Title:
Method and system for providing computer gaming
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved system and method for providing remote instant type lottery games is provided. The instant type games are presented on a portable gaming computer. Predetermined outcomes are pre-programmed into the gaming computer before it is provided to the player. This may be done by preprogramming a computer memory in the gaming computer with the outcomes during manufacture of the device. Thus, the gaming computer can be ready for play as soon as it is purchased, without any action necessary by the player or retailer to activate or enable play on the gaming computer. The predetermined outcomes of the games stored in the computer memory can be coded somewhere in or on the gaming computer, for example, in a bar code on the gaming computer or stored in a memory. The outcomes are read from the bar codes or memory during a redemption process and validated. Additionally, the gaming computer is provided with a “freeze” feature that may be activated by the player. When activated, the “freeze” feature prevents further play on the gaming computer. Any amounts that have been won by the player are “frozen” in the gaming computer, for example, on a display and in a memory. The freeze provides the player with a sense of security that they will not “lose” their winnings by further play or a gaming computer malfunction.



Inventors:
Wolfe, William W. (Annapolis, MD, US)
Application Number:
10/162219
Publication Date:
12/05/2002
Filing Date:
06/05/2002
Assignee:
WOLFE WILLIAM W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/08; G07F17/32; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070105625GAMING DEVICE METHODS AND APPARATUS EMPLOYING AUDIO/VIDEO PROGRAMMING OUTCOME PRESENTATIONMay, 2007Walker et al.
20010031660Method and apparatus for playing a game of chance over a computer networkOctober, 2001Wilk et al.
20100004058SHARED BONUS ON GAMING DEVICEJanuary, 2010Acres
20080076508Method and system for playing the game of chanceMarch, 2008Cvijetic
20060073891Display with multiple user privacyApril, 2006Holt
20050085284Game system, program, and information storage mediumApril, 2005Onoda et al.
20090100409Game Design ToolApril, 2009Toneguzzo
20060068921[LIGHT GUN]March, 2006Cheng et al.
20090298586INTERACTIVE DOCUMENT READERDecember, 2009Ackley et al.
20040043807Poker game with a second chance featureMarch, 2004Pennington
20040014523Method and apparatus for enrolling gaming device players into a player-tracking systemJanuary, 2004Kastner et al.



Primary Examiner:
COBURN, CORBETT B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VENABLE, BAETJER, HOWARD AND CIVILETTI, LLP (P.O. BOX 34385, WASHINGTON, DC, 20043-9998, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A system for providing a remote lottery game, comprising: a gaming computer having a program stored in a computer memory, the program generating one of a number of predetermined outcomes on a display when activated by a player, the predetermined outcomes being preprogrammed into the computer memory directly via a programming computer; a portable data storage unit associated with the portable gaming computer, the portable gaming computer storing an identifier and the predetermined outcomes programmed into the portable gaming computer; a central computer having a memory storing the identifiers for each gaming computer and associating the predetermined outcomes programmed into the gaming computer's computer memory with the unique identifier; and a validation computer for reading the portable data storage unit and generating a redemption request based thereon, communicating the redemption request to the central computer and receiving a validation message from the central computer, wherein the central computer includes processing means to compare the redemption request and the unique identifier and associated predetermined outcomes and generating the validation message based on the comparison.

2. A computer gaming device, comprising: a display; a locking button that when actuated by the player generates a stop signal; a computer processor; and a computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means for causing the computer processor to generate and present on the display a game that yields at least one of a number of predetermined outcomes, to keep a running balance of amounts won from the predetermined outcomes, and upon receipt of the stop signal, stores the amount of the current running balance and prevent additional games from being played.

3. The computer gaming device according to claim 2, wherein the computer readable memory further comprises computer readable program code means for causing the computer processor to set a flag indicating the stop signal has been generated.

4. The computer gaming device according to claim 2, wherein the computer readable memory further comprises computer readable program code means for causing the computer processor to generate a redemption request, the redemption request including the flag and the current running balance.

5. The computer gaming device according to claim 2, further comprising a play button that when actuated causes the computer processor to generate and present on the display the one game that yields at least one of the predetermined outcomes.

6. The computer gaming device according to claim 2, wherein the display is divided into a number of subfields, the game deploying alphanumeric characters in the sub fields.

7. The computer gaming device according to claim 6, wherein the game presents variations of the word “millionaire” on the display.

8. The computer gaming device according to claim 6, wherein the game displays one of 10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, and 100,000 on the display.

9. The computer gaming device according to claim 2, further comprising a second display the presents the running balance to the player.

10. The computer gaming device according to claim 2, further comprising a power button for turning the gaming device on and off.

11. A computer lottery system, comprising: a portable gaming device having a computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means for causing gaming device computer processor to generate and present on the display at least one game that yields at least one of a number of predetermined outcomes, to keep a running balance of amounts won from the displayed predetermined outcomes, and upon receipt of the stop signal, stores the amount of the current running balance, prevent additional games from being played and predetermined outcomes from being presented, to generate a redemption request, the redemption request including the flag and the current running balance; a central computer having a computer readable memory storing identifiers for each gaming device and associating the predetermined outcomes in the portable gaming device's computer readable memory with the unique identifier, the computer readable memory in the central computer storing computer readable program code means for causing a central computer processor to check the redemption request against the unique identifier and associated predetermined outcomes and generate a validation message in response to the redemption request, when the flag is set, the validation message includes an instruction to pay the current running balance; a validation computer receiving the redemption request from the gaming computer, communicating the redemption request to the central computer and receiving and processing the validation message to enable any payoff.

12. A method of providing a remote lottery game, comprising: generating a number of predetermined outcomes for the lottery game; and programming at least one of the predetermined outcomes into a memory of a gaming computer before the gaming computer is presented at a point of sale.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising validating the gaming device at the point of sale.

14. The method of claim 12, further comprising associating the predetermined outcomes stored in the memory with an identifier for the gaming computer.

15. The method of claim 12, wherein the gaming computer comprises a program stored in a computer memory, the program generating one of the number of predetermined outcomes that are stored in the memory on a display when activated by a player.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising progressively revealing the predetermined outcomes on the display.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein a player selects the progressive revealing.

18. The method of claim 12, wherein the predetermined outcomes are programmed into the memory before payment for the gaming computer.

19. A computer gaming device, comprising: a display; player input controls; a computer processor; and a computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means for causing the computer processor to generate and present on the display a game that yields at least one of a number of predetermined outcomes, the predetermined outcome being revealed on the display in a progressive manner in response to input from the player input controls.

20. The gaming device of claim 19 wherein the player input controls comprise a membrane keypad.

21. The gaming device of claim 19 further comprising means for generating sound associated with the predetermined outcomes.

22. A computer gaming device, comprising: means for displaying images to a player; means for receiving input from the player; means for processing; and a computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means for causing the means for processing to generate and present on the means for displaying a game that yields at least one of a number of predetermined outcomes, the predetermined outcome being revealed on the means for displaying in a progressive manner in response to input from the means for receiving.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to gaming systems, and more particularly, to a lottery system in which lottery games typically embodied in a ticket having multiple chances which represent a single outcome offered by a lottery authority are rendered on a gaming computer such as, for example, a dedicated hand-held device or programmed general personal computer, which enables a player to reveal the ticket outcome with the same convenience as typical paper scratch-off tickets at any location without the gaming computer ever having to be physically or electronically connected to a lottery system network during play, thereby providing enhanced play value for the player and greater revenues for the lottery authority.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] In one type of common prior art paper instant ticket system, a computer generates a randomized prize datastream comprised of a finite series of win/lose outcomes. Each outcome is assigned to a lottery ticket, and each ticket contains one or more game chances which yield the assigned outcome. The player cannot change the ticket outcome, he or she merely scratches off certain areas of the ticket in accordance with the rules of the game to reveal the outcome. The ticket contains indicia which provide the player with a means to determine win/lose results or prize status, and the type of prize (e.g., cash or a free ticket). The aggregate of all winning outcomes in any randomized prize datastream is a predetermined percentage payout of the total revenues that would be generated by the sale of all of the tickets incorporating that particular randomized prize datastream.

[0003] Each ticket is assigned a unique ticket serial number for validation purposes which identifies that ticket with a specific outcome, and a batch number which links the ticket to a master carton in which groups of tickets are shipped to lottery retailers in specific quantities. The ticket serial number is usually concealed beneath the foil of the ticket. The batch number is typically visible on the ticket in the form of a bar code. All tickets in a given master carton are part of the same ticket lot and are sold at the same price point. Each master carton is labeled with a unique master carton serial number which is tracked by a central computer associated with the lottery authority. The central computer also stores every ticket serial number and the associated outcome for that ticket. When the instant tickets are to be sold to customers, the lottery retailer communicates the master carton serial number via his on-line agent terminal to the lottery central computer and thereby activates all of the paper instant tickets in each master carton. This action activates all of the ticket serial numbers in that master carton, and typically causes the lottery retailer's lottery bank account to be automatically debited for the wholesale cost of that master carton within a specified time period.

[0004] To redeem a winning paper lottery ticket, the player presents the same to a redeeming agent, either at a lottery retailer or lottery office, or mails the ticket in for redemption. To effectuate the redemption process, the redeeming agent scans the bar code on the ticket which represents the batch serial number on the ticket through a bar code scanner associated with the agent terminal. The ticket agent also enters the ticket serial number into the agent terminal. These ticket serial numbers are transmitted to the central computer for purposes of validation. When the central computer receives a validation request, it activates an on-line validation program which queries a ticket value database using the particular ticket and batch serial numbers to confirm that the ticket came from an activated master carton. If the ticket value database confirms a payout, the validation program authorizes the lottery retailer to pay the player cash or provide another prize (e.g., a free ticket).

[0005] In other paper instant ticket systems, there is no lottery central computer which manages the system. The lottery retailer simply buys tickets from a printer, resells them to players, and then handles all aspects of validation and payment of winnings.

[0006] Paper instant ticket systems suffer from several drawbacks. These include the costs of printing tickets, the physical inventory costs, the costs to the lottery authority and retailer associated with unsold tickets, the inability to effectively offer low-price games (e.g., $0.25, $0.10), the limited game choices for the player, and the stigma associated with paper tickets as appealing toward lower income players, among others.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 6,024,640 to Walker et al., incorporated herein by reference, describes a system for playing instant-type lottery games on a gaming computer. This system is described generally below. The Walker et al. system overcomes some of the drawbacks associated with the paper instant ticket systems. However, the system disclosed in the '640 patent has its own drawbacks. The player purchases a number of predetermined outcomes from a lottery retailer. After purchase of the predetermined outcomes, the predetermined outcomes are obtained from a central computer and then must be loaded onto the gaming computer. The predetermined outcomes are loaded onto the gaming computer at the point of sale and after purchase by the player. A complex series of computer processes are initiated by the lottery retailer's computer to obtain the predetermined outcomes from the central computer after purchase by the player. The lottery retailer's computer provides a coded message, in response to the communications with the central computer, containing the predetermined outcomes from the central computer. The player or lottery retailer enters the coded message into the gaming computer. The coded message causes the gaming computer to generate the predetermined outcomes to enable play on the gaming computer.

[0008] Consequently, in the Walker et al. system, the gaming computer can only be activated at certain locations where the lottery retailer's computers are present. Thus, the availability of and access to the gaming computers is limited. Moreover, after purchasing the gaming computer, some type of initialization action must be taken for the gaming computer to be used. For example, the coded message must be entered into the gaming computer by the player to enable play. This complicates game play and also allows for errors to occur during entry of the coded message into the gaming computer. This also causes a delay before the player can begin playing the game, taking away from the instant aspect of the game. Furthermore, the Walker et al. system requires the lottery authority and lottery retailers to acquire hardware and software in additional to that used in conjunction with traditional paper instant tickets.

[0009] Thus, there is a need for a simple and cost effective process to provide instant-type lottery games on gaming computers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, an improved system and method for providing remote instant type lottery games is provided. The instant type games are presented on a portable gaming computer. Predetermined outcomes are pre-programmed into the portable gaming computer. The pre-programming is preferably done during manufacture of the portable gaming computer and not at the point of sale. Games that yield at least one of the predetermined outcomes are presented on a display. In other words, the portable gaming computer is programmed at a central location and is presented to the player as a ready to play unit. Thus, the gaming computer can be sold at virtually any location and does not necessarily require activation to be played. However, there may be a validation process that is carried out before any winnings from playing the gaming computer are paid out.

[0011] Hence, the present invention provides a system for providing a remote lottery game. According to one embodiment, the system comprises a gaming computer having a program stored in a computer memory. When activated by a player, the program generates one of a number of predetermined outcomes on a display. The predetermined outcomes are pre-programmed into the computer memory directly via a programming computer. A portable data storage unit is associated with the portable gaming computer. The portable data storage unit stores an identifier for the gaming computer and the predetermined outcomes programmed into that gaming computer. A central computer is provided with a memory storing the identifiers for each gaming computer and associating the predetermined outcomes programmed into the gaming computer's computer memory with the identifier for that gaming computer. A validation computer is provided for reading the portable data storage unit and generating a redemption request based thereon, communicating the redemption request to the central computer and receiving a validation message from the central computer. The central computer may also include processing means to compare the redemption request and the identifier and associated predetermined outcomes for the gaming computer and to generate the validation message based on the comparison.

[0012] In another embodiment of the invention, a portable computer gaming computer is provided. The portable gaming computer comprises a computer processor, a display and a locking button that when actuated by the player generates a stop signal. A computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means causes the computer processor to generate and present on the display at least one game that yields at least one of the predetermined outcomes, to keep a running balance of amounts won from the predetermined outcomes, and upon receipt of the stop signal, to store the amount of the current running balance and prevent additional games from being played.

[0013] In a further embodiment, the computer readable memory further comprises computer readable program code means for causing the computer processor to set a flag indicating the stop signal has been generated. Additionally, the computer readable program code means may also cause the computer processor to generate a redemption request, the redemption request including the flag and the current running balance.

[0014] According to another embodiment of the invention, a computer lottery system is provided. The system includes a portable gaming computer having a computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means therein. The program code causes the gaming computer's computer processor to generate and present on the display at least one game that yields at least one of the predetermined outcomes, to keep a running balance of amounts won from the displayed predetermined outcomes, and upon receipt of the stop signal, stores the amount of the current running balance, prevent additional games from being played and predetermined outcomes from being presented, to generate a redemption request, the redemption request including the flag and the current running balance. A central computer is provided with a computer readable memory storing identifiers for each gaming computer and associating the predetermined outcomes in the portable gaming computer's computer readable memory with the unique identifier. The computer readable memory in the central computer stores computer readable program code means for causing a central computer processor to check the redemption request against the unique identifier and associated predetermined outcomes and generate a validation message in response to the redemption request. When the flag is set, the validation message includes an instruction to pay the current running balance. A validation computer is provided to receive the redemption request from the gaming computer, communicate the redemption request to the central computer and receive and process the validation message to enable any payoff.

[0015] Another embodiment of the invention includes a method of providing a remote lottery game. A number of predetermined outcomes for the lottery game are generated. At least one of the predetermined outcomes is programmed into a memory of a gaming computer before the gaming computer is presented at a point of sale. The gaming computer may be validated at the point of sale. The predetermined outcomes stored in the memory can be associated with an identifier for the gaming computer. In another embodiment, the predetermined outcomes are programmed into the memory before payment for the gaming computer.

[0016] In a further embodiment, the gaming computer comprises a program stored in a computer memory. The program generates on a display one of the number of predetermined outcomes that are stored in the memory when activated by a player. The predetermined outcomes may be progressively revealed on the display. The player can select the manner in which the predetermined outcomes are progressive revealed.

[0017] In another exemplary embodiment, a computer gaming device is provided. The device comprises a display, player input controls, and a computer processor. A computer readable memory stores computer readable program code means for causing the computer processor to generate and present on the display a game that yields at least one of the predetermined outcomes. The predetermined outcome may be revealed on the display in a progressive manner in response to input from the player input controls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematics of a gaming computer according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0019] FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the central computer;

[0020] FIG. 3 is a diagram of an exemplary memory arrangement in the central computer;

[0021] FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the components in a gaming computer;

[0022] FIG. 5 is a block diagram of the controller in the gaming computer; and

[0023] FIG. 6 is a diagram of an exemplary memory arrangement in the gaming computer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0024] The present invention provides a lottery system whereby instant “tickets” or pseudo-choice games with a predetermined outcome can be rendered on a gaming computer. The gaming computer may be any personal computer, personal digital assistant or the like. Using the gaming computer, a player can participate in a lottery at any location as with instant paper tickets and be provided with enhanced play value through computer simulation of games on the gaming computer.

[0025] In an exemplary embodiment, the predetermined outcomes are pre-programmed into the gaming computer before it is provided to the player. That is, the gaming computer is programmed with the predetermined outcomes before it arrives at the point of sale or before purchase by a player. This may be done by pre-programming a computer memory in the gaming computer with the predetermined outcomes during manufacture of the gaming computer. Thus, the gaming computer can be ready for play as soon as it is purchased, without any action necessary by the player or retailer to activate or enable play on the gaming computer. Accordingly, the gaming computer can be offered for sale at any location. The predetermined outcomes of the games stored in the computer memory may also be coded in a portable data storage unit associated with the gaming computer. The portable data storage unit may be, for example, a bar code on the gaming computer or in a memory of the gaming computer. The portable data storage unit may also store an identifier for the gaming computer. The predetermined outcomes and identifier may be read from the bar codes or memory during a redemption process, described below, and validated.

[0026] When a bar code is used as the portable data storage unit, the gaming computer can be used in connection with the redemption system for paper instant tickets described above. For example, to effectuate the redemption process, the lottery retailer scans the bar code on the gaming computer which represents the predetermined outcomes programmed in the gaming computer and the identifier for the gaming computer through a bar code scanner associated with an agent terminal. A central computer activates an on-line validation program which queries a database using the particular gaming computer identifier and the predetermined outcomes to confirm the redemption request. If this information is confirmed, the validation program authorizes the lottery retailer to pay the player. Thus, no additional hardware of software is needed by the lottery retailer or lottery authority. If a bar code is used as a portable storage unit, the barcode representing the predetermined outcomes should be arranged on the gaming computer so it can not be read before the gaming computer is purchased or is removed from its individual packaging. For example, the bar code may be covered with a thin layer of latex similar to that used in scratch-off games.

[0027] In a further embodiment, the gaming computer is provided with a lock or “freeze” feature that may be activated by the player. When activated, the “freeze” feature prevents further play on the gaming computer. Any amounts that have been won by the player are “frozen” in the gaming computer, for example, on a display of the current amount won and in a memory. The freeze feature provides the player with a sense of security that they will not “lose” their winnings by further play or a gaming computer malfunction. The player can then redeem the amounts frozen. Any amount of winnings resulting from predetermined outcomes not revealed may be forfeited. The gaming computer may also be programmed to show advertisements on its display. For example, after every ten plays, an advertisement is shown to the player.

[0028] A preferred embodiment of a gaming computer 2 is shown in FIG. 1A. An alphanumeric display 3 is provided to display information regarding the game being played by the user. The display 3 may include two general fields. A first field 4 of the display 3 indicates the remaining number of predetermined outcomes or “plays” in the gaming computer 2. This field 4 of display 3 may count down to zero, indicating no more plays remain or it may count up to the number of plays purchased. A second field 5 of the display 3 shows the results of the game being played by the player. The second field 5 may be divided into a number of sub-fields that present items indicating winning and losing plays.

[0029] According to one embodiment of the invention, the object of the game is to have the word “Millionaire” shown on the display 3. When this word appears, the player wins the “grand prize”, for example, one million dollars. Accordingly, in field 5, ten sub-fields 5a-5j are provided as shown in FIG. 1A. Each sub-field 5a-5j can display one of the letters of the word “Millionaire”. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1A, the letter “M” is already provided to the player. If the sub-fields 5a-5j of the display 3 spell the remainder of the word “Millionaire” after a play, the player wins the grand prize. If “Millionaire” does not appear, the player did not win on that particular play and may continuing playing. Play may continue until the field 4 indicates no plays remain in the gaming computer. Of course, any word other than “Millionaire” may also be used to indicate a winner. Moreover, many other items or games, such as cards, slot machines, current scratch-off games, etc., can be shown on the display 3.

[0030] In a further embodiment, the field 5 of display 3 may spell words or present numbers in addition to the grand prize word. For example, six of the sub-fields 5a-5j may also be designated as “winners”. These sub-fields may display one of the amounts of $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000, or $100,000. When any of these amounts is shown, the player wins that amount of money. A winner display 6 may also be provided on the gaming computer to display a running total of the amount the player has won. As play continues and the player wins additional amounts, these amounts are added to the running total and shown in the winner display 6.

[0031] Still referring to FIG. 1A, the operation of an embodiment of the gaming computer is now briefly described. Three basic player controls may be provided for operating the gaming computer 2. Button 7 is an on/off button that turns the gaming computer on and off. During periods of non-use, the gaming computer may be turned off to conserve battery power. Button 8 is a play button. Depressing button 8 activates the game and causes the predetermined outcomes to be shown on the display 3. Button 9 is a lock button. Depressing this button “freezes” the gaming computer in its current state. Thus, the gaming computer can no longer be played. Additionally, when button 9 is depressed, the information in field 5 of display 3 and in winning display 6 is frozen and cannot be changed. This feature is particularly useful after the player has a winning play and wishes to secure the gaming computer so it can easily be verified. Any additional winning plays or predetermined outcomes that may remain on the gaming computer and are not played after the gaming computer is frozen are preferably not paid to the player. Only the amount shown in winner display is paid. A more detailed description of the operation of the gaming computer is provided below.

[0032] Another embodiment of a gaming computer 2 is shown in FIG. 1B. This embodiment also includes a display 3, play button 8, and on/off button 7. The display 3 can illustrate any type of image, for example, pictorial and/or alphanumerical images. The gaming computer 2 shown in FIG. 1B. includes additional player controls. A game button 200 allows the player to select from a number of different games that may be programmed in the gaming computer 2. Buttons 202a-g are provided under corresponding areas of the display 3. For example, each button 202 may be arranged under a corresponding sub-field 5a-5g. By actuating a button 202 under one of the sub-fields 5a-5g, the image corresponding to that sub-field is revealed. For example, actuating button 202a reveals the image in sub-field 5a. The remaining sub-fields are not revealed until the player actuates the corresponding button. The buttons may be actuated in any order. Thus, the player can control the way in which the predetermined outcome is revealed on the display. The revealing of the images can simulate the scratching of an instant ticket. Other methods for progressively revealing the predetermined outcome can also be used. A keypad 204 may be provided for the player to enter security codes, passwords, or other information.

[0033] Turning now to FIG. 2, there is depicted a lottery system generally characterized in a first embodiment by the reference numeral 10, and principally comprised of a lottery authority 11 having a central computer 12, a programming computer 13, a network 14 which provides remote terminal access to the central computer 12 and connects the programming computer to the central computer, a plurality of agent terminals (AT) 16 associated with various lottery retailers 18, and a plurality of gaming computer units 20 which reveal purchased “tickets” outcomes. The term “lottery authority” is used in the general sense and is intended to include any wagering authority which sells no choice (e.g., scratch-off lottery tickets, bingo or a sweepstakes) or pseudo-choice (e.g., video poker) games or races of skill having a predetermined outcome if the player plays correctly. The term “lottery retailers” includes any merchant where an AT 16 is located. Also, the central computer 12 and the programming computer 13 may be the same computer.

[0034] FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram depicting an overview of the system components according to one embodiment of the invention. The central computer 12, network 14 and ATs 16 may be connected in similar fashion as those in the prior art used to dispense and instant paper tickets. With respect to the present invention, each AT 16 may include a bar code scanner or other scanning device 24, a communications interface 26 for physically coupling the gaming computer 20 to the AT 16 to electrically communicate signals with the gaming computer 20 through a compatible communications interface 92 in the gaming computer 20, and/or a read/write interface 27 for reading and writing data to data memory media such as a smart card. These may be used to read and verify the predetermined outcomes stored on the gaming computer 20 during a redemption process, described below.

[0035] FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing details of the central computer 12, which generally includes a CPU 30, memory 32, an I/O interface 34 for loading programs into memory 32, and a communications interface 35 for communicating through the network 14 with the programming computer and the ATs 16. The central computer 12 may also communicate through a base station network 15 with a plurality of base stations having transceivers for broadcasting and receiving RF signals to communicate messages directly between the central computer 12 and the gaming computer 20 in an alternative embodiment. The central computer has software or firmware (hereinafter referred to as “programs” and “data”) which are used to implement various functions in the system. FIG. 4 depicts an exemplary memory arrangement of programs and data stored in the central computer 12. Memory 32 includes an operating system program 33 which controls the central computer 12 in a conventional manner and need not be described in detail. The central computer 12 preferably has a memory area 36 in memory 32 for each gaming computer 20 in which specific information is stored to enable the central computer 12 to keep track of what has been assigned to that gaming computer 20 to provide for the redemption of winnings and to ensure that the gaming computer 20 is a verified unit in connection with a given transaction. Data in memory 36 may be retrieved and updated as required in order to perform the desired functions.

[0036] A gaming computer 20 should be initially registered with the lottery authority 11 when it is programmed. In this connection, identification information is initially stored in memory 32 of the central computer 12. The identification information includes a unit identifier or gaming computer ID stored in a field 37 and optionally an outcome variable stored in a field 38. The ID may constitute an identifier which is unique to each gaming computer 20. Similarly, the outcome variable may constitute a representation of the predetermined outcomes which have been programmed onto the particular gaming computer 20. In one exemplary embodiment, outcome variable is used as a way to prevent fraud. This may be done by comparing the predetermined outcomes stored in field 38 in the central computer with the outcomes read from the gaming computer during the redemption process. Any differences between these two sets of outcomes indicate the gaming computer has been tampered with and the outcomes should be voided. The total amount of winning assigned to the gaming computer may be stored in field 39.

[0037] A block diagram of a memory 40 of a programming computer is shown in FIG. 5. The programming computer generally includes a CPU, memory 40, an I/O interface for loading programs into memory 40, and a communications interface for communicating through the network 14 with the central computer. Memory 40 includes an operating system program 41 which controls the programming computer in a conventional manner and need not be described in detail. The programming computer preferably includes a program 42 stored in memory for generating a random prize datastream (“RPD”) 44 which is a pool containing a finite series of win/lose outcomes F1 . . . Fn (e.g., . . . win $2, win $2, lose, lose, win $10, lose, lose . . . etc). The aggregate of all winning outcomes in any RPD 44 may be a predetermined percentage payout of the total revenues to be generated by the sale of all “tickets” represented by the outcomes in the RPD 44. When a gaming computer is programmed, the programming computer utilizes an outcome assignment program 48 which randomly selects outcomes from the RPD 44 to be assigned to a particular gaming computer 20. The gaming computer's ID and outcomes associated with the ID are communicated to central computer 12 via the network or any other means and stored in fields 37 and 38, respectively. The predetermined outcomes are programmed or stored into the memory of the gaming computer.

[0038] Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, the gaming computer 20 in a preferred embodiment is a hand-held unit having a controller 82, a display 3, and player controls 86. Preferably the gaming computer 20 includes one or more of the following: a printer interface 88a for connecting the gaming computer 20 to an external printer, an internal printer 88b, a bar code scanner 90, a communications interface 92 compatible for connecting the gaming computer 20 to the communications interface 26 associated with an AT 16 to enable the gaming computer 20 to electrically communicate directly with the AT 16, a read/write interface 94 for reading data from and writing data to a smart card, a modem 96 for connecting the gaming computer 20 directly to a network 14 coupled to the central computer 12 in an alternative embodiment, and an antenna 115 coupled to a transceiver for broadcasting and receiving messages to and from a base station associated with central computer 12 in another alternative embodiment.

[0039] The player controls 86 may be integrated into display 3 in a touch-screen arrangement of the type known in the art. The display 3 may also include the capability to render messages in a bar code readable format to enable them to be scanned by the bar code scanner 24 coupled to the AT 16. The player controls 86 allow the player to play the various games and enable the freeze feature. The controller 82 may include a CPU 98, a clock 101 and memory 100 comprised of ROM and RAM in a conventional arrangement. The controller 82 may be optionally housed in a tamper-evident enclosure to reveal to the lottery authority 11 any suspected tampering with the gaming computer. The CPU 98 communicates with the player controls 86 through a control interface 103, and with video generation hardware 104 for driving the display 3, and sound generation hardware 106 coupled to a speaker 108 for communicating game sounds. The CPU 98 communicates with the printer interface 88a or the internal printer 88b, bar code scanner 90, interface 92, read/write interface 94, and modem 96 through conventional I/O interfaces shown generally in the block diagram at 114. The CPU 98 may communicate with RF circuitry 113 coupled to an antenna 115 for communicating messages directly with the central computer 12 via the base station.

[0040] Referring now to FIG. 8, there is depicted an exemplary memory arrangement 100 of programs and data in the gaming computer 20. Memory 100 includes an operating system generally indicated by the reference numeral 117 which controls the gaming computer 20 in a conventional manner. With respect to the present invention, the other programs and data in memory 100 enable the gaming computer 20 to generate games which yield the predetermined outcomes. As described above with respect to the central computer memory 32, each gaming computer may store an identifier (ID) in field 116. A password (or multiple passwords for multiple players on a single gaming computer 20) may be stored in field 122. When a player activates the gaming computer 20, a password security program 124 checks the player's password in a conventional manner before allowing the player to continue. The predetermined outcomes are stored in field 132. Accompanying this data may be the price point for each outcome in field 136, the net payoff in field 138, and the time/date of entry in field 140.

[0041] The gaming computer memory 100 also includes an accounting program 154 which directs the gaming computer 20 to calculate the running cash balance which is stored in an account 155 in field 156. The amount stored in account 155 may be displayed in winner display 6.

[0042] The gaming computer memory also includes a lock program 158. The lock program 158 is initiated when the player triggers button 9. This actuation sends a signal the gaming computer's central processor 98. As mentioned above, the lock feature locks-in the current amount won and prevent further play of the gaming computer. Accordingly, the lock program 158 communicates with the accounting program 154 and instructs the accounting program 154 to make no changes to account 155 after the signal is received. The amount stored in account 155 is saved in memory and preferably cannot be altered. The lock program 158 also communicates with the operating system 117. The operating system 117 is directed to control the gaming computer's operation such that the player cannot access any remaining plays on the gaming computer. Additionally, the lock program 158 sets a freeze flag 160 in the gaming computer's memory. When set, the freeze flag 160 indicates a player has activated the freeze feature by triggering button 9. The freeze flag 160 is detected during the redemption process, described below, so that the correct amount is paid to the player. That is, the amount stored in account 155 and not the amount associated with all the predetermined outcomes that have been assigned to the gaming computer, is paid to the player.

[0043] The gaming computer memory further includes a redemption program 162 which is used to cash-out the player's current credit balance in the player's account 155. The redemption program 162 enables the player to select a cash-out function on the gaming computer 20. The redemption program 158 then directs the gaming computer 20 to generate a redemption request message RRM which is communicated to the central computer 12. Redemption request messages RRM are used by the redemption program 79 in the central computer 12 to verify cash-out requests by comparing gaming computer identification data and outcome data (net winnings, the number of games played) for a given gaming computer 20. In an exemplary embodiment, the redemption request message includes the freeze flag and the amount in account 155. The central computer evaluates this information and generates a validation message. For example, if the freeze flag is set, the central computer compares the amount in account 155 with the amount stored in net payoff field 138. If the amount in account 155 is less than the amount in field 138, the validation message instructs the lottery retailer to pay the amount in account 155. The central computer may also compare the amounts in field 138 and account 155 to determine if the gaming computer has been tampered with.

[0044] The redemption request message RRM may be generated on the display 3 of the gaming computer 20 and orally provided to the agent at a lottery retailer 18 for manual entry into the AT 16. The redemption request message RRM can be printed onto a receipt, either by an internal or external printer 88b associated with the gaming computer 20, or by a printer 22 at the lottery retailer via the printer interface 88a, which receipt is then provided to the agent. In this connection, the redemption request message RRM may be rendered on the display 3 or on the receipt 30 in a bar code readable format and scanned by the bar code scanner 24 at the AT 16. In another embodiment, the barcode is placed on the gaming computer during manufacture in an area where in cannot be read until the gaming computer is removed from its packaging. In another embodiment, the redemption request message RRM may be written to the smart card and then read therefrom by the AT 16. In yet another embodiment, the redemption request message RRM can be communicated to the central computer 12 over the telephone network 14 via the modem 96. In still another embodiment, the redemption request message RRM may be communicated from the gaming computer 20 to the central computer 12 through an RF transmission to either the AT 16 or the central computer 12. The redemption request message RRM may be encrypted by the gaming computer 20 using an authentication/encryption program in its memory for subsequent decryption by the central computer 12 using an authentication/encryption program in its memory. The redemption request message RRM can be encrypted using encryption keys known only to the central computer 12 and the specific gaming computer 20. These may include the ID and the outcome variable.

[0045] The gaming computer memory 100 may include an audit program 166 which stores a record of all activity performed on the gaming computer 20 to assist in protecting data integrity and to verify that the various programs in memory 100 have not been tampered with. The audit program 160 further provides a record of player activity for the player and the lottery authority 11 in the event of any dispute.

[0046] Accordingly, a method and system for providing hand held lottery games is provided. The lottery game may be a palm sized, hand held, calculator like, device, powered by battery. A player plays the game and various combinations of alphanumeric characters appear on a screen. Different combinations indicate winners, such as spelling out “millionaire”. The device contains a programmable aspect that will allow for a predetermined outcome of the game, so that over the production of multiple units, an overall percentage of winning combinations will be known before the game is played. The game is programmed by a central computer system. The game/device may also contain “coding” on the reverse side to allow for a link to the central computer system. The game coding can be read at remote locations, such as lottery sales sites, to determine winning devices. The remote locations can communicate with the central system to verify winning games. The system can identify all of the devices of a similar type, and display information relevant to the validity of a “winning” combination of numbers and letters.

[0047] The embodiments illustrated and discussed in this specification are intended only to teach those skilled in the art the best way known to the inventors to make and use the invention. Nothing in this specification should be considered as limiting the scope of the present invention. The above-described embodiments of the invention may be modified or varied, and elements added or omitted, without departing from the invention, as appreciated by those skilled in the art in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that, within the scope of the claims and their equivalents, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.