Title:
Gaming machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention concerns a gaming machine adapted to accept a bet on one or more winning outcomes of a game of chance; and. pay winnings of the occurrence of a winning outcome carrying a bet; wherein, the machine is configured to accept a single bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency.



Inventors:
Ainsworth, Leonard Hastings (Chiswick, AU)
Application Number:
09/932852
Publication Date:
06/20/2002
Filing Date:
08/17/2001
Assignee:
AINSWORTH LEONARD HASTINGS
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G07F17/32; G07F17/34; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ENATSKY, AARON L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ARTER & HADDEN, LLP (1100 HUNTINGTON BUILDING, CLEVELAND, OH, 44115-1475, US)
Claims:

What we claim is:



1. A gaming machine comprising: means adapted to accept a bet on one or more winning outcomes of a game of chance; and means adapted to pay winnings of the occurrence of a winning outcome carrying a bet; wherein the machine is configured to accept a single bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency.

2. The gaming machine according to claim 1 wherein the game of chance involves an array of randomly selected symbols and the winning outcomes are predetermined winning combinations of symbols, and wherein the machine is adapted to accept a bet on the occurrence of any of the winning combinations within the array.

3. The gaming machine according to claim 2 wherein the array is larger than five columns and three rows.

4. The gaming machine according to claim 1 wherein the machine will accept a bet that is one tenth the smallest denomination of local currency.

5. The gaming machine according to claim 1 wherein the machine will accept a bet that is one hundredth the smallest denomination of local currency.

6. The gaming machine according to claim 1 wherein the machine will accept a bet that is one thousandth the smallest denomination of local currency.

7. The gaming machine according to claim 1 wherein the winnings paid on a bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency is greater than the smallest denomination of local currency.

8. The gaming machine according to claim 5 wherein the winnings paid are divisible by the smallest denomination of local currency without remainder.

9. A method of operating a gaming machine having a display adapted to show separate sets of symbols, the method comprising the steps of: accepting a bet on one or more winning outcomes of a game of chance; and paying winnings of the occurrence of a winning outcome carrying a bet; wherein the machine is configured to accept a single bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency.

10. The method according to claim 9 wherein the game of chance involves an array of randomly selected symbols and the winning outcomes are predetermined winning combinations of symbols, and wherein the machine is adapted to accept a bet on the occurrence of any of the winning combinations within the array.

11. The method according to claim 10 wherein the array is larger than five columns and three rows.

12. The method according to claim 9 wherein the machine will accept a bet that is one tenth the smallest denomination of local currency.

13. The method according to claim 9 wherein the machine will accept a bet that is one hundredth the smallest denomination of local currency.

14. The method according to claim 9 wherein the machine will accept a bet that is one thousandth the smallest denomination of local currency.

15. The method according to claim 9 wherein the winnings paid on a bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency is greater than the smallest denomination of local currency.

16. The method according to claim 13 wherein the winnings paid are divisible by the smallest denomination of local currency without remainder.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to gaming machines. The invention has been developed primarily for computerized gaming machines and will be described herein with reference to that application. However, the invention is not limited to that particular field of use and is suitable for other applications.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Gaming machines have long been known and are now one of the most common forms of gambling. Usually gaming machines will simulate a well known game of chance. One of the oldest and best known forms of gaming machine is the rotating reel type “poker machine”. In light of its popularity, the present invention will be described with reference to this type of gaming machine. However it will be appreciated that it is equally applicable gaming machines other than the “rotating reel” type. Traditional poker machines use a series of three or more reels, each reel having symbols on its peripheral edge. The reels are rotated upon the placement of a bet and then stopped to produce an arrangement of randomly selected symbols. Winnings are paid if the random arrangement of symbols matches one of the predetermined winning combinations.

[0003] More recently, these gaming machines have been computerized with a video screen replacing the physically rotating reels. The display screen typically presents an array of symbols in five columns and three rows equating to the symbols that would normally be seen on the five physically rotating reels of an old style mechanical machine.

[0004] Gaming machines can “pay winnings” in a variety of ways. These include dispensing money, dispensing tokens that can be redeemed for money, or simply adding credits to a credit meter that can be used for placing future bets. or redeemed as money. Given the predominance of computerized gaining machines, winnings are most commonly awarded in the form of credits tallied on a credit meter. In light of this, the present invention will be described with the specific reference to the payment of winnings in this manner. However, those skilled in the art will readily understand that the term encompasses other award payment mechanisms.

[0005] Computerized machines have allowed players to bet on the symbols appearing in one or more rows or diagonals instead of just the middle row which was traditionally the only row available for betting on in the old style mechanical machines. Eventually, all the practical “pay lines” of symbols in the five column, three row array were being made available for players on most machines.

[0006] By allowing a bet on many different pay lines at one time enhances the game experience because of the number of essentially separate games on the one screen. However, players may be reluctant to use all available pay lines because the cost of placing a bet on each line may be more than the player is comfortable betting at any one time (that is, any single operating cycle of the game). One variant of this is used in the past is a gaming machine that attempts to obscure or dissociate the actually monetary value of bets placed by assigning multiple credits for each minimum bet. For example, 5 cents in monetary value buys 50 credits for betting on the gaming machine. The minimum bet accepted by the machine is 50 credits, however, to realize the actual monetary value of any bets being placed, the player must first perform the appropriate credits to dollars conversion.

[0007] This technique is also used to emphasis or exaggerate the value of any winnings by incrementally increasing the credit meter by numbers that are relatively large compared to the actual monetary value of the win. This is sometimes referred to in the field as the “pinball machine effect” because of the positive sense of bonus associated with large numbers scrolling onto the credit meter.

[0008] Despite this, players are soon familiar with the conversion between the monetary value of the minimum bet and the corresponding number of credits. Therefore, in time players will once again become mindful of the actual cost of placing a bet on each of the available pay lines and these costs may exceed a level with which they are comfortable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a gaming machine which overcomes or ameliorates at least one of the disadvantages of prior gaming machines, or to provides a useful alternative.

[0010] Further, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a gaming machine comprising means adapted to accept a bet on one or more winning outcomes of a game of chance; and means adapted to pay winnings on the occurrence of a winning outcome carrying a bet; wherein the machine is configured to accept a single bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency.

[0011] “Local currency is a reference to the monetary units in the country where the gaming machine is intended to be used. It is not necessarily a reference to the monetary units of the country in which the gaming machine is manufactured.

[0012] Preferably, the machine will accept a bet that is one tenth the smallest denomination of local currency. In other preferred forms, the machine will accept a bet that is one hundredth and one thousandth of the smallest denomination of local currency. In a particularly preferred form, the winnings paid on any bet that is less than the smallest denomination of local currency, will always be greater than or equal to the smallest denomination of local currency. In a still further preferred form, the winnings paid are always divisible by the smallest denomination of local currency without remainder.

[0013] In one embodiment of the present invention, the game of chance involves randomly selected symbols arranged in an array displayed on a video screen and the winning outcomes are particular winning combinations of the symbols within the array. In a preferred aspect of this form, the array is rectangular and the machine is configured to accept bets on the occurrence of any of the winning combinations of symbols along pay lines running through the array. The lines may also be angled or ‘zig zag’.

[0014] Recently, gaming machines have been developed that depart from the traditional five column, three row array of symbols. These machines can display larger arrays of symbols or even two separate arrays of symbols. Of course, a larger array or two separate arrays will allow the game designer to incorporate many additional pay lines. It will be appreciated that placing a bet on all available pay lines of a larger array or two separate arrays will require the player to risk a significant amount of money if the minimum bet is the smallest denomination of the local currency. However, if the machine is configured in accordance with the present invention, the minimum bet may be less than the smallest denomination of the local currency thereby encouraging players to bet on more, if not all, available pay lines.

[0015] By configuring the machine to accept a single bet of less value than the smallest denomination, the player can bet on a large number of pay lines simultaneously for substantially less money. In this way the player can enjoy the experience of playing many pay lines for longer than they would if their minimum bet had to be the smallest denomination of local currency. It also allows a player to place a single bet for less than the smallest denomination of local currency on only one pay line. This can appeal to more conservative gamblers seeking a low level of risk for each single operating cycle of the game.

[0016] These and other advantages will be apparent upon reading and understanding the specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawing in which:

[0018] FIG. 1 shows a schematic representation of the video screen display of a gaming machine configured in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0019] Referring to FIG. 1 which shows a schematic representation of the video screen display 10 of a gaming machine. The machine display shown is a “rotating reel” type poker machine. The player places a bet on the occurrence of certain winning combinations of symbols in the five column, three row array displayed in the lower portion of the screen 30. The winning combinations and the corresponding winnings paid are tabulated in the score card shown at the top half of the screen 20. FIG. 1 shows a generic or ‘blank’ game screen prior to the input of the various game details by the designer. Accordingly, the game name, the symbols and the scorecard values are shown as blank and zero respectively. However, in normal operation, the scorecard values would be consistent with the designated probability of the associated winning combination as well as the designated profit from the machine (that is, the set percentage of bets retained by the machine over time).

[0020] The machine is configured to accept separate bets on nine different pay lines in the array. By playing all nine pay lines, there is a greater chance of getting a winning combination. However, playing nine pay lines requires at least nine bets to be placed and this level of betting may be uncomfortable for some players even if the machine accepts the smallest denomination of local currency as a single bet. By configuring the machine such that it will accept bets of less than the smallest denomination of local currency, it is possible to play all available lines while maintaining a comfortable betting level for the player. This in turn tends to enhance the gaming experience as playing all lines increases the frequency of wins as well as the activity levels on the screen. This generates and maintains a higher level of player interest. The machine depicted in FIG. 1 is configured to assign 1000 credits for every dollar, or ten credits per cent. Therefore, even if the minimum bet is set at five credits, the player can play all nine pay lines for as little as 4.5 cents per spin of the reels.

[0021] Using gaming machines in accordance with the present invention, it is also possible to use an array of symbols that is larger than the traditional five column, three row array. A larger array of symbols makes possible a larger number of pay lines available for betting. By lowering the minimum acceptable bet, the player is able to play all available lines in a much larger array without departing from a comfortable betting level. Of course playing all available lines in a large array significantly increases the frequency of wins and the amount of screen activity during the game.

[0022] Gaming machines according to the present invention will also allow some players to extend their gaming experience by playing the same number of lines or even a single line for a lower minimum bet. In these cases, it is desirable to configure the scorecard so that every winning combination of symbols wins enough credits to make a whole denomination of local currency without any remainder. If the scorecard is set such that it will not always provide enough credits to convert a bet of a single credit into the equivalent of a whole denomination of local currency, the player can simply continue playing until sufficient credits are accumulated, or all credits are deplete.

[0023] The present invention has been described herein by way of example only. It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Other features and aspects of this invention will be appreciated by those skilled in the art upon reading and comprehending this disclosure. Such features, aspects, and expected variations and modifications of the reported results and examples are clearly within the scope of the invention where the invention is limited solely by the scope of the following claims.