Title:
System and method for providing computer gaming
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for providing remote instant type lottery games is provided. The instant type games are provided on a preprogrammed game cartridge for use on a portable gaming computer. The preprogrammed game cartridge is preloaded with one or more games before it is provided to the player. Each game includes a fixed number of plays and a preprogrammed amount of winnings. Each play contributes toward one or more predetermined outcomes, and some outcomes may be considered a winning. The preprogramming of the game cartridge may be done by preprogramming a cartridge memory in the game cartridge with the outcomes during manufacture of the cartridge, afterwards by a central computer or at a plurality of agent terminals where additional plays may be purchased and loaded into the cartridge. Outcomes, including winnings, may be stored on the cartridge memory and retrieved at one or more of the above computers or terminals.



Inventors:
Wolfe, Bill (Severna Park, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/248615
Publication Date:
05/04/2006
Filing Date:
10/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F3/08; G07F17/32
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
TORIMIRO, ADETOKUNBO OLUSEGUN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VENABLE LLP (P.O. BOX 34385, WASHINGTON, DC, 20045-9998, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. For use with a computer gaming device for executing computer readable program code; a programmed game cartridge comprising: a computer readable memory for storing a computer readable program code for execution by the computer gaming device, wherein the computer readable program code includes instructions for causing the computer gaming device i) to generate and present a game for yielding at least one of a number of predetermined outcomes, ii) to keep a running balance of amounts won from the predetermined outcomes, and iii) upon receipt of a stop signal, to store the amount of the running balance and prevent other games from being played; and a connector for electrically connecting the programmed game cartridge to the computer gaming device.

2. The programmed game cartridge of claim 1, further comprising: a controller for providing access to the computer readable memory.

3. The programmed game cartridge of claim 1, further comprising: one or more additional computer readable memories for storing the computer readable program code.

4. The programmed game cartridge of claim 3, wherein the one or more additional computer readable memories are electrically coupled to at least one of the connector and the controller.

5. A programmed game cartridge of claim 1, further comprising: a battery for providing power to at least one of the programmer game cartridge or the computer gaming device.

6. A programmed game cartridge of claim 1, wherein electronic fraud protection is implemented on the programmed game cartridge.

7. A programmed game cartridge of claim 1, wherein the programmed game cartridge is securely packaged.

8. The programmed game cartridge of claim 1, wherein the computer readable memory further comprises computer readable program code means for causing the computer gaming device to set a flag indicating the stop signal has been generated.

9. The programmed game cartridge of claim 1, 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.

10. A system for providing a remote lottery game, comprising: a programmed game cartridge, for use with a gaming computer, with 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, wherein the programmed game cartridge stores an identifier and the predetermined outcomes; a central computer having a memory storing the identifiers for each programmed game cartridge and associating the predetermined outcomes programmed into the programmed game cartridge's computer memory with the unique identifier; and a validation computer for reading the programmed game cartridge 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.

11. A computer lottery system, comprising: a programmed game cartridge, for use with a gaming computer device, having a computer readable memory storing computer readable program code means for causing the gaming computer device to generate and present on a 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 a stop signal, stores the amount of a 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 programmed game cartridge and associating the predetermined outcomes in the programmed game cartridge'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; and 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 programmed game cartridge before the programmed game cartridge is presented at a point of sale.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising validating the programmed game cartridge at the point of sale.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising associating the predetermined outcomes stored in the memory with an identifier for the programmed game cartridge.

15. The method of claim 13, 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 13, wherein the predetermined outcomes are programmed into the memory before presentation for the programmed game cartridge.

17. A computer gaming device, comprising: a display; player input controls; and a programmed game cartridge having a computer readable memory for storing a computer readable program code for execution by the computer gaming device and a connector for electrically connecting the programmed game cartridge to the computer gaming device, wherein the computer readable memory stores computer readable program code for causing the computer gaming device 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.

18. The gaming device of claim 17, wherein the player input controls include a membrane keypad.

19. A computer gaming device, comprising: means for displaying images to a player; means for receiving input from the player; and a programmed game cartridge means having a computer readable memory means for storing a computer readable program code means for execution by the computer gaming device and a connector means for electrically connecting the programmed game cartridge means to the computer gaming device, wherein the computer readable memory means stores computer readable program code means for causing the computer gaming device 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, further comprising: means for generating sound associated with the predetermined outcomes.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/162,219, filed on Jun. 5, 2002, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/295,582, filed on Jun. 5, 2001, the contents of both are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

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.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In one type of conventional paper instant ticket system, a ticket generation system produces 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.

As a matter of practice, 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. A central system may also store 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.

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 system for purposes of validation. When the central system receives a validation request, it validates a ticket's value using the particular ticket and batch serial numbers to confirm that the ticket came from an activated master carton. If the ticket's value is confirmed as a proper payout, the system authorizes the lottery retailer to pay the player cash or provide another prize (e.g., a free ticket).

In other paper instant ticket systems, there is no lottery central system 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.

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.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,024,640 to Walker et al., incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, describes a system for playing instant-type lottery games on a gaming computer. The Walker et al. system overcomes some of the drawbacks associated with the paper instant ticket systems; however, the system has its drawbacks. According to the '640 patent, 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.

Consequently, in the game system of the '640 patent, 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 game system of the '640 patent requires the lottery authority and lottery retailers to acquire hardware and software in additional to that used in conjunction with traditional paper instant tickets.

In addition, an increased use of hand-held game devices is a result of the need for portability and accessibility in games, and such features are needed for lottery ticket games. Furthermore, the need for a simple and cost effective process to provide instant-type lottery games which allows players to control how many “plays” between trips to a lottery retailer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes an improved system and method for providing remote instant type lottery games using preprogrammed game cartridges for use in portable gaming computers. The instant type games are presented on a portable gaming cartridge which serves the above-stated needs. Predetermined outcomes are pre-programmed into the portable gaming cartridge. The pre-programming may be done during manufacture of the portable gaming cartridge or at the point of sale. Alternatively, the portable gaming cartridge may be updated with new programming at one or more locations. Games that yield at least one of the predetermined outcomes are presented on a display. In embodiments of the present invention, the portable gaming cartridge may be programmed at a central location and presented to a player at the same location with a portable gaming computer as a ready to play units. Thus, the gaming cartridge 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 cartridge on the gaming computer are paid out.

In another embodiment of the invention, a programmed game cartridge for use with a computer gaming device for executing computer readable program code is provided. The cartridge comprising a computer readable memory for storing a computer readable program code for execution by the computer gaming device, wherein the computer readable program code includes instructions for causing the computer gaming device i) to generate and present a game for yielding at least one of a number of predetermined outcomes, ii) to keep a running balance of amounts won from the predetermined outcomes, and iii) upon receipt of a stop signal, to store the amount of the running balance and prevent other games from being played; and a connector for electrically connecting the programmed game cartridge to the computer gaming device.

According to embodiments of the present invention, a system for a remote lottery game on a cartridge is provided. According to one embodiment, the system comprises a gaming cartridge having a program stored in a computer memory. When inserted into a gaming computer and activated by a player, the program generates one of a number of predetermined outcomes on a display of the gaming computer. The predetermined outcomes may be pre-programmed into the computer memory directly via a programming computer. In embodiments of the present invention, a portable data storage unit is associated with the portable gaming cartridge. The portable data storage unit stores an identifier for the gaming cartridge and the predetermined outcomes programmed into that gaming cartridge. According to embodiments of the present invention, a central computer is provided with a memory storing the identifiers for each gaming cartridge and associating the predetermined outcomes programmed into the gaming cartridge's computer memory with the identifier for that gaming cartridge. In further embodiments of the present invention, 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. In additional embodiments, 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.

According to embodiments of the present invention, a portable gaming cartridge is inserted into a portable gaming computer for use. The portable gaming computer according to embodiments of the invention; includes a computer processor, a display, a locking button that when actuated by the player generates a stop signal and a socket into which a portable gaming cartridge may be inserted. 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.

In a further embodiment, the computer readable memory further includes 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.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a computer lottery system is provided. The system includes a portable gaming computer with a gaming cartridge 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 cartridge and associating the predetermined outcomes in the portable gaming cartridge'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 cartridge, communicate the redemption request to the central computer and receive and process the validation message to enable any payoff.

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. In an alternative embodiment, at least one of the predetermined outcomes is programmed into a memory of a gaming cartridge before the gaming cartridge is presented at a point of sale. The gaming cartridge may be validated at the point of sale. The predetermined outcomes stored in the memory can be associated with an identifier for the gaming cartridge. In another embodiment, the predetermined outcomes are programmed into the memory before payment for the gaming cartridge.

In a further embodiment, the gaming cartridge 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.

In yet another embodiment, a computer gaming device is provided. The device comprises a display, player input controls, a computer processor and a gaming cartridge. A computer readable memory in the gaming cartridge 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

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and form part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, further serve to explain the principles of embodiments of the invention.

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

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the central computer, according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a diagram of a memory arrangement in the central computer, according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the components in a gaming computer, according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of the controller in the gaming computer, according to an embodiment of the invention; and

FIGS. 6-8 are diagrams of memory arrangements in the gaming computer, according to an embodiment of the invention.

It should be understood that these figures depict embodiments of the invention. Variations of these embodiments will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) based on the teachings contained herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a lottery system whereby instant “tickets” or pseudo-choice games with a predetermined outcome are provided on a gaming cartridge and rendered on a gaming computer. The gaming computer may be any personal computer, personal digital assistant or the like which is capable of receiving and operating with the gaming cartridge. 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 and automation of games on the gaming computer.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the predetermined outcomes are pre-programmed into the gaming cartridge before it is provided to the player. That is, the gaming cartridge 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 cartridge with the predetermined outcomes during manufacture of the gaming cartridge. Thus, the gaming cartridge 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 of the gaming cartridge on the gaming computer. In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the gaming cartridge can be offered for sale at any location. In embodiments, 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 cartridge or also with the gaming computer. The portable data storage unit may be, according to embodiments, a bar code on the gaming cartridge or also in a memory of the gaming cartridge. The portable data storage unit may also store an identifier for the gaming cartridge. The predetermined outcomes and identifier may be read from the bar codes or memory during a redemption process, described below, and validated.

An embodiment illustrating one use of the gaming cartridge with bar code as a portable data storage unit follows. When a bar code is used as the portable data storage unit, the gaming cartridge may 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 cartridge which represents the predetermined outcomes programmed in the gaming cartridge and the identifier for the gaming cartridge 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 cartridge 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, beyond that which described herein is required 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 cartridge so it can not be read before the gaming cartridge is purchased or is removed from its packaging. For example, the bar code may be covered with a thin layer of latex similar to that used in scratch-off games.

In another embodiment, the gaming cartridge is provided with logic to enable a gaming computer to employ a lock or “freeze” feature that may be activated by the player. When activated, the “freeze” feature prevents further play on the gaming computer and in embodiments may prevent changes to the gaming cartridge. In embodiments, 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. In embodiments, the player may redeem the amounts frozen. In embodiments, any amount of winnings resulting from predetermined outcomes not revealed may be forfeited.

According to embodiments of the present invention, the gaming cartridge may also be programmed to show advertisements on the display of the gaming computer. For example, after every ten plays, an advertisement is shown to the player.

An embodiment of a gaming computer 2 with gaming cartridge 502 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 remaining or purchased in the game cartridge. 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.

According to one embodiment of the invention, the object of the game is to have an indicator, such as the word “Millionaire” shown on the display 3. When this word appears and the following is merely an embodiment, alternatives to which would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art, based at least on the teachings provided herein, the player wins the “grand prize”, for example, one million dollars. Accordingly, in field 5, ten sub-fields are provided as shown in FIG. 1A. Each sub-field 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 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 such as, but not limited to “Billionaire” or “Jackpot”, and of course not limited to English language. Moreover, many other items or games, such as cards, slot machines, current scratch-off games, etc., can be shown on the display 3.

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 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.

Still referring to FIG. 1A, the operation of an embodiment of the gaming computer is now described. According to embodiments of the present invention three player controls may be provided on the gaming computer 2 for operating the gaming cartridge 502 while inserted into 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. Embodiments of gaming computer 2 with an Alternating Current (A/C) adaptor instead of or supplemental to the battery are possible and one of ordinary skill in the art would recognize how to implement such functionality. Button 8 is a play button. According to embodiments of the present invention, the button 8 may include more than one physical button. These buttons may be configured to perform different functions on the game. As such, and depending on the type of game, 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 may not progress when “frozen.” Additionally, when button 9 is depressed, the information in field 5 of display 3 and in winning display 6 is frozen and does not change. 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 cartridge and are not played after the gaming computer is frozen may not be paid to the player. In alternative embodiments, the gaming cartridge may be “unfrozen”, remaining plays completed, and the total winnings updates as described herein. In embodiments, only the amount shown in winner display is paid. A more detailed description of the operation of the gaming cartridge is provided below.

Also shown in FIG. 1A, the features of the gaming computer 2 and gaming cartridge 502 are shown schematically. A connector 504 is provided on the gaming cartridge 502. The connector 502 is received in a corresponding opening 506 provided on the gaming computer 2. Connection of the connector 504 to the opening 506 allows the games and other information stored on the gaming cartridge 502 to be read by the gaming computer 2. The connector 504 on the gaming cartridge 502 and the corresponding opening 506 may be constructed similar to a conventional video game cartridge and player, such as a Nintendo Gameboy and the like. Alternatively, the game cartridge 502 may communicate with the gaming computer 2 in other ways, for example via a USB port, a wireless connection, serial adaptor, etc. Optionally, the gaming cartridge 502 may be ejected from the gaming computer 2 via a button 508.

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 as well a gaming cartridge 602. The display 3 may show any type of image, for example, pictorial and/or alphanumerical images. The gaming computer 2 shown in FIG. 1B. includes additional player controls for playing the games stored on cartridge 502. A game button 200 allows the player to select from a number of different games that may be programmed in the gaming cartridge 502. 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. As such, and depending on the game, by actuating a button 202 under one of the sub-fields 5a-5g, an 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 and may be configured to perform different functions in the game. Thus, the player can control the way in which the predetermined outcome is revealed on the display 3. The revealing of the images on display 3 may simulate the scratching of an instant ticket. Other methods for progressively revealing the predetermined outcome can also be used. Moreover, a keypad 204 may be provided for the player to enter security codes, passwords, or other information.

FIGS. 1C-1E illustrate another embodiment of a gaming computer 2. As shown in FIG. 1C, the gaming computer 2 includes display 3 having first field 4 indicating the number of games remaining and winner display 6 to display a running total of the amount a player has won. Second field 5 may be used to show the play of the game. Play buttons 8 are used to play the game. In the embodiment shown, the housing of the gaming computer includes side panels that are ergonomically designed to accommodate a user's hands. The gaming cartridge 502 is inserted into what is shown as a top side of the gaming computer 2. A gaming computer 2 may also be provided with speakers in order to produce sounds associated with a game being played. A mute button may be provided on the gaming computer in order to mute the sounds of the game. The eject button 508 may be provided on one of the side panels of the gaming computer 2 as is shown in FIG. 1D.

FIGS. 1E and 1F are top and back views, respectively, of the gaming computer 2. As shown in FIG. 1E, the illustrated embodiment comprises a recess 506 for receiving the gaming cartridge 502. A portion of the housing of the gaming computer may be cut away around the slot in order to allow a user to more easily insert and remove the gaming cartridge. For example, the housing may define a detent 507 around recess 506 as best seen in FIG. 1F. A cover 510 encloses a battery compartment provided in the gaming computer 2. A power supply, such as a rechargeable battery, may also be stored in the battery compartment to provide power to the gaming computer. The gaming cartridge 502 may be provided power by a battery or power source from the battery compartment or alternatively may be provided with its own battery. In embodiments, the battery from the gaming cartridge 502 may also be used to power the gaming computer 2.

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 gaming cartridge 502 may be adapted to be received in and/or communicate with each of the previously mentioned components. 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.

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 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 cartridge 502 to the AT 16 to electrically communicate signals with the gaming cartridge 502 through a compatible communications interface. The communication with the gaming cartridge 502 may take place via the gaming computer 20, and/or a read/write interface 27 for reading and writing data to data memory media. These may be used to read and verify the predetermined outcomes stored on the gaming cartridge 502 during a redemption process, described below.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing details of an example 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 or gaming cartridge 502 in an alternative embodiment. The central computer has software or firmware 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 cartridge 502 in which specific information is stored to enable the central computer 12 to keep track of what has been assigned to that gaming cartridge 502 to provide for the redemption of winnings and to ensure that the gaming cartridge 502 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.

A gaming cartridge 502 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 cartridge 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 cartridge. Similarly, the outcome variable may constitute a representation of the predetermined outcomes which have been programmed onto the particular gaming cartridge. In one exemplary embodiment, the 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 cartridge 502 during the redemption process. Any differences between these two sets of outcomes indicate the gaming cartridge has been tampered with and the outcomes should be voided. The total amount of winning assigned to the gaming cartridge may be stored in field 39.

A block diagram of a memory 40 of an exemplary 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 cartridge 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 cartridge 502. The gaming cartridge'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 cartridge.

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 gaming cartridge 802 to enable the gaming computer 20 to electrically communicate directly with the gaming cartridge 802, 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. In an alternative embodiment, the gaming cartridge 502 may be provided with the various interfaces, modems, etc. mentioned above.

Gaming cartridge 802 may include one or more memory types. In the embodiment shown, a memory 814 is coupled to a controller 812. Memory 814 may be provided with an alternate path via connector 810 to more directly communicate with the controller 82 in the gaming computer. The memory 814 is shown in more detail in FIG. 8 described below. The gaming cartridge 802 may be powered by battery 20, but may also be provided with its own battery 816. Battery 816 may be a rechargeable battery, which may be recharged via the gaming computer. The controller 812 may execute the programs stored in memory 814 or retrieve information stored in memory 814 and provide the results to the gaming computer via connector 810. Connector 810 is adapted to communicate with the plug-in interface 92 provided in the gaming computer.

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 scanning 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. Memory 100 may include an operating system which controls the gaming computer 20 in a conventional manner. 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.

Referring now to FIG. 8, there is depicted an exemplary memory arrangement 814 of programs and data in the gaming cartridge. With respect to the present invention, programs and data in memory 814 enable the gaming cartridge to generate games which yield the predetermined outcomes. As described above with respect to the central computer memory 32, each gaming cartridge 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.

The memory 814 may also include 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.

The gaming cartridge memory may include 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. 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.

The gaming computer cartridge memory may further include a redemption program which is used to cash-out the player's current credit balance in the player's account. In the example shown, 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 cartridge identification data and outcome data (net winnings, the number of games played) for a given gaming cartridge. 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.

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 cartridge during manufacture in an area where in cannot be read until the gaming cartridge is removed from its packaging. In another embodiment, the redemption request message RRM may be written to the gaming cartridge 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 or the gaming cartridge 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 using an authentication/encryption program 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 cartridge. These may include the ID and the outcome variable.

The gaming cartridge memory 200 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 200 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.

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.

Conclusion

While various embodiments of the invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example, and not limitation. It will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art that various changes in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. This is especially true in light of technology and terms within the relevant art(s) that may be later developed. Thus the invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.