CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present application claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/276,312 filed Feb. 23, 2006 (pending) which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/656,364, filed Feb. 25, 2005 (expired) and is a continuation-in-part of prior application Ser. No. 10/938,677, filed Sep. 10, 2004 (pending), which are hereby incorporated by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a gaming system and method of providing a contest entry to a player using a gaming device.
Connecting a plurality of gaming devices over a network to a host computer is known within the art. Also known within the art is the use of a database maintained within the host computer for tracking a player's play within a casino. The player is issued an identification card by the casino which is inserted into a reader located on the gaming device. These readers may also be installed on kiosks or host workstations located throughout the casino or on handheld remote consoles and carried by casino employees.
The database provides casinos with the ability to monitor a player's play and to compensate the players based on any predetermined event or criteria as established by the casino. This compensation extends to awarding a contest entry to a player. One such example is disclosed in United States Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0059480 (the '480 publication). The '480 publication describes a gaming system and method for entering a contest. The player may be automatically submitted into the contest or a ticket may be printed at the gaming device and manually entered into the contest. However, the system and method of the '480 publication does not account for multiple contests in the casino.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND ADVANTAGES
The present invention is aimed at one or more of the problems as set forth above.
The subject invention provides a method of providing a contest entry to a player using a gaming device. The method includes the step of establishing a player identification of the player at the gaming device. A player attribute of the player is retrieved from a player tracking database in response to establishing the player identification. The player attribute is compared to a predetermined entry criteria of a plurality of contests. The method continues with the step of presenting a list of eligible contests that are available for entry by the player based on the comparison of the player attribute to the predetermined entry criteria.
The subject invention also provides a gaming system. The system includes a player tracking database for storing player attributes of a player. A gaming device establishes a player identification of the player. A processor is operatively coupled to the database and the gaming device for comparing the player attributes to predetermined entry criteria of a plurality of contests. A communication mechanism, operatively coupled to the processor, presents a list of eligible contests that are available for entry by the player.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
By presenting a list of a plurality of contests available to the player, the player is given the option to choose one (or more) of the contests that appeal specifically to him or her. This will result in a higher level of customer satisfaction and will give the casino distinct promotional advantages over other casinos.
Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a gaming system;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a gaming device of the gaming system including a communication mechanism;
FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of a method of providing entry in a contest to a player; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 is a diagram of an auxiliary display showing a list of contests to the player.
Referring to the Figures, wherein like numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views, the present invention provides a gaming system 10 and a method 100 for providing entry in a contest to a player 14. The contest is typically a drawing where at least one entry is chosen from a plurality of entries to be awarded a prize. The contest, as is common practice, may also be described as a drawing, a raffle, a lottery, a sweepstakes, or a pool. In a first embodiment, the at least one entry, i.e., the winning entry is chosen at random where each entry has an equal chance. However, in other embodiments, some entries may have a higher chance of winning than other entries.
Referring to FIG. 1, in the first embodiment, the gaming system 10 includes a plurality of gaming devices 12. The gaming devices 12 may include, but are not limited to, mechanical reel slot machines, video slot machines, video poker machines, video arcade games, an electronically enhanced gaming table, an interface to a table management system for gaming tables, kiosks, virtual gaming devices, e.g. for online gaming, or other device within the system.
In the first embodiment eight electronic gaming devices 12A-12H are shown in FIG. 1. The other gaming devices 121, as shown in FIG. 1, represent an infinite amount of gaming devices 12 as placed throughout a casino or other environment. The present invention is not limited to a specific number of gaming devices 12. Typically, the gaming devices 12 are organized into banks or groups within the casino. A player 14 is defined as a patron visiting the casino who makes a wager while playing the gaming device 12 or utilizes the gaming device for any other purpose.
The gaming devices 12 are connected via a network 16 to one or more computers 18, which are generally located at a remote or central location. The network 16 may utilize wires, i.e., hardwired, or be wireless. For clarity and ease of description, only a single computer 18 is shown in FIG. 1, however, this should not be construed in any way as limiting the gaming system 10 of the present invention to only one computer 18. The computer 18 includes a processor 20 running a computer 18 application program and maintains one or more player tracking databases 22. The processor 20 and the databases 22 are operatively coupled with one another.
At least one player tracking account 24 is setup within the player tracking database 22. The player tracking account 24 and the player tracking database 22 store attributes of a player 14. Theses attributes may include, but are not limited to, name, age, sex, location of residence, amount of money wagered in gaming devices 12 and/or at gaming tables, number of points, i.e., comp points earned, amount of time playing gaming devices 12 and/or at gaming tables, length of stay at casino, and date and/or time of game play.
Referring to FIG. 2, each gaming device 12 may include a central processing unit 26 (CPU), a currency management device 28, a main display 30, a RAM 32 as a memory device and a ROM 34 (generally provided as an EPROM). The CPU 26 is mainly composed of a microprocessor unit (not shown) and performs various calculations and motion controls necessary for the progress of the game. The currency management device 28 detects the insertion of a coin or a bill and determines the value of the coin or bill. The main display 30 displays 30, 36 images as part of the game to the player 14. The RAM 32 temporarily stores programs and data necessary for the progress of the game, and the ROM 34 stores, in advance, programs and data for controlling basic operation of the gaming machine, such as the booting operation thereof, game code and graphics. Of course, other variations of the gaming device 12 may be implemented as are known to those skilled in the art.
In the first embodiment, a communication mechanism 38 is used as an interface between the gaming device 12 and the player 14 for communication between the player 14 or other operators and the processor 20, and, more specifically, for providing the identity of the player 14 to the processor 20 and the database 22. In the illustrated embodiment, an auxiliary display 36 is included in the communication mechanism 38 to display information to the player 14 and/or other operators of the gaming device 12. The communication mechanism 38 also includes an input apparatus 40 for allowing input by the player 14 and/or other operator(s). The communication mechanism 38 and the input apparatus 40 are operatively coupled to the processor 20 via the network 16. In the first embodiment, the player 14 is identified via an identification card (not shown) and/or an identification number. A card reader 42 is disposed within the communication mechanism 38 to receive the identification card and read the identification number and/or other data from the identification card. In the first embodiment, the identification card includes a magnetic stripe or surface which encodes the identification number. The card reader 42 includes a magnetic head (not shown) for reading the identification number from the magnetic stripe or surface. In other embodiments (not shown), the identification card may have a bar code read by a bar code scanner or an RFID tag read by a RFID scanner.
The communication mechanism 38 may also include at least one pushbutton 44, such as a numeric keypad (not shown), for manually entering the identification number. Furthermore, a touchscreen panel 46 may be disposed over the auxiliary display 36 for allowing the player 14 or other operators to enter information, such as the identification number, or to make other selections. Those skilled in the art realize other suitable implementations for the input device. The communication mechanism 38 may also include a printer 48.
As shown in FIG. 3, the method 100 of the present invention includes a first step 102 of establishing a player identification of the player 14 at the gaming device 12. In the system 10 of the first embodiment, as described above, the player may be established by reading the identification number from the identification card with the card reader 42 or by the player 14 manually entering the identification number.
After the player 14 is identified, the method 100 continues with a second step 104 of retrieving a player 14 attribute from the player tracking database 22. As mentioned above, the player tracking database 22 may track numerous player 14 attributes. In the first embodiment, the player 14 attribute retrieved from the player tracking database 22 is the amount of points earned. Those skilled in the art realize that casinos typically award points based on the amount wagered in gaming devices 12, length of time playing a table game, or other casino activity. Therefore, when the player 14 is playing a gaming device 12, his or her points will typically increase over time based on the amount wagered and other factors. Points may also be increased by purchases in the casino, casino promotions, or by other techniques.
The method 100 continues with a third step 106 of comparing the player 14 attribute to a predetermined entry criteria of a plurality of contests. In the first embodiment, this comparison is performed by the processor 20. Each of the contests may offer a different prize, and therefore appealing to the likes and interests of different players 14. Therefore, casinos utilizing the present invention are able to better appeal to broader variety of customers. For example, the prize for a first contest may be a round of golf while the prize for a second contest may be dinner for two in a restaurant. Obviously, some patrons of the casino are not golfers and may not be interested in the first contest. Accordingly, the second contest may possibly appeal to those patrons.
Furthermore, various contests may be disparate in their overall value. For example, the prize for a third contest may be a new car. Due this disparity between prize values of the various contests, the number of points required to enter each contest may also be unequal. For example, the first contest may require that the player 14 have earned 100 points for entry, the second contest may require 120 points, and the third contest require 300 points.
The method 100 further includes a fourth step 108 of presenting a list of eligible contests that are available for entry by the player 14. This list is based on the comparison of the player 14 attribute (e.g., points) to the predetermined entry criteria. The method 100 may also include the step presenting a list of ineligible contests that are not available for entry by the player 14 based on the comparison of the player 14 attribute to the predetermined entry criteria. In the first embodiment, this list (or lists) is/are displayed on the auxiliary display 36 of the communication mechanism 38. An example of listings of both eligible and ineligible contests is shown in FIG. 4. The list of ineligible contests may be differentiated from the list of eligible contests using any of numerous techniques known to those skilled in the art. One such technique is to “gray out” the ineligible contests, as is shown in FIG. 4. The number of points necessary for each eligible and ineligible contest may also be displayed on the auxiliary display 36. This allows the player 14 to see how many additional points are needed before being able to enter the currently ineligible contests.
Referring again to FIG. 3, in a fifth step 110 of the method 100, the player 14 is allowed to select one of the eligible contests to enter from the list of eligible contests. In the first embodiment, the player may use the input apparatus 40 to make this selection. If the input apparatus 40 includes the touchscreen panel 46, the player 14 may simply touch the eligible contest shown on the auxiliary display 36 that he/she wishes to enter. Otherwise, the at least one pushbutton 44 may be used to select the eligible contest. Furthermore, the player 14 may elect not to enter a contest or request to be reminded later about available contests.
In one embodiment, after selecting one of the eligible contests, the player 14 may be automatically, i.e., electronically entered into that particular contest. The computer 18 and processor 20 may keep track of which players 14 are entered into each contest. Alternatively, a separate contest control server (not shown) may be used to track the players 14 entered into each contest. Either way, the computer 18 or contest control server may randomly choose a winning entry from a plurality of entries to each contest. The computer 18 or contest control server may use a random number generator (RNG) to randomly or pseudo-randomly pick the winning entry. The drawing, i.e., picking of the winner, may take place at a prespecified time or at a random or pseudo-random time within an allotted range of time. Furthermore, after the drawing, the entry of each player 14 may be transferred to another related drawing for a different prize, i.e., a second-chance drawing.
In another embodiment, after selecting one of the eligible contests, an entry ticket may be printed for the selected contest. In the first embodiment, the ticket may be printed by the printer 48 of the communication mechanism 38. The player 14 may then take the ticket to a designated place for entry into the contest. Typically, the ticket would be placed inside a drum where tickets for all entries are randomized by rotating or spinning the drum. A winning ticket would then be drawn from the drum. The ticket may contain identifying information, such as, but not limited to, the name of the player 14, the identification number of the player 14, the casino name, the machine code where printed, and/or the time and date of the drawing.
By providing an entry into the selected contest, the player 14 may be required to exchange, i.e., give up, a certain number of points for entry into one of the eligible contests. By exchanging the points, the points would not be able to be used for other contests or to make other casino-related purchases. However, depending on the configuration by the casino, the player 14 may not be required to exchange the points for entry into one of the contests.
The communication mechanism 38 may be implemented outside of the gaming device 12 for allowing the player 14 to enter one of the contests. Referring again to FIG. 1, the communication mechanism 38 may be implemented in a kiosk 50, a host work station 52, and/or a host remote console 54, which are each operatively coupled to the computer 18 via the network 16. The kiosk 50 is independent from the gaming devices 12 and allows the player 14 to view and select from the list of eligible and ineligible contests. The host work station 52 is typically mounted in a fixed location for use by a casino employee. The host remote console 54 is typically a handheld and portable unit, allowing the casino employee to roam around the casino and enter players 14 in eligible contests.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. The invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described within the scope of the appended claims.