Title:
Wagering game with an improved wheel bonus game and method therefor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for playing a wagering game wherein when a randomly occurring bonus game condition symbol occurs in the base game outcome, the player plays a separate bonus game to a bonus game outcome. When play of the bonus game is successful, a mechanical wheel is then spun to provide an additional award. In a variation, the base game is separately played. When an independent bonus game condition occurs separately from the base game outcome, the wheel is spun to provide an award independent of the base game.



Inventors:
Vancura, Olaf (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
10/991593
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/18/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KAFANTARIS, THEOLOGOS G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dorr, Carson & Birney, P.C. (5299 DTC Boulevard Suite 260, Greenwood Village, CO, 80111, US)
Claims:
1. A method for playing a wagering game comprising: receiving a wager in the wagering game from a player to start play of the wagering game, the wager being any wager up to a maximum wager, playing a base game in the wagering game to a base game outcome in response to receiving said wager, when a winning combination occurs in the base game outcome, then: (a) awarding the player a base game payoff in the wagering game corresponding to the winning combination, (b) ending the wagering game in response to the aforesaid awarding, when a randomly occurring bonus game condition occurs in the base game outcome and in response only to receiving the wager, then playing a separate bonus game in the wagering game to a bonus game outcome to when at least one play input is received in the wagering came from the player, when play of the bonus game results in a successful bonus game outcome and in response only to receiving the wager, the method further comprising: (a) spinning a mechanical wheel in the wagering game to land on one of a plurality of wheel awards, (b) awarding the player a bonus wheel payoff based on the one award landed on, (c) ending the wagering game in response to the aforesaid awarding the player a wheel payoff.

2. The method of claim 1 further comprising: when play of the bonus game in the wagering game results in an unsuccessful bonus game outcome, the method further comprising: awarding the player in the wagering game a consolation payoff wherein the consolation payoff is lower in value than any one of the plurality of wheel, payoffs, ending the wagering game with said wheel payoff in response to the aforesaid awarding the player a consolation payoff.

3. The method of claim 1 further comprising: when play of the bonus game results in a successful outcome, then displaying a modification graphic in the wagering game, the modification graphic modifying the wheel payoff.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein the modification graphic is an arithmetic function.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein the arithmetic function is a multiplier.

6. The method of claim 1 further comprising: when play of the bonus game results in a successful outcome, then displaying a modification graphic, the modification graphic controlling how many times said spinning occurs.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the wagering game is a casino game.

8. A method for playing a wagering game comprising: receiving a wager in the wagering game from a player to start play of the wagering game, playing a base game in the wagering game to a base game outcome in response to receiving said wager, when a winning combination occurs in the base game outcome, then: (a) awarding to the player a base game payoff corresponding to the winning combination, (b) ending the wagering game in response to the aforesaid awarding, when a randomly occurring bonus game condition occurs in the base game outcome and in response only to receiving the wager, then playing a separate bonus game in the wagering game to a bonus game outcome when at least one play input from the player is received in the bonus game, when play of the bonus game results in a successful bonus game outcome, then: (a) spinning a mechanical wheel in the wagering game to land on one of a plurality of wheel awards, (b) awarding the player a wheel payoff based on the one award landed on, (c) ending the wagering game in response to the aforesaid awarding the player a wheel payoff, when play of the bonus game results in an unsuccessful bonus game outcome and in response only to receiving the wager, then: (a) awarding the player in the wagering game a consolation payoff wherein the consolation payoff is lower in value than any one of the plurality of wheel, payoffs, (b) ending the wagering game in response to the aforesaid awarding the player a consolation payoff.

9. The method of claim 8 further comprising: when play of the bonus game results in said successful outcome, then displaying a modification graphic, the modification graphic modifying the bonus wheel payoff.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the modification graphic is an arithmetic function.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the arithmetic function is a multiplier.

12. The method of claim 8 further comprising: when play of the bonus game results in a successful outcome, then displaying a modification graphic, the modification graphic controlling how many times spinning the mechanical wheel occurs.

13. The method of claim 8 wherein the wagering game is a casino game.

14. A method for playing a wagering game comprising: accepting in the wagering game a wager from a player to start the wagering game, the wager being any wager up to a maximum wager, playing a base game in a display of the wagering game to a base game outcome in response to accepting the wager, awarding a base game payoff to the player only when a winning base game outcome occurs, spinning a mechanical wheel in the wagering game only when a randomly occurring bonus game condition occurs during play of the base game and in response to accepting the wager, the mechanical wheel having a plurality of payoffs, the bonus game condition occurring independently from and not in the base game outcome, awarding in the wagering game the player one of the plurality of payoffs landed on after the mechanical wheel stops spinning.

15. The method of claim 14 in which spinning the mechanical wheel comprises: when the randomly occurring bonus game outcome occurs, playing a separate bonus game in the wagering game to a bonus game outcome by receiving at least one input from the player, spinning the mechanical wheel when play of the bonus game is successful.

16. A method for playing a seal card game comprising: revealing, by a player, a base game outcome in a base game play area of the seal card game, when a winning combination occurs in the base game outcome, awarding the player a base game payoff corresponding to the winning combination, when a randomly occurring bonus game condition occurs in the base game outcome, then revealing a bonus game outcome, by the player, in a separate bonus game play area of the seal card game, when play of the bonus game results in a successful bonus game outcome, revealing, by the player, only one of a plurality of hidden bonus awards in a wheel play area of the seal card game and awarding the player a bonus wheel payoff based on the aforesaid one award landed on.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising: when play of the bonus game results in an unsuccessful bonus game outcome, awarding the player a consolation payoff displayed on the seal card game.

18. A method for playing a seal card game comprising: revealing, by a player, a base game outcome in a base game play area of the seal card game, awarding a base game payoff to the player only when a winning base game outcome occurs, revealing, by the player, a randomly occurring bonus game condition in a bonus game condition area of the seal card game, when a bonus game condition is revealed in the bonus game condition area, revealing, by the player, only one of a plurality of hidden payoffs in a wheel play area and awarding the player the revealed hidden payoff.

19. The method of claim 14 further comprising: chasing one light in a plurality of lights on the wagering game, randomly stopping the aforesaid one light during the chase, when the randomly stopped light stops at a location having a bonus condition, providing the bonus game condition.

20. The method of claim 14 further comprising: providing the bonus condition when a special bonus graphic randomly appears in the display but not in the base game outcome.

21. The method of claim 14 further comprising: providing the bonus condition when the accepted wager corresponds to a random wager-in determined by a random number generation.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to wagering games and, in particular, to wagering games having a wheel bonus game and to seal card games such as scratch lottery tickets.

2. Discussion of the Background

Casino gaming devices involving a bonus game incorporating a top box bonus wheel have always been popular with the gaming public. The bonus wheel is usually mechanical and either the wheel spins or a ball on a stick spins over a fixed wheel. At the beginning of the twentieth century, many different “wheels of fortune” were popular in the gaming industry.

One conventional wheel bonus is the CASH FOR LIFE BONUS SPIN RICH & FAMOUS casino game from Bally which is based upon an earlier MONTE CARLO slot series. In this CASH FOR LIFE game, when the player places a maximum bet and a bonus spin symbol appears on the third reel of the slot game, the player is afforded the opportunity to press a Bonus Spin button. When pressed, a white ball spins faster and faster around a bonus wheel until it lands on a bonus award. In a variation of this game, Bally produced the CASH FOR LIFE TRIPLE SPIN casino game. Here, the player is afforded the opportunity to pass on or select the first two of three spins of the bonus wheel. That is, if the player accepts the results of the first wheel spin, the bonus game is over. If the player passes on the first two wheel spins, the third wheel spin automatically provides the effective wheel spin result. IGT has a “Price Is Right” game where a combination of bonus symbols starts a bonus game. The bonus game has a qualifying round which uses a mechanical wheel. If the player qualifies based on the wheel spins, then the player plays an additional bonus game for more awards. Aristocrat has a “You Might Be a Redneck If . . . ” game where if the player makes an additional wager, then an additional reel spins and based on the symbol appearing on this reel, the player qualifies for a bonus game.

Other conventional slot games having a wheel bonus game are set forth in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,823,874 and 5,848,932. The '874 patent sets forth a standard gaming unit having, for example, three reels in the base game and a rotatable mechanical bonus wheel. The standard gaming unit generates a signal to operate the mechanical wheel. In the '874 patent, the appearance of certain displayed indicia such as reels, indicia of reels, indicia of playing cards, and combinations thereof are used so that when they appear on the payline of the standard gaming unit, the signal is generated. The '932 patent also provides a signal that is generated in the primary gaming unit when a display of indicia occurs on the payline in play of the primary gaming unit to operate the bonus payout indicator.

A need exists in the gaming industry to continually improve upon wagering games having a bonus wheel so as to add increased play and excitement for players.

Scratch lottery tickets are used principally by governmental entities to generate revenue therefor. A ticket is purchased at a retail establishment by a consumer upon payment of value such as $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or $10.00. According to the instructions on the ticket, the consumer then scratches off a removable material from selected areas to reveal hidden play symbols on the ticket. When a win occurs, a corresponding award area is scratched off to reveal a payoff value. The player then takes the ticket to an establishment for redemption. A pull tab (also called “breakopen”) ticket is used in the casino gaming world. Pull tabs require removing a cover member such as a top or a flap to reveal a hidden play symbol. The term “seal card game” herein refers to scratch lottery tickets, to pull tickets, or to any other similar ticket.

A continuing need also exists to provide new and exciting seal card games to consumers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The needs set forth above are met under the teachings of the present invention. A method for playing a wagering game is set forth wherein when a randomly occurring bonus game condition symbol occurs in a base game outcome, the player plays a separate bonus game to a bonus game outcome. When play of the bonus game is successful, a bonus wheel is then spun to provide an additional award. In a variation, the wagering game is separately played. When an independent bonus game condition occurs separately from the base game outcome, the bonus wheel is spun to provide an award independent from the base game.

The above two methods are incorporated and played when the wagering game is a seal card game such as a scratch lottery ticket.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 sets forth the method steps of a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 sets forth an example of one bonus game variation based upon the first embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 sets forth a second example of the bonus game based upon the first embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 sets forth the method steps of a second embodiment for the method steps of the present invention.

FIG. 5 sets forth a scratch lottery ticket example of the present invention based upon the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 sets forth another scratch lottery ticket example based upon the embodiment of FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 sets forth a block diagram showing a wagering game according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an illustration of a screen display showing a bonus condition.

FIG. 9 is a block diagram of the various components in the wagering game of one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

1. Overview

The present invention pertains to an improved wagering game using a wheel to provide additional payoffs to players of the wagering game. The term “wagering game” includes all of the various types of casino games such as, but not limited to, slot machines, video poker machines, and keno machines. The wagering game as presented herein is independent of the type of base game such as video poker, slots, keno, etc. The term “wagering game” also includes seal card games such as pull tab or scratch lottery tickets. Pull tab wagering games are typically found in casinos whereas scratch lottery tickets are usually sold over the counter in various jurisdictions to the consuming public. The base game in seal card games can also be any suitable conventional base game based upon poker hands, matching numbers, matching symbols, etc. The term “wagering game” therefore includes conventional casino games, conventional seal card games, and any other game played in response to a wager being placed and payoffs being given when winning combinations are obtained in play of the wagering game.

Two embodiments of the present invention are presented in the following: 1) a bonus condition in the base game outcome and 2) a bonus condition independent of the base game outcome. While two embodiments are used to illustrate the present invention, it is to be expressly understood, that modifications and variations may be made to these embodiments under the teachings herein.

2. Bonus Condition in Base Game Outcome

FIG. 1 sets forth the method steps of a first embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 sets forth a block diagram showing the components of a wagering game 700 having a lower base/bonus game 710 and a mechanical wheel 720 in a top box 722. In the method shown in FIG. 1, the player starts 100 by placing a conventional wager in a suitable wager-in device 730 found in the wagering game 700 to be played in display 712. The wager can be any suitable amount based upon the rules for the base game 740. The player plays 110 the base game 740 in a conventional fashion to a base game outcome 750 in display 712. For example, a winning symbol combination {7, 7, 7} is shown on payline 760. In typical play, the player seeks to obtain one or more random winning combinations in the base game outcome to receive 112 corresponding base game payoffs based upon the winning combinations. Base games 740 are of many different and varied types. Rather than have a single payline 760 with three symbols as shown in FIG. 7, a multi-line, multi-reel slot design could be used. Or, a video poker game could be played to a game outcome. The foregoing paragraph describes conventional casino game play.

One of the random combinations in the outcome of the base game 740 is a bonus game condition such as the alignment of a predetermined bonus symbol or a set of bonus symbols representing qualification of the player to play a bonus game 780. This is illustrated by the bonus game condition symbol B appearing on payline 760 within display 712, as shown in FIG. 8. Qualification of the player to play the bonus game 780 typically requires the player to place a maximum wager. However, placing the maximum wager is not necessary for bonus game qualification. As shown in FIG. 1 and in method step 120, the wagering game of the present invention responds to the presence of such a bonus game condition. If the bonus game condition 120 is satisfied, the player then plays a bonus game 780 in method step 130 in display 712. If no bonus game condition occurs in the base game outcome, then play of the wagering game ends 140. The operation of the base game 740 leading to base game outcome 750 and the operation of the bonus game condition, such as symbol B 770 in FIG. 8, are conventionally generated by a random number generator and/or by software. In FIG. 8, a single symbol B is shown in a last reel position, the symbol can be in any reel position. The bonus condition may be more than one symbol (e.g., 3 bonus symbols). Or, such as in a video poker game, the bonus condition in the base game outcome could be the appearance of a single card (e.g., a Jack of Hearts) or a combination of cards (e.g., an Ace and a Jack (clubs or spades).

Under the teachings of the present invention, play 130 of the bonus game 780 occurs if the bonus game condition 120 is satisfied. Play of the bonus game may occur in a separate screen 780 of display 712 or in a display (not shown) in the top box 722. Whether the player is successful in playing the bonus game 780 is determined in method step 150. If bonus game play by the player is successful, the wagering game spins 160 a mechanical wheel 720 in the top box 722 for a bonus payoff award, which is made in method step 170. It is to be understood that the term “spinning the mechanical wheel” (and variations thereof) means either a fixed wheel 720 with rotating indicator 724, or a fixed indicator 724 with rotating wheel 720. Moreover, wheel 720 and indicator 724 could both rotate, either in opposite directions, or in the same direction albeit at different speeds. The term herein “spinning the wheel” (and variations thereof) includes the above as well as a video representation of wheel 720 and indicator 724, or the player selecting a segment containing a hidden value such as in a stationary wheel printed on a scratch lottery ticket.

The wheel 720 may spin automatically in response to the player's successful bonus game outcome, or the wheel 720 may spin after the player provides an input (such as pushing a button, not shown). After the wheel 720 is spun 160 and the award 726 is paid to the player 170, the wagering game of the present invention 140 ends. If the player is not successful in play 130 of the bonus game 780, then the wagering game ends 140, or as shown by the dotted lines, a consolation award 152 may be given to the player. The consolation payoff is lower in value than any payoff provided by the wheel 720.

In the play 130 of the bonus game 780, any conventional (or new) bonus game separate from the base game can be utilized such as providing a trivia question to the player. The play 150 of the bonus game 780 is separate from play 110 of the base game 740. If the player correctly responds to the trivia question, method step 150 is successful and the player is then permitted to spin 160 the wheel 720 to land on an award 726. If the player incorrectly answers, a consolation award 152 may optionally be given or the game simply ends 140. Or, play 130 of the bonus game 780 may involve a bonus game wherein the player is given the opportunity to choose an object that hides a wheel icon. If the player chooses the object that uncovers a wheel icon, the play is successful 150 and spinning 160 the wheel 720 occurs.

For example, upon entering method step 130, the play 130 of the bonus game 780 occurs on display 712, which may be a video touch screen display having both data input and data displaying capabilities. A question with answers 200 is presented (as shown in FIG. 2), and the player touches one of the three answers. In FIG. 2, if the player touches either “Portland” or “Eugene,” the answer is incorrect, and the player may receive an optional consolation payoff 152, and the wagering game 700 of the present invention ends 140. However, if the player touches the correct answer “Salem,” the wagering game 700 permits the player to spin 160 the mechanical wheel 720. The spin 160 of the mechanical wheel 720 can be automatic, or it can be activated by having the player push a button (not shown).

In FIG. 3, the touch screen display 712 shows three objects 300a, 300b, and 300c, comprising the bonus game 780, in method step 130. Behind each object is a hidden symbol shown with dotted lines. The hidden symbols 310, in this example, behind 300a and 300b, are not wheel symbols, and if those objects are selected by the player, the game ends 140. In this situation, a consolation award 152 may be awarded. However, if the player successfully touches object 300c, a hidden wheel (W in dotted lines) symbol 310 is revealed, and this provides the player with the opportunity to spin 160 the mechanical wheel 720. In the examples of FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, the player, if randomly guessing or selecting, has a one in three chance of spinning 160 the wheel 720. In the event the bonus game is a knowledge game (FIG. 2) or a skill game, the knowledge, strategy or skill of the player can improve the player's chance of spinning 160 the wheel 72a.

The two bonus games of FIGS. 2 and 3 are examples and do not limit the invention as to the type of bonus game played. The bonus game 780 is a separate game from the base game 740 and is played separately.

In a variation of the embodiment of FIG. 1, and as shown by dotted lines 154 in FIG. 1, rather than having the “yes” path shown to step 160, an alternate “yes” path 154 may replace the one discussed above. In this variation, the successfulness of play 130 in the bonus game 780 as determined in method step 150 is used in step 180 to modify the results of the wheel spin 160. For example, if the player is successful in stage 150, then, in step 180, a modification graphic G 782 may be displayed on screen 780 of display 712 in FIG. 2 (the modification graphic is shown in dotted lines). The modification graphic 782, could be a multiplier such as “3×.” When the wheel 720 lands on a value such as, for example, $20.00, and as the player was successful in bonus game play, the multiplier operates on the $20.00 to provide a final award of $60.00.

In a variation, the “degree” of success in playing 130 the bonus game 780 controls the “value” of the multiplier (or the “number” of spins). For example, the question 200 could be: Name the cities in the following list that are in Colorado without naming a city outside Colorado: Denver, Omaha, Boulder, Boston, and Pueblo—Each correct answer will result in an added 1× multiplier. The selection of an incorrect answer choice will nullify any multiplier value generated by previous correct answer choices. The first incorrect answer will result in no multiplier whatsoever and end the game. When a player first picks Denver, then Boulder, the player gets a 2× multiplier as both answers are correct and spins the wheel. If the player first picks Denver, then Boulder and then Omaha, the game ends as Omaha is incorrect. A player choosing Denver, Pueblo and Boulder wins a 3× multiplier and spins the wheel. This example can be based on spins rather than a multiplier.

The modification in step 180 can modify one or more characteristics of the spinning step 160 and/or the bonus payoff step 170. The player, when successful in method step 150, receives a modification graphic G 782 authorizing two spins. If the player is unsuccessful in method step 150, the player receives an award, and the wagering game ends. Hence in this embodiment, in method step 160, a player who was successful in step 150 receives two spins and the sum of the two awards. In one example, the first wheel spin results in an award of $20.00, the second wheel spin results in an award of $50.00, and the player then receives an award of $70.00. The displayed modification graphic G acts to modify method step 160 accordingly, and it is to be expressly understood that any of a number of different modification graphics G 782 could be utilized under the present invention, each corresponding to an arithmetic function such as multiplication, addition, or a wheel operation such as additional spins (e.g., 2 instead of 1). In the wheel spin variation, the awards from each wheel spin accumulate. Or, the two variations could be combined so as to provide two wheel spins and a multiplier. It can be appreciated that the bonus game 780 can be designed to provide the player with great excitement and interaction to “build a wheel spin payoff” by increasing the number of spins and/or the arithmetic operation based on the player's skill, strategy, knowledge, or luck in play 130 of the bonus game 780. Further, the bonus game 780 can be designed to offer only play based on the player knowledge, skill, or strategy.

In the above, if the player is unsuccessful in method step 150, the wagering game ends 140. Under the teachings of the present invention, and unlike conventional wheel bonus games, obtaining a bonus condition such as symbol B in FIG. 8 does not guarantee a spin of the wheel 720. Under the teachings of the method of FIG. 1, the spin of the wheel 160 only occurs if the player's bonus game play is successful. The play 130 of the bonus game 780 is an intermediate step not found in conventional wheel bonus games.

In summary, what has been set forth above is the generation of a bonus condition in the actual base game outcome. The teachings of the present invention are not limited to how the bonus condition occurs in the base game outcome and it could be a single symbol as illustrated by B in FIG. 8, it could be a combination of symbols, etc. How the bonus condition occurs in the base game outcome and what it comprises is vigorous under the teachings contained herein. Furthermore, the nature and type of the intermediate bonus game can also be any type of conventional knowledge-based, skill-based, strategy-based, or random-based bonus game. This intermediate bonus game play provides the player with additional player excitement and further emphasizes the excitement of spinning the wheel. If the player is not successful in this intermediate bonus game, the player may or may not receive an award, as discussed.

3. Bonus Condition Independent of Base Game Outcome

FIG. 4 sets forth a second embodiment of the present invention. The player in method step 400 starts play in a conventional fashion for the wagering game 700 by placing a wager. The base game 740 is played 410. Two separate method paths 402 and 404 are traveled. The first path 402 is traveled in response to the wager and the base game 740 is conventionally played resulting in a game base outcome 420. In the base game outcome, winning combinations of symbols, cards, etc. are encountered, and any winning combinations are paid in method step 430 to the player. There is no symbol combination, card combination, etc. in the base game outcome 420 for generating a bonus condition as in the prior embodiments of FIGS. 1-3. After play 410 of the base game 740 and generation of the base game outcome 420 with any base game payoff 430 paid, the wagering game ends 440.

In the embodiment of FIG. 4, the bonus condition is generated entirely independently of the base game outcome 420. The bonus condition could be, for example, based on a random wager-in made to play the base game as determined by a suitable random number generator and/or the appearance of a special bonus graphic on display 712 (but not on the payline) such as B 790 appearing on display 712. The appearance of this special bonus graphic can also be generated by a random number generator. In a variation, lights 794 could be placed around the perimeter of display 712. One of the lights could be constantly “chasing” 796 (as in a Las Vegas sign). At the moment the player initiates spin in the base game, the light stops. If the light stops at a bonus condition B 798 (or the light matches a bonus color, etc.), a wheel spin occurs. Hence, along method path 404, play of the base game 410 commences with monitoring for the occurrence of this separate bonus condition in stage 450. If it doesn't occur during play of the base game 410, then in stage 460, there is no bonus game play and the player simply enjoys the conventional base game outcome 420. However, if a bonus condition is detected 450, then stage 470 is entered and the mechanical wheel 720 is spun 470 to pay a bonus payoff in step 480 to the player and the game thereupon ends in stage 440.

In FIG. 4, an optional method step 490 can be included to incorporate the bonus game 780 of FIG. 1. In this case, the method step 490 refers to method steps 130, 150 in one variation, method steps 130, 150, 152 in another variation, and method steps 130, 150, and 180 in a third variation. The provision of the optional bonus game method step 490 would add further excitement to the embodiment of FIG. 4.

In summary of this embodiment, the bonus condition (790 or 798) is independent and separate from the base game outcome 420. The spinning of the mechanical wheel 720 randomly occurs based upon events not found in play of the base game outcome and which randomly occur. In one variation, the intermediate bonus game of the first embodiment can be incorporated into this embodiment to add further excitement. How the bonus condition is randomly generated is vigorous and can include any independent random event from play of the base game.

The specific implementation of the two embodiments of FIG. 1 and FIG. 4 is in spinning a mechanical wheel although the general implementation is spinning a wheel.

4. Seal Card Application

In FIG. 5, the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIGS. 1 through 3 is set forth in the form of a seal card such as a scratch lottery ticket 500. In the example FIG. 5, a first base game play area 510 is shown in which the player scratches the five covered areas to reveal a set of symbols in a game outcome. Scratching removes any removable material to reveal a hidden value, symbol, etc. Scratching play area of base game 510 may reveal winning by matching two symbols such as those found in the following game outcome set: {5.00, $3.00, $8.00, $1.00, $1.00} in which the player receives a $1.00 award. In the event that two like symbols are matched, the player cashes the ticket and receives the matched award, such as $1.00. The base game 510 can be any conventional scratch game with any number of scratch areas in base game play area 510.

In the event the player uncovers a bonus condition 512 such as “Q,” the player then is entitled to move 514 to the second play area 520. An example of a base game outcome set would be {$5.00, $3.00, $8.00, Q, $1.00} as shown in FIG. 5. The player can only play this area 520 when a bonus condition Q 512 appears in the base game 510. Again the bonus condition 512 can be a unique symbol or symbols, a specific combination (Ace of Spades, Jack of Spades, etc.).

The player is asked a question 530 (e.g., to name the capital of Oregon) with a plurality of choices such as the three in play area 520 (Portland, Salem, Eugene). The player can scratch only one of the choices to reveal whether the answer is correct (such as uncovering a wheel symbol 521). If the scratched off answer is incorrect, then the player does not win with this scratch ticket. In the event the player answers the question correctly, the player moves 524 on to play area 540 in which the player selects one segment of wheel 550 (i.e., spins the wheel) to scratch and uncover a final prize, such as $1.00, $2.00, $5.00 or $10.00. The player then takes the ticket and redeems it for payment of an award. It is to be understood that a player may look up the answer before removing material from an answer choice. The final award is decided based upon random selection of a segment in the wheel.

FIG. 6 corresponds to the embodiment of FIG. 4. The scratch lottery ticket 600 of FIG. 6 has a first play area 610 in which the player plays base game 612 to uncover a base game outcome. However, the player is also given the opportunity to scratch a bonus play area 620 which may or may not qualify the player to spin the wheel 630 in play area 640 when the wheel symbol 621 is uncovered.

The method of the present invention for FIGS. 5 and 6 is set forth next. At, typically, a retail establishment for a scratch lottery ticket or a casino for pull tab ticket, a ticket sale takes place. A player purchases the ticket for value to start 100 the game. The value paid for the ticket corresponds to a player of a casino gaming machine placing a wager.

After purchasing the ticket, the player in FIG. 5 plays 110 the base game 510 and uncovers its play area of the ticket to reveal the hidden symbols. The player looks at the uncovered play area and makes a decision. If a winning combination of symbols in the base game exists, the player redeems the ticket to receive a payoff 112. If a bonus symbol (such as Q) has been uncovered, then play 130 of the bonus game occurs.

The player then proceeds to follow the instructions on the ticket pertaining to the bonus game in play area 520. The player uncovers one of the answers. It is to be understood that if the player uncovers more than one answer, the ticket is invalidated. If the player scratches off an incorrect answer, then the game is over (bonus play in step 150 is unsuccessful). As mentioned, one option, would be to pay 152 the player a consolation payoff the amount of which payoff could equal the price paid for the ticket. If the player scratches only the correct answer, then the player scratches off only one segment in the wheel 550 play area 540 such as segment 560 (corresponding to spin the wheel step 160 in FIG. 1). If more than one segment 560 is scratched off, the ticket is invalidated (or, optionally, only the lowest value in the wheel segments 160 is paid).

The player returns to an establishment to redeem the ticket. The establishment, which could be represented by store clerk, first looks at the play areas 520 and 540 to ascertain that only one play area has been uncovered. The revealing of any other play area or any other tampering with the removable material over another play area results in invalidation of the ticket. In a variation, if all answers in area 520 are scratched off and the entire wheel is scratched off, only the consolation award (i.e., such as when selecting an incorrect answer occurs) is given. Or, if only the entire wheel is scratched off, the lowest segment value (i.e., $1 in FIG. 5) is given. If the redeemed ticket is in proper form, the player is awarded 170 a bonus payoff based on the uncovered segment 560.

It is to be understood that while the foregoing examples are given in terms of purchase by the consumer, with cash prizes, other embodiments are possible. For example, the seal tickets could be given away as a promotion (e.g., at fast-food establishments) or with accompanying purchase (e.g., at a department store), with possible awards including food prizes and/or merchandise, perhaps in addition to monetary prizes.

While the seal card embodiments of the present invention represent different structures than processor-controlled casino games, the method of play is the same. The base game on seal card games can be any suitable conventional base game. In the first embodiment of a bonus condition appearing in the base game outcome, this is commonly one or more symbols such as symbol Q which leads directly to the intermediate bonus game. Again, the intermediate bonus game can be any knowledge-based, skill-based, strategy-based, or random-based bonus game. If the player is successful, the player then moves to the wheel spin portion. In this structure, of course, a mechanical wheel is not used and a spin doesn't happen. However, the player selects one of the segments to scratch off or reveal. This brings the excitement of the “wheel spin” to seal card games.

5. Casino Game Application

In FIG. 9 is a block diagram sets forth some of the many components found in a wagering game 700 as found in processor controlled casino games. It is to be expressly understood that a wide variety of wagering games 700, base games 740 and bonus games 780 could be utilized according to the teachings of the present invention as set forth above. What is set forth in FIG. 9 are some of the components found in the wagering game 700.

In FIG. 9, the wagering game 700 has a processor 900 which not only controls the wheel 720, the base game 740, and the bonus game 780, but also processes all the necessary functions found in conventional wagering games. For example, the wagering game 700 through a suitable input/output device 910 communicates with a network 920 in a conventional fashion. The network 920 could be a casino wide area network wherein the casino communicates, from perhaps a remote location, with each of its wagering games 700. The network 920 could be a communication network such as the Internet. The I/O device 910 can be any suitable device.

With regard to the present invention, the processor 900 controls receiving wagers in device 730 which can be any suitable device or combination of devices such as a currency reader, a ticket reader, a coin-in sensor, a credit card reader, a debit card reader, a smart card reader, etc. The processor 900 also conventionally communicates with and controls a suitable payout device 930 such as, but not limited to, writing to a smart card, printing a ticket, issuing coins or other forms of currency, etc.

The processor 900 also communicates with and controls a suitable input device or devices 940 which allows the player to press buttons to select the wager per line and number of lines such as found in a multi-line, multi-reel slot game, to receive other types of input such as pressing a button to spin the mechanical wheel 720, receiving a cash-out input so the player can receive any and all credits in the wagering game as a payout, etc.

The processor 900 can be any suitable processor which, in communication with memory 950, controls the wagering game by interacting with hardware devices based on the software found in memory 950. The processor 900 and 950 can also incorporate a random number generator either in hardware or software to provide the required random events in the base game, the random occurrence of the bonus condition, the random spin of the wheel 720, etc. The processor 900 controls and communicates with a display or displays 712 which can also be input devices such as touch screens. The processor 900 also communicates with and controls the mechanical wheel 720. The present invention is not limited to the illustration set forth in FIG. 9, and it is to be expressly understood that many different types of wagering games could be utilized under the teachings of the present invention.

The above disclosure sets forth a number of embodiments of the present invention described in detail with respect to the accompanying drawings. Those skilled in this art will appreciate that various changes, modifications, other structural arrangements, and other embodiments could be practiced under the teachings of the present invention without departing from the scope of this invention as set forth in the following claims.