player device 1620 comprises a processor 2005 in communication with a communications port 2010 and a storage device 2015. Storage device 2015 stores a program 2020. The processor 2005 performs instructions of the program 2020, and thereby operates in accordance with the present invention. The program 2020 may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled and/or encrypted format. The program 2020 furthermore includes program elements that may be necessary, such as an operating system, a database management system, and “device drivers” used by the processor 2005 to interface with peripheral devices. Appropriate program elements are known to those skilled in the art. Note that the processor 2005 and the storage device 2015 may be, for example, located entirely within a single computer or other computing device or located in separate devices coupled through a communication channel.
  • [0265]
    It should be noted that any and all of the processors 1705, 1805, 1905, and 2005 may comprise one or more microprocessors such as one or more INTEL® Pentium® processors. Further, any and all of the storage devices 1720, 1815, 1925, and 2015 may comprise any appropriate storage device, including combinations of magnetic storage devices (e.g., magnetic tape and hard disk drives), optical storage devices and semiconductor memory devices, such as Random Access Memory (RAM) devices and Read Only Memory (ROM) devices.
  • [0266]
    Examples of databases that may be used in connection with the system 1600 will now be described in detail with respect to FIGS. 21 through 23. Each figure depicts a database in which the data is organized according to a data structure in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The data may be stored, for example, on a computer readable medium and be accessible by a program executed on a data processing system. The schematic illustrations and accompanying descriptions of the databases presented herein are exemplary, and any number of other database arrangements could be employed besides those suggested by the figures.
  • Player Database
  • [0267]
    Referring to FIG. 21, a table represents one embodiment of the player database 1720 that may be stored at the casino server 1605 shown in FIG. 16 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The table includes entries identifying players that may be participating in contracts for flat rate play sessions with system 1600. The table also defines fields 2105, 2110, 2115, 2120, 2125, 2130, and 2135 for each of the entries. The fields specify (i) a player identifier 2105 that uniquely identifies a player; (ii) a name 2110 associated with the player; (iii) an address 2115 that facilitates communications with the player; (iv) a financial account identifier 2120, such as a credit or debit card account, associated with the player through which payment may be obtained and to which player winnings may be credited; (v) demographic information 2125 that may be utilized to determine a price or other terms for a contract; (vi) credits 2130 that represent the amount of casino credits associated with the player; and (vii) a lifetime coin in 2135 that represents the amount of coin in wagered by the player over the course of his or her relationship with the casino and/or insurer.
  • Gaming Device Database
  • [0268]
    Referring to FIG. 22, a table represents one embodiment of the gaming device database 1725 that may be stored at the casino server 1605 shown in FIG. 16 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The table includes entries identifying gaming devices operated by the casino. The table also defines fields 2205, 2210, and 2215 for each of the entries. The fields specify a (i) a gaming device identifier 2205 that identifies a gaming device; (ii) a name 2210 associated with the gaming devices, such as, for example, Diamond Mine®; and (iii) a manufacturer 2215 of the gaming device.
  • Contract Database
  • [0269]
    Referring to FIG. 23, a table represents one embodiment of the contract database 1730 that may be stored at the casino server 1605 shown in FIG. 16 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The table includes entries identifying contracts that may or have been purchased via the system 1600. The table also defines fields 2305, 2310, 2315, 2320, 2325, 2330, 2335, 2340, and 2345 for each of the entries. The fields specify (i) a contract identifier 2305 that identifies a contract that has been purchased or is available for purchase by a player; (ii) a player identifier 2310 that identifies a player, if any, that may be associated with the contract; (iii) an initial bankroll 2315; (iv) a description 2320 that describes the terms of the contract; (v) a cost 2325 of the contract; (vi) a result 2330 that indicates the current status of the contract; (vii) an amount owed the player 2335; (viii) an amount owed the insurer 2340; and (ix) a total amount owed the insurer 2345.
  • [0270]
    A method that may be used in connection with the system 1600 according to an embodiment of the present invention will now be described in detail with respect to FIG. 24. The method shown in FIG. 24 may be performed, for example, by a casino server 1605 in response to a player's request to purchase a contract and after determining the price and terms of the contract the player wishes to purchase. This flow chart does not imply a fixed order to the steps, and embodiments of the present invention may be practiced in other orders.
  • [0271]
    The method 2400 begins upon receipt of payment from a player for a fixed number of pulls in step 2405. In other embodiments this step may comprise receipt of payment for a fixed duration of time during which the player may play. Receipt of payment may comprise, for example, receipt of a monetary input into a gaming device 1615 or receipt of (and, e.g. approval of a charge on) a financial account identifier. The received payment, or an indication of it, is then transmitted to an insurer in step 2410. Outcomes are then generated for a fixed number of pulls in step 2415. An adjustment of a tally of the player's accumulated credits based on the outcomes is performed in step 2420.
  • [0272]
    In step 2425 it is determined whether the adjusted tally exceeds a predetermined threshold. If it does, the method 2400 proceeds to step 2435 where the player is paid the amount by which the tally exceeds the threshold. Payment to the player may be achieved by, for example, outputting a monetary amount comprising the payment to the player at the gaming device or by crediting the amount of the payment to a financial account identifier associated with the player. If it is determined in step 2425 that the adjusted tally does not exceed the predetermined threshold then the method 2400 proceeds to step 2430 in which the amount by which the tally falls short of the threshold is collected from the insurer.
  • Additional Description of Some Embodiments Session “Meta-Bets”
  • [0273]
    In some embodiments, a player may be allowed to play a “meta-bet” on the results of a gaming session. For example, a player may wager that his gaming session concludes with a credit balance of less than 20. Players may also bet on other attributes besides an anticipated credit balance, such as an anticipated win/loss ratio, anticipated number of outcomes of a particular type (e.g., wins or losses), etc.
  • [0274]
    Players may place such meta-bets at any time before or during a session. For example, a player may bet at the outset of a session that his final credit balance will be lower than zero. In another example, a player may bet while in the middle of his session that his overall percentage of winning outcomes will be higher than 60% at the session's end. Additionally, rather than bet that a certain attribute will be true at the end of a session, a player may bet that a certain attribute is true by a point midway through a session (e.g., “I won't hit any Four-of-a-Kinds before completing 100 of 200 video poker hands in this session”).
  • [0275]
    In some embodiments a player may be offered one or more meta-bets. For example, a menu of possible meta-bets may be presented to a player upon the player purchasing a session.
  • [0276]
    The cost of offering such meta-bets may then change depending on when the player places a bet (e.g., how many spins/hands or how much time remains), his current credit balance, his current win percentage, etc. Thus, it is contemplated that the cost (and thereby a profitable payout ratio) in association with various types of such meta-bets may be dynamically determined in some embodiments, depending on the implicated parameters. In some embodiments, players may only be allowed to place such meta-bets at certain phases, and/or when certain session attributes are known to be true, such that the computational requirements of pricing such bets may be alleviated or avoided altogether (e.g., before the session starts, the player can select from a menu of three types of predetermined “Hedge My Session” meta-bets).
  • [0277]
    Thus, such meta-bets may provide players with a manner of “hedging” against flat rate play sessions with streaks of poor results (e.g., midway through a session that is going poorly, a player can place a small bet that he'll finish with a credit balance beneath a particular threshold, and thus at least win some of his flat prepayment back). Conversely, a player who is “ahead” in the middle of a session might “lock in” some winnings by placing such a meta-bet (e.g., a player is up 75 credits, and bets $5 he finishes with at least 25; the player must then complete the session to redeem the meta-bet).
  • Intra-Session “Side Switching”
  • [0278]
    In some embodiments, a player may be allowed to “switch sides” and play against a reverse paytable that rewards players for traditionally losing outcomes (e.g., Blank-Blank-Blank), though does not pay for traditionally winning outcomes (e.g., Bar-Bar-Bar). Such a reverse payout mode, including manners in which a player may access such a reverse payout mode and play using the mode, is described at length in Applicant's U.S. Pat. No. 6,113,492, filed Jun. 30, 1997 and entitled A GAMING DEVICE FOR OPERATING IN A REVERSE PAYOUT MODE AND A METHOD OF OPERATING SAME; U.S. application Ser. No. 10/420,037, filed Apr. 21, 2003 and entitled SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR FACILITATING PLAY USING REVERSED PAYOUT TABLES; and co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 10/788,124, filed Feb. 26, 2004 and entitled METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR REPRESENTING PLAY IN A REVERSE MODE; these documents are hereby incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • [0279]
    In some embodiments, switching to a reverse pay table may occur during the middle of a flat rate gaming session (e.g., pre-paid session of 150 video poker hands in which the player's credit balance starts at zero and is allowed to go negative thereafter as wagers are placed). Additionally, in some embodiments, switching to a paytable may represent a good strategy for increasing payout volatility in the middle of a player's session. In some embodiments, a player may elect to switch to a reverse payout mode. In other embodiments, a switch to a payout mode may be implemented based on a qualifying criteria (other than a player selection of such) or randomly.
  • Alternate Payout Schemes for Session Play
  • [0280]
    In some embodiments, a player finishing a flat rate session with a particular credit balance may not receive payment equal to that balance, but some other amount.
  • [0281]
    For example, the player's final credit balance may be compared to a secondary table that correlates credit balances (or ranges of credit balances) with payout amounts. Such an intra-session balance of credit might then be termed a “points” balance, or otherwise denoted so as to distinguish it from credits which a player may then be paid. For example, a final session “point” balance between 100 and 109 may correlate to a payout of 25 credits, whereas a final session “point” balance between 110 and 119 may correlate to a payout of 30 credits. Such a payout structure might be termed “tournament-style” flat rate play.
  • [0282]
    Of course, other attributes of the player's session (number of outcomes of a particular type, percentage of outcomes of a particular type, etc.) may similarly be utilized to determine a payout. For example, in some embodiments a player may qualify for a bonus amount based on the attributes of the player's session (e.g., win a free dinner at a restaurant, ten (10) extra credits or 50% off your next session if at least 50% of the spins during your session were not winning spins).
  • [0000]
    Examples of Flat Rate Play with Various Games
  • [0283]
    As described above, a gaming device of the present invention may facilitate flat rate play of various gambling games, such as slots, video poker, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, keno, bingo, and so on. Various examples of slot and video poker game were described in detail in the parent applications. Below are examples of session for other types of electronic wagering games.
  • [0284]
    For example, a gaming device may facilitate flat rate play of a video blackjack game. In one example, a player may purchase 30 hands of Blackjack for a flat price of either $4 or $20. In the $4 session, the player may be provided with $30 starting balance (of money available for wagering during the session; e.g., as in $30 in starting chips) and be limited to a $1 max bet. Such a session may have an associated cost, for example, of $1.92 (this may be thought of as the casino's “contract cost” of providing the session to a player; in other words, on average, the house expects to pay out $1.92 to each player of sessions of this type). In the $20 session, the player may be provided with a $150 starting balance and the max bet may be increased to $5. Such a session may have an associated cost, for example, of $9.59.
  • [0285]
    In one embodiment, a player of a video blackjack session may be provided with tokens or other indicators, to be used when betting on each hand of a session and to aid in counting down the hands remaining in a session. For example, in some embodiments, for either the $20 session or the $4 session a player may be allowed to play either one or two such tokens on any given hand. Thus, playing one token on each hand will ensure the player the full 30 hands but no more. Playing two tokens at a time may give the player fewer or more hands since the player will not lose the tokens on a win. The utilization of tokens, lammers or other indicators to track the number of hands remaining in a table version of a blackjack session is described thoroughly in U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/012,230, filed Dec. 7, 2007 and entitled BLACKJACK SESSION PLAY//TABLE GAME SESSION PLAY. Many of these manners of using tokens or lammers to track the number of hands remaining in a session may be applied to the video blackjack session described herein. Accordingly, the use of tokens or lammers from U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/012,230 is incorporated by reference herein.
  • [0286]
    In other embodiments, the number of hands may be fixed (e.g., at 30 hands for either of the above sessions) and counted down as new cards for each hand are dealt, without use of such tokens (e.g., a “number of hands remaining” meter may be used to count down the hands from 30 to 0 as the player bets on each hand).
  • [0287]
    Of course, higher priced video blackjack sessions may be used as well. For example, a player may be offered a 100 hand video blackjack session for $20, $75 or $200. The $20 session may provide the player, for example, with a $100 starting balance and be limited to a $1 max bet. Such a session may have an associated cost of, for example, $4.24). The $75 session, on the other hand, may provide the player with a $1000 starting balance and an increased max bet of $10. Such a session may have an associated cost of, for example, $42.40. The $200 session may provide the player with a $2500 starting balance and an increased max bet of $25. Such a session may have an associated cost of, for example, $106.01.
  • [0288]
    It should be understood that the retail price (the price at which the session is offered for sale to a player) and/or the cost of a session may be based at least in part on the rules employed during the session. The prices and costs provided in the above examples are each based on the assumption that the following rules would be employed: (i) dealer stands on soft 17; (ii) blackjack pays 3 to 2; (iii) no surrender of hands allowed; (iv) early cash out of session allowed (i.e., player may cash out prior to playing all hands he is entitled to during the session); (v) doubling down on any two cards allowed; (vi) maximum of three splits allowed; and (vii) no re-splitting aces. Some rules may be adjusted without affecting the price or cost. For example, changing rule (i) such that the dealer is required to hit on soft 17 would not change the cost of the session and thus would probably not change the price.
  • [0289]
    Other factors, such as the rules or parameters of the session itself, may influence the session's cost (and thereby retail price). In some embodiments, a player's starting credit balance may be equivalent to the retail price, but in other cases it may not; this would of course have an effect on the ultimate number of credits available to the player at the session's conclusion, and thereby on its cost.
  • [0290]
    In one embodiment, a player's credit balance for a video blackjack session may start at zero irrespective of the session's retail price. In some embodiments, a player's credit balance may be allowed to go below zero. For example, the player may place a standard wager of $5 per hand, which may in some embodiments result in the credit balance being −$5 upon the placement of the first wager of the session. In some embodiments, the player's balance may not be allowed to go below zero but instead the credit balance may only be adjusted for payouts won by the player and not based on wagers placed by the player (i.e., in such embodiments the credit balance may only be increased due to payouts but not decreased due to wagers).
  • [0291]
    In some embodiments, the player may be paid based on his final credit balance after each of the hands of the video blackjack session are completed or at another time at which cashout occurs. For example, upon requesting cash out the player may be paid, an amount of credits equal to his credit balance, or an alternate amount based on comparing his final balance to a separate paytable, as described above. In some embodiments, the player might be provided with payouts based on comparing a plurality of his hands (played either in sequence or at the same time) to the dealer (e.g., a player gets a bonus for having six consecutive wins against the dealer, for getting five natural blackjacks, for getting several six-card “21s,” etc); such payouts may provide for increased volatility (such that players who are down toward the end of a session still have a chance of making money). Such methods are described in Applicant's co-pending Application No. PCTUS06/37036, filed Sep. 25, 2006 and entitled MULTIPLE POSITION SINGLE ROUND GAMING SLOT MACHINE AND METHOD; the entirety of this application is herein incorporated by reference for all purposes.
  • [0292]
    Is should be noted that other methods of increasing the volatility of a video blackjack session may be employed. The interested reader is directed to Applicant's co-pending U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/950,036, filed Jul. 16, 2007 and entitled METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR FACILITATING CONDITIONAL BETS IN A FLAT RATE PLAY SESSION for further description of conditional volatility within flat rate wagering sessions; the entirety of this application is herein incorporated by reference for all purposes. In one example, in some embodiments personalized cards may be used in a flat rate session of video blackjack. For example, players may purchase one or more personalized cards at the beginning of a session and the card(s) may be applicable throughout the entire session.
  • [0293]
    One advantage to including personalized cards in a session based blackjack format is that the cost of a personalized card may be built into the price of the session. Therefore, a 30 hand session that would normally cost $20 may instead cost a bit more (e.g., $23) if the player elects to purchase a personalized card. For example, when purchasing a flat rate session of 30 hands of video blackjack, Player A opts to associate an Automatic Win rule with the K. Player A pays $20 for the session and $1.50 for the personalized card. If Player A receives the K at any time during the session, his hand wins automatically.
  • [0294]
    Another advantage to including personalized cards in a session based video blackjack format is that since the casino and the player can, in many embodiments, anticipate playing a predetermined amount of hands, the casino can offer “packages” of personalized cards. A package of personalized cards may comprise one or more personalized cards that are activated or deactivated based on a set of triggers within a session. In some embodiments, players may be able to choose a personalized card's suit, rank, associated rule or value change, restrictions and duration. In other embodiments, these variables may already be determined by the casino.
  • [0295]
    In one embodiment, a personalized card “package” may comprise a plurality of personalized cards that gradually become active as the player progresses through the session. In such a situation, the player's odds of winning get better as the player gets closer to the session's conclusion.
  • [0296]
    For example, Player A purchases a 30 hand session of blackjack with a package of personalized cards. The personalized cards are defined as any face card of the diamond suit is worth 11. At the beginning of the session, none of the personalized cards are activated, however the J♦ is activated once the player has played 10 hands. Then, the Q♦ and K♦ are also activated once the player has completed 20 hands. Thus, the player plays first third of the session with no advantage, gains a small advantage during the second third of the session, and has the greatest advantage in the last third of the session.
  • [0297]
    In another embodiment, a personalized card “package” may comprise a plurality of personalized cards that are all active at the start of the session, and gradually deactivated as the player progresses through the session. In such a situation, the player's odds of winning are highest at the beginning of the session, and decreases as the player gets closer to the sessions conclusion.
  • [0298]
    For example, Player A purchases a 30 hand session of blackjack with a package of personalized cards. The personalized cards are defined as any face card of the diamond suit is worth 11. At the beginning of the session, all of the personalized cards are active, however the Q♦ and K♦ are both deactivated once the player has played 10 hands. Then, the J♦ is also deactivated once the player has completed 20 hands. Thus, the player plays the first third of the session with the greatest advantage, loses some of the advantage during the second third of the session, and has no advantage during the final third.
  • [0299]
    In another embodiment, a package of personalized cards may comprise a plurality of personalized cards that are activated based on the game's outcomes. For example, personalized cards may become active based on how much a player has lost or won in a session. For example, a player purchases a package of personalized cards. Once the player has lost $20, one of the personalized cards becomes active. If the player loses another $20, another personalized card may become active, etc. In another example, a player purchases a package of personalized cards. If the player wins $20, then one of the personalized cards becomes active. If the player wins another $20, another personalized card becomes active, etc.
  • [0300]
    In some embodiments, personalized cards may become active based on individual or a combination of outcomes. For example, a player purchases a package of personalized cards. Each time the player and the dealer tie, one of the personalized cards becomes active. In another example, a player purchases a package of personalized cards and if the player loses 5 or more hands in a row, the personalized cards become active. In yet another example, a player purchases a package of personalized cards and if the player wins 4 or more hands in a row, the personalized cards become active.
  • [0301]
    It should be appreciated that more frequent winning hands at the end of a session; (i) keeps the player's interest, (ii) makes the player happier with the game, and (iii) retain players after the session's conclusion. Thus, in the above described personalized cards embodiments, the odds over the course of a video blackjack session may be adjusted by altering the value of one or more predetermined cards throughout the session. For instance, a video blackjack session may be broken into a plurality of individual sections (e.g., determined by a number of hands, an amount of time, etc) and cards of a predetermined rank and/or suit are assigned values based upon the current session section. By assigning dynamic values to specific cards, the casino is able to control blackjack odds over the course of a game by changing whether a card's applied value is favorable or unfavorable for the player (e.g., by applying a 1 or 11 value to cards other than aces).
  • [0302]
    For example, in one embodiment a video blackjack session is segmented into 3 sections and card values are dependent on the current session segment. For instance, traditional blackjack values are applied during all segments except that: Kings of hearts are valued 1 or 11 during the second segment; all Jacks Queens and Kings of hearts are valued 1 or 11 during the third segment. Thus, as the play progresses, the player has more chances to hit Blackjack.
  • [0303]
    In some embodiments, altered values are not attributable to cards in the dealer's hand.
  • [0304]
    Commonly-owned U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,552, filed Mar. 31, 1998 in the name of Walker et al. and issued May 30, 2000, entitled A GAMING DEVICE AND METHOD OF OPERATION THEREOF describes various other manners of customizing one or more parameters of a gaming device, one or more of which may be applicable to embodiments described herein. Accordingly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,552 is incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
  • [0305]
    Turning now to video roulette session embodiments, as described herein, in some embodiments a gaming device may comprise a video roulette device and be operable to facilitate flat rate play of a video roulette game. For example, a player may purchase a session of 25 roulette spins for $40. Betting may occur within the session in a variety of different manners. In one example, a player may receive a lump sum of credits with which to bet at the outset of the session, and may be allowed to use the credits to bet however he'd like, though with some restrictions (e.g., a minimum bet of $5 and maximum bet of $25 per spin). Thus, in one example, both the types of bets the player makes and the amounts bet may be variable (to at least some degree) within a session. In another example, a player may placed bets of a fixed size every spin, though in any manner he'd like. In yet another example, a player may placed bets of a fixed size every spin, though he may be restricted on the types of bets he is allowed to place, so as to reduce the overall volatility available to the player (e.g., a player gets $20 to bet with every spin, though may place a maximum of $5 on any given single number). In yet another example, a player may purchase a video roulette session, and both the types of bets placed as well as the amount bet per spin may remain fixed throughout the session (e.g., a player bets $5 on each of five different numbers every spin). Thus, in accordance with some embodiments, when playing a session of video roulette, a player's bets may be restricted in ways that are specific to the game of roulette. For example, a player may be prohibited from making overlapping bets, or the player may have a set amount of money that he is required to bet on a certain zone of the felt (e.g., inside bets vs. outside bets). Restrictions of this sort may help to decrease the volatility of the game, which may be beneficial to the casino hosting the video roulette game.
  • [0306]
    In some embodiments, restrictions for a video roulette session may be embodied in virtual tokens or chips of different colors that are provided to the player for use during the session, with each color representing a distinct restriction or set of restrictions. For example, a player of a video roulette session may be provided with a certain number (e.g., 5) of chips of a first color (e.g., red) which may be used to bet in an unlimited manner (i.e., the player can use the red chips to be on anything). The player may also be provided with a certain number of chips (e.g., 10) of a second color (e.g., blue), but the blue chips may only be used to bet on certain positions (e.g., particular color and/or particular number(s)) or have other restrictions associated therewith (e.g., these latter chips may be used only once every other spin, may not be used in combination with another color chip, may not be used for overlap bets, etc.).
  • [0307]
    In some embodiments, different and/or additional restrictions may be placed on a player. For example, a player may only be allowed to play inside with a given number of chips at a time. In another example, a player may be restricted to bet a limited amount inside with no overlap or a limited amount outside with overlap.
  • [0308]
    In some embodiments, different types of video roulette sessions may be made available to different types of players. For example, certain types of players may be allowed to purchase a numbers session while other types of players may be allowed to purchase a red/black session. Of course, making certain types of sessions only available to certain types of player is a concept applicable to all of the types of games described herein.
  • [0309]
    In one or more embodiments, a player may be allowed to purchase two concurrent sessions (e.g. a player may purchase both a numbers session and a red/black session).
  • [0310]
    In some embodiments of a video roulette session, the player receives a starting balance that limits the player. If the player runs out of session chips the player's session ends. In some video roulette session embodiments (as well as some video blackjack and other session embodiments), a player may only be allowed to cash out any credits over the starting balance provided to the player upon the beginning of the session. In other words, the credits initially provided to the player for the starting balance may be considered non-cashable credits. For example, if a player is provided with a $100 starting balance and ends the session with a $115 ending credit balance, the player may be allowed to cash out the $15 credits over the initial $100 starting balance. In such embodiments, if the player's ending credit balance is less than the starting balance, the player may not be allowed to cash any credits out but may also not be required to provide any further payment beyond the flat rate price initially paid for the session.
  • [0311]
    In some embodiment of video roulette sessions, the player is not limited in the amount the player can bet per spin (and/or the types of bet(s) the player can make on any given spin), but instead is limited in the net amount the player can be paid per spin. In one embodiment, a session may be defined by (i) a maximum amount paid per spin (in addition to the wager for that spin) and (ii) a maximum amount paid for outside bets (including outside wager). In such embodiments, both of these maximums may apply on each spin.
  • [0312]
    For example, a particular session may provide the player with 100 credits maximum paid per spin and 50 credits maximum paid on the outside, wherein the denomination is $1. Thus, if the player of this session puts $100 on red and it hits, the player will get the $100 wager back plus $50 more. If the player puts $3 on the number 17 and it hits, the player gets the $3, plus $100 more (the player would usually get $105 more at 35 to 1 if playing conventional roulette). If the player also bet $50 on black (17 is black), then the player would get this $50 back as well, but no additional payout since the player already hit his $100 maximum for the spin.
  • [0313]
    In one embodiment, a form of session extension may be allowed for a video roulette session: if the player hits the maximum payout on his last spin (e.g., total payout, not just outside), he may be given an extra spin. This can continue as long as it lasts (i.e., in one embodiment the player may continue to get an extra spin so long as he continues to keep kitting the maximum payout).
  • [0314]
    Some example session parameters for video roulette sessions follow. These examples are note meant in any limiting manner but are provide to illustrate some embodiments.
  • [0315]
    In one example, a 10-spin video roulette session may be sold for either $50, $100 or $200. The $50 session may be defined by a $0.50 denomination, a $100 starting balance, a $50 maximum net payout per spin and a $25 maximum net payout for outside. This session may have an associated cost of $41 of played on a single-o wheel and a $37 cost if played on a 00 wheel. The $100 session may be defined by a $1 denomination, $200 starting balance, $100 maximum net payout per spin and a $50 maximum net payout on outside. Such a session may have an associated cost of $84 if played on a single-0 wheel and a $73 cost if played on a 00 wheel. The $200 session may be defined by a $1 denomination, $500 starting balance, $200 maximum net payout per spin and a $100 maximum net payout per spin on outside. Such a session may have an associated cost of $172 if played on a single-0 wheel and a $156 cost if played on a 00 wheel.
  • [0316]
    In another example, a 25-spin video roulette session may be sold for either $40 or $200. The $40 session may be defined by a $0.25 denomination, a $100 starting balance, a $100 maximum net payout per spin and a $50 maximum net payout on outside. This session may have an associated cost of $32 if played on a single-0 wheel and a $27 cost if played on a 00 wheel. The $200 session may be defined by a $1 denomination, a $300 starting balance, a $200 maximum net payout per spin and a $100 maximum net payout for outside. This session may have an associated cost of $177 if played on a single-0 wheel and a $160 cost if played on a 00 wheel.
  • [0317]
    In some video roulette session embodiments, the player may also be provided with a number of tokens, lammers or other indicators equivalent to the number of spins defining the session. Thus, for a 10 spin session the player may be provided with 10 tokens and one token may be deducted from the player's balance of tokens upon every spin, as a mechanism for tracking the number of spins the player has remaining. It should be noted that a player purchasing a 10-spin session and thus receiving 10 tokens may not necessarily end up playing 10 spins during the session. In some embodiments in which the player is not restricted as to the wager amount per spin, the player may, for example, end up making some relatively large wagers and thus end up completing less than 10 spins during the session. However, since in some embodiments the maximum net payout per spin is limited, the player in such embodiments may not be incentivized to make large bets.
  • [0318]
    In some embodiments, a player may be provided with the entirety of his starting balance for a session upon starting the session. In other embodiments, portions of the starting balance may be provided to the player upon each spin (e.g., to minimize the chances of a player bankrupting himself by making exorbitantly large wagers). For example, 20 chips may be provided to the player prior to the initiation of each spin. A player may or may not be required to wager the entirety of the chips provided to the player for any given spin (e.g., in some embodiments the player may be allowed to “roll over” some chips provided for a current spin to a subsequent spin). In some embodiments, a limit may be placed on how many of such chips (or a value of such chips) the player may save towards a future spin (e.g., the player may have a $30 allowance for a session and/or a $10 allowance per spin of value the player can save towards a subsequent spin).
  • [0319]
    In some embodiments, a player may be paid out in a different type of chip, credit or other type of currency than he is allowed to wager with. For example, a player may be provided with non-cashable credits or chips to utilize for betting during the session but may be paid out with cashable credits. In some embodiments, a separate meter and/or display may be used to track non-cashable credits or chips usable only for betting during the session and cashable credits or chips that may be cashed out by the player (e.g., these latter chips or credits may be ones won by the player during the session as a result of wagers made).
  • [0320]
    Turning now to FIG. 25, illustrated therein is an example screen 2500 of a snapshot in time of a video roulette session, consistent with some embodiments described herein. Screen 2500 indicates a maximum payout amount per spin for the session the player is currently engaged in, in area 2505. It also shows the number of chips the player has left to use for the session (in area 2510), as well as the denomination of each chip (also in area 2515). It should be noted that, in accordance with some embodiments, the chips usable for betting in a flat rate play session may be non-cashable chips, which is why these chips are referred to as “session chips” in screen 2500. Area 2515 shows the winning number for the last or current spin. Area 2520 shows the number of spins left in the session. Areas 2525 are buttons the player may press to quit the session early (as described herein, in some embodiments a player may end a flat rate play session prior to utilizing all of the spins of the session). Area 2530 shows the virtual wheel and virtual ball, which are spun to indicate the result of each round of the game. In some embodiments, area 2530 may be enlarged during the actual “spinning” process.
  • [0321]
    Area 2535 illustrates the betting area (i.e., the virtual felt on which players place their bets). Areas 2540-2550 illustrate various buttons a player may press to initiate certain actions.
  • [0322]
    Turning now to FIG. 26, illustrated therein is a flowchart of an example process 2600 consistent with some video roulette session embodiments described herein. Process 2600 is a process for processing a bet within a video roulette session of a player. It is assumed that a player has purchases a flat rate play session of a video roulette session prior to process 2600 initiating. Details of the typical operations of a video roulette device are omitted herein for purposes of brevity. U.S. Pat. No. 5,775,993 to Fentz et al (issued on Jul. 7, 1998 and entitled VIDEO ROULETTE MACHINE) describes the detailed operations of a video roulette device that may be utilized in some embodiments described herein. The entirety of U.S. Pat. No. 5,775,993 is incorporated by reference herein.
  • [0323]
    In step 2605, a player's requested bet is determined. For example, it may be determined that the player has placed 20 chips on the line between the number 30 and 33, thus indicating a request to make a split bet for those numbers. In step 2610 it is determined whether this bet is consistent with the restriction of the session the player has purchased. As described, certain sessions may include one or more restrictions on the types of bets allowed (e.g., to limit the exposure of the casino). Step 2610 may comprise, for example, determining the session purchased by the player, determining the restrictions defining the session and determining whether the bet requested by the player is prohibited by the restrictions. If the bet is prohibited, process 2600 continues to step 2615, in which step the bet is rejected. For example, assuming overlap bets were restricted in the session purchased by the player, step 2615 may comprise rejecting the split bet and outputting a message to the player, reminding the player that overlap bets are prohibited in his session.
  • [0324]
    If the bet requested by the player is not prohibited by the restrictions of the session, process 2600 continues to step 2620, in which step the bet is confirmed. Confirming the bet may comprise, for example, recording the bet in memory and displaying the bet on the virtual felt. Confirming the bet may also comprise requesting the player to confirm the bet.
  • [0325]
    In step 2625, the end of the betting phase is determined (i.e., it is determined that no more bets are to be accepted for the upcoming spin of the virtual roulette wheel). For example, it may be determined that a predetermined amount of time has passed since bets were begun to be accepted for the spin. Step 2625 may comprise, for example, displaying a “No More Bets” message to the player(s) of the game and sending a “betting stopped” message to a processor of the video roulette device facilitating the game.
  • [0326]
    In step 2630, the “spin” of the virtual roulette wheel is performed. This may comprise, for example, determining a random number, displaying a tilting of the virtual wheel, displaying a spinning of the virtual wheel, displaying a dropping of a virtual ball into the virtual wheel, outputting appropriate sounds duplicating the sound of a ball rolling in a roulette wheel, and stopping the wheel such that the ball lands in the spot of the wheel corresponding to the random number determined.
  • [0327]
    In step 2635 it is determined whether the bet confirmed in step 2620 is a winner (i.e., determining whether the ball landed on a number/color bet on by the player). If the bet is not a winner, process 2600 continues to step 2645. Otherwise, process 2600 continues to step 2640, in which step the chips bet are collected.
  • [0328]
    In step 2645 the initial payout is determined. It is called the initial payout because, in accordance with some embodiments, it is assumed for the sake of this example that the session defined a maximum net payout for each spin. Thus, it is first determined what payout is due to the player based on the amount bet and the payoff corresponding to the bet, without taking the maximum net payout into account.
  • [0329]
    In step 2650 the initial payout determined in step 2645 is compared to the maximum net payout of the session purchased by the player to determine whether the initial payout is greater than the maximum net payout. If the initial payout is not greater, process 2600 continues to step 2655 and the initial payout is paid to the player. Otherwise, process 2600 continues to step 2660, in which the adjusted payout (typically the maximum net payout) is determined. In step 2665 the adjusted payout is paid to the player as an alternative to the initial payout.
  • [0330]
    In some embodiments, special jackpot payouts may be provided to a player of a video roulette session based on events during the session. For example, a special payout may be awarded to a player for winning on consecutive numbers (e.g., across consecutive spins). For example, a payout may be provided if a player wins on the numbers 1-6 across six consecutive spins. In some embodiments, process 2600 may include a determination of whether a special jackpot payout is due to the player based on the result of the current spin and, in some embodiments, based on results of previous spins.
  • [0331]
    It should be noted that U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/012,230, filed Dec. 7, 2007 and entitled BLACKJACK SESSION PLAY//TABLE GAME SESSION PLAY describes various roulette session embodiments for table games. The description of such embodiments from this provisional application is hereby incorporated by reference herein. Turning now to video baccarat session embodiments, as described herein, in some embodiments a gaming device may comprise a video baccarat device and be operable to facilitate flat rate play of a video baccarat game. The following example is provided in Hong Kong Dollars, rather than U.S. dollars, as Baccarat is much more prevalent in Asian countries than it currently is in the U.S. Of course, the Hong Kong dollars could easily be converted to U.S. dollars if such a conversion were desired, or another currency altogether, such as the Malaysian ringgit, may be used. Turning now to a non-limiting example, a player may purchase 25 hands of baccarat for HK$2000. Of course, as in embodiments for other types of games described herein, the player's credit balance may start at zero and be allowed to go negative from there, as the player places wagers. In another embodiment of a HK$2000 baccarat session, a player may be provided with a starting balance of HK$10,000. The player may be restricted, however, in how the player may be allowed to bet this HK$10,000 during the session. For example, the player may be restricted to 5 HK$1,500 wagers, 10 HK$1,000 wagers and 10 HK$500 wagers. The player may also be provided with 25 tokens, with 1 token being retrieved from the player for each wager made. Such a video bacarrat session may be further defined by a HK$11,000 pay line and have an associated contract cost of HK$1,256. In one embodiments, the rules associated with such a session may be as follows: (i) player may bet on “player” or “banker” but not on “tie”; (ii) banker bets have commission taken; (iii) each token has a maximum bet for the hand associated with it; and (iv) session must be played out to completion (i.e., no early cash out).
  • [0332]
    Players might get paid bonuses for various unlikely occurrences, such as 100 credits if the player chooses a side (player or dealer) that results in an outcome of “2-3-4” in any one suit. In embodiments wherein wager amounts are not fixed, the game might restrict amount played can bet on an outcome of “tie.”
  • [0333]
    It should be noted that U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/012,230, filed Dec. 7, 2007 and entitled BLACKJACK SESSION PLAY//TABLE GAME SESSION PLAY describes various baccarat session embodiments for table games. The description of such embodiments from this provisional application is hereby incorporated by reference herein.
  • [0334]
    Turning now to video keno session embodiments, as described herein, in some embodiments a gaming device may comprise a video keno device and be operable to facilitate flat rate play of a video keno game. For example, a player might pay a flat amount and receive a certain number of keno entries (e.g., 15 consecutive games). In one example, the player might wager the same amount, and submit the same “ticket” (e.g., a “5-spot” ticket for the numbers 1, 16, 22, 31, 33, and 39) for each game.
  • [0335]
    In one embodiment, a player may be started in a Keno session with zero credits. Any credits won by the player may be added to the credit balance while wagers are not deducted from the balance. In such an embodiment, a player may be offered, for example, either a 25-hand session or a 100-hand session. The 25-hand session may be offered, for example, for either $20, $40 or $100. The 25-hand, $20 session may be defined by, for example, 5 spots, $0.10 denomination and 8 credits bet per spot (for a $4 total wager) and be associated with a $11.95 cost. The 25-hand, $40 session may be defined by 3 spots, $0.25 denomination and 8 credits bet per spot (for a $6 total wager) and be associated with a $27.27 cost. The 25-hand, $100 session may be defined by 4 spots, a $1 denomination and 8 credits bet per spot (for a $32 total wager) and be associated with a $70.76 cost.
  • [0336]
    In some embodiments, a keno session may be associated with a credit balance that can go below zero (e.g., wagers are deducted for each hand, even if the deduction results in a credit balance that is negative; wins are added to the credit balance, which may result in the credit balance returning to a positive amount). In such an embodiment, some of the parameters defining a keno session may change. For example, a 25-hand, $20 keno session may be defined by 2 spots, a $0.25 denomination and 8 credits bet per spot (for a $4 total wager) and be associated with a $12.49 contract cost. A 25-hand, $40 keno session in such an embodiment may be defined by 4 spots, a $0.50 denomination and 8 credits bet per spot (for a total of $16) and be associated with a cost of $26.11.
  • [0337]
    Additional methods for facilitating session play of various types of casino games (e.g., roulette, keno, bingo, blackjack, baccarat, etc.) are described in Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/333,683 (Attorney Docket No. 05-001), filed Jan. 17, 2006 and entitled METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETERMINING AND SELLING WAGERING GAME OUTCOMES TO BE VIEWED REMOTELY; Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/392,444 (Attorney Docket No. 06-002), filed Mar. 26, 2006 and entitled METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETERMINING A BATCH RUN OF SESSIONS; Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/391,843 (Attorney Docket No. 06-008), filed Mar. 26, 2006 and entitled METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETERMINING AND SELLING WAGERING GAME OUTCOMES FOR A PLURALITY OF PLAYERS; Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/392,828 (Attorney Docket No. 06-010), filed Mar. 29, 2006 and entitled METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETERMINING AND SELLING OUTCOMES FOR ROULETTE GAMES TO BE VIEWED REMOTELY; and Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/393,154 (Attorney Docket No. 06-011), filed Mar. 29, 2006 and entitled METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETERMINING AND SELLING OUTCOMES FOR DRAWING GAMES TO BE VIEWED REMOTELY; the entirety of each of these applications is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
  • Tax Implications and Flat Rate Play
  • [0338]
    As is known in the art, in some jurisdictions, some standard wagering devices (not offering flat rate play sessions) are configured to “lock up” upon the occurrence of a single payout amount over a certain threshold (e.g., $1,200), such that tax paperwork may be facilitated (e.g., an attendant is dispatched to a gaming device, or notices the gaming device's “locked” state, service light, etc.). Normally, an attendant might (i) provide a W2-G to the player, (ii) provide a “hand pay” of the jackpot amount, and/or (iii) insert a key into the gaming device, such that the win amount may be cleared from the gaming device's credit balance (as the player was paid by hand) and/or reported to a central server (for accounting purposes).
  • [0339]
    Such a tax-implicated payout event may be handled differently within the context of a flat rate play session for which a player has paid a flat price up front. For example, in one embodiment, should a player in the middle of a flat rate play session (e.g., on the 51st of 100 spins) achieve a single payout of $1,200 or more, the machine may still “lock up,” and an attendant may still be required to interface with the player. The attendant may still provide the player with appropriate tax paperwork (e.g., a W2-G). However, (i) the payout may not be “cleared” from the machine's credit balance (i.e., intra-session balance), as the player may still need to “wager off” the payout over remaining plays of the session (e.g., each play results in a reduction of the session credit balance by a standard wager amount), and/or (ii) the player may not receive a hand pay (e.g., as the payout amount remains “on the machine”).
  • [0340]
    In other embodiments, taxes and/or other withholdings may be deducted from the jackpot amount with the aid of an attendant. FIGS. 27 a-27 c illustrate three distinct and consecutive screen shots corresponding to one example process via which taxes may be deducted from a qualifying jackpot.
  • [0341]
    FIG. 27 a illustrates information that may be output to a player upon winning a jackpot that is equal to or greater than a qualifying amount (e.g., $1200). In accordance with one embodiment illustrated via FIG. 27 a, a gaming device may lock up upon a win of such a qualifying jackpot until an attendant arrives to unlock it. For example, the attendant may be authorized to either clear the jackpot (i.e., the jackpot is added to the credit meter without any withholding of taxes therefrom) or cause the appropriate taxes and/or other withholdings to be deducted from the jackpot prior to it being added to the credit meter.
  • [0342]
    FIG. 27 b illustrates the different taxes and other withholding amounts that an attendant may be asked to fill in when processing the jackpot. For example, screen 27 b may be a touchscreen via which an attendant may adjust the actual amounts and/or corresponding rates for each type of withholding. It should be noted that, in many embodiments, the total withholding must be less than the net jackpot amount. In some embodiments, each of the amounts to be withheld may need to be an even multiple of the bet for each game in the session. In the example of screen 27 b, each of the amounts is in a multiple of $5. In some embodiments, amounts are rounded up to the nearest $5 increment. When finishing configuring the withholding amounts, the attendant presses the “enter” button.
  • [0343]
    In some embodiments, taxes or withholdings other than federal and/or state taxes may be withheld from a jackpot. For example, local taxes, commonwealth taxes, deadbeat dad withholdings or any other withholdings may be set as preferred by the casino hosting a flat rate play session.
  • [0344]
    Once the withholding amount is confirmed, the gaming device may display the alternate jackpot amount (i.e., the jackpot amount less the withholding amount). FIG. 27 c illustrates an example of a screen that may be displayed, informing the player and the attendant of the alternate jackpot amount. If the alternate jackpot amount is correct, the attendant can clear the jackpot (e.g., by turning the key switch).
  • [0345]
    Once the jackpot is cleared, the withholding amount is subtracted from the session balance and is displayed on the paid meter. The withheld amount can be metered as attendant paid canceled credits, added to the paid meter and added to the canceled credits hard meter. This may be a process similar to what occurs on some machines when a cashout is requested and paid by an attendant.
  • [0346]
    In addition to clearing the jackpot and authorizing the withholding amount, an attendant may also provide a player with a W2-G form and help the player in filling it out. In some embodiments, the attendant may require the player to provide an acceptable form of ID when processing the jackpot.
  • [0347]
    Mid-Session Game Transfer
  • [0348]
    In some embodiments, a player may be allowed to transfer from “game family” to “game family” of unequal value (e.g., from a first video poker game wherein a player is offered 150 hands for $20 to a second video poker game wherein a player is normally offered 200 hands for $20, as players might be given more hands for game types that are less volatile). In some embodiments, this may occur through a value translation process (e.g., an algorithm that converts “remaining plays/time” of a first game type to an appropriate metric for “remaining plays/time” of a second game type), and may optionally include a tax or fee to the player for switching families (e.g., $1 per mid-game switch).
  • Benefit for Having a Friend's Player Tracking Card Inserted
  • [0349]
    In some embodiments, to encourage new players to view session play, players of flat rate play sessions may receive a benefit (e.g., a one-time benefit of a certain amount of comp points, a cash benefit, merchandise benefit, promotional credits, etc.) if a different player's tracking card is inserted during a session. The other player's tracking card might be inserted into the same machine, or an adjacent machine.
  • Rate-Of-Play Benefits in Flat Rate Gaming
  • [0350]
    In some embodiments, a player may receive more spins/time if a certain rate of play is maintained for a period within a session.
  • Time Play “While Reels Spin”
  • [0351]
    In some embodiments, wherein the duration of a flat rate play session is denoted in time (e.g., a 60-minute session), time may only count against the player while a game play is mid-execution (e.g., minutes/seconds are only taken away from the player's remaining duration “while the reels are spinning”).
  • Altered Bet on Final Spin
  • [0352]
    In some embodiments, on the last game play of a prepaid session, a player may be allowed to place a bet as large as his credit balance will cover (e.g., $125.25), if he chooses.
  • Best Session Contest
  • [0353]
    In some embodiments, in lieu of collecting payout amount for completed session, player may enter session into contest (“Best Session of the Day” pays $10,000).
  • Flat Rate Play Sessions Executed on Wireless/Handheld Devices
  • [0354]
    In some embodiments, players of flat rate play sessions on wireless/handheld devices (as described above) may receive benefits for playing in certain geographic areas (e.g., extra spins while visiting restaurants or waiting in line).
  • [0355]
    In some embodiments, players of flat rate play sessions on wireless/handheld devices may see up to three distinct credit balances: (i) an “intra-session” balance of credits for tracking wager/win/loss behavior within a flat rate play session, (ii) a “gambling” credit balance (funds available to the player for gambling, whether purchasing flat rate play sessions or otherwise), and/or (iii) a device/account balance (funds available to the player for various services available via the handheld/wireless, including gambling, purchase of goods/services, etc.). In some embodiments, a player may be restricted from transferring an amount of funds from one such balance to another. For example, a player may only be able to deposit $100 into a gambling balance per day. In another example, only a percentage of a player's device/account balance may be transferred to a gambling balance at any one time. In another example, depending on the player, a request to transfer funds to a gambling balance may be denied (e.g., a child, a problem gamer, etc.).
  • [0356]
    As described, in some embodiments, flat rate play on such a wireless/handheld device may involve interaction with a network server, for determining game results, accounting purposes, and so on. In some embodiments, a player might begin play of a flat rate session on a first portable gaming device, and conclude the session on a second portable device (e.g., session data is stored on the network server, and the player need only identify himself to a gaming device to resume an interrupted session).
  • “Sample Session” Button
  • [0357]
    In some embodiments, gaming device players may have an option (e.g., by pressing a button or icon of a touch-screen display) to play a short-duration session by providing little (or no) payment. For example, a player may press a “$2 sample session” button. $2 in value is deducted from the machine's credit balance and the player may be allowed to play a short flat rate play session of 20 spins. The player may then “convert” this small session into a full-length session (e.g., retaining a credit balance and providing an additional fee), purchase a full-length session at a discount, win additional session play, and so on. Such methods for extending flat rate gaming sessions are described at length in Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/254,352 (Attorney Docket No. 05-033), filed Oct. 25, 2005 and entitled METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR FACILITATING A FLAT RATE PLAY SESSION AND FOR EXTENDING SAME; and Applicant's co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 11/273,534 (Attorney Docket No. 05-044), filed Nov. 14, 2005 and entitled METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR OFFERING A FLAT RATE GAMING SESSION WITH TIME EXTENSION AWARDS; the entirety of each of these applications is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6077163 *Jun 23, 1997Jun 20, 2000Walker Digital, LlcGaming device for a flat rate play session and a method of operating same
US6890255 *Dec 13, 2002May 10, 2005IgtMultiple wheel roulette game
US7270604 *Sep 9, 2003Sep 18, 2007IgtGaming device with offer/acceptance game having offer chosen from multiple formed offers
US8221214 *Jul 17, 2012IgtRotor-based gaming device having a secondary award system
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7862416Jun 8, 2006Jan 4, 2011IgtSystem and method for communicating game session information
US7874914Aug 7, 2003Jan 25, 2011IgtSystem and method for communicating game session information
US8206210 *Jun 26, 2012Walker Digital, LlcSystem and method for communicating game session information
US8251801 *Sep 5, 2008Aug 28, 2012Shuffle Master, Inc.Automated table chip-change screen feature
US8262475Jul 15, 2008Sep 11, 2012Shuffle Master, Inc.Chipless table split screen feature
US8490973Nov 14, 2008Jul 23, 2013Shfl Entertainment, Inc.Card reading shoe with card stop feature and systems utilizing the same
US8511684Jan 16, 2009Aug 20, 2013Shfl Entertainment, Inc.Card-reading shoe with inventory correction feature and methods of correcting inventory
US8591305Sep 20, 2012Nov 26, 2013Shfl Entertainment, Inc.Method, apparatus and system for egregious error mitigation
US8597114Aug 23, 2012Dec 3, 2013Shfl Entertainment, Inc.Systems and methods for assisting players in arranging hands for table games
US8690682May 26, 2011Apr 8, 2014Wms Gaming, Inc.Browser based wagering game systems and configuration
US8911294Aug 5, 2011Dec 16, 2014Wms Gaming, Inc.Browser based heterogenous technology ecosystem
US9005011Oct 15, 2008Apr 14, 2015Wms Gaming, Inc.Presenting wagering game content
US9101821Dec 2, 2013Aug 11, 2015Bally Gaming, Inc.Systems and methods for play of casino table card games
US9159185Aug 29, 2012Oct 13, 2015Bally Gaming, Inc.Physical playing card gaming systems and related methods
US9162138Aug 8, 2013Oct 20, 2015Bally Gaming, Inc.Card-reading shoe with inventory correction feature and methods of correcting inventory
US9192852Dec 18, 2013Nov 24, 2015Bally Gaming, Inc.Distributing information in a wagering game system
US9269220Dec 13, 2013Feb 23, 2016Bally Gaming, Inc.Web page constructions with different technology containers
US9345973Aug 5, 2011May 24, 2016Bally Gaming, Inc.Controlling wagering game system browser areas
US20090233676 *Mar 14, 2008Sep 17, 2009William George CormackMethod of gaming, a gaming system and a game controller
US20100004051 *Jul 3, 2008Jan 7, 2010Walker Jay SSystem and method for personalizing playing cards at a table game
US20100062845 *Mar 11, 2010Wadds Nathan JAutomated table chip-change screen feature
US20100210353 *Oct 15, 2008Aug 19, 2010Gagner Mark BPresenting wagering game content
US20120094731 *Oct 19, 2010Apr 19, 2012Bradley BermanPoker Game Enabling Replacement of Discrete Card Characteristics
US20120302307 *Nov 29, 2012Jamie AbrahamsonNovel side bet game with roulette play
US20140073394 *Mar 7, 2013Mar 13, 2014Gaming Arts LLCSystems and methods for playing games of chance
US20140073400 *Mar 7, 2013Mar 13, 2014Gaming Arts LLCSystems and methods for playing a game of chance with selectable matrices
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/17, 463/42, 463/20, 463/43
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3244, G07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32K, G07F17/32
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 29, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: WALKER DIGITAL, LLC, CONNECTICUT
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:WALKER, JAY S.;REEL/FRAME:021606/0828
Effective date: 20080924
Nov 4, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: IGT, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:WALKER DIGITAL, LLC;REEL/FRAME:023456/0940
Effective date: 20090810
Owner name: IGT,NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:WALKER DIGITAL, LLC;REEL/FRAME:023456/0940
Effective date: 20090810