Title:
Wagering gaming system with multiplier reel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming terminal having a set of primary reels and a multiplier reel on which a player can place a separate wager on the perceived likelihood that any payout associated with the primary reels will be increased by an amount revealed on the multiplier reel. The wager on the multiplier reel must be received before the game outcome associated with the primary reels is revealed to the player. Input devices are provided to allow the player to place a wager on the multiplier reel, and symbols on the multiplier reel indicate the multiplier amount or are indicative of whether the payout associated with the game outcome will be increased. These symbols can be different colors, and the player can place a wager on the probability that the multiplier reel will stop on a particular color. If it does, the payout is increased by a multiplier associated with the particular color.



Inventors:
Hornik, Jeremy (Chicago, IL, US)
Aoki, Dion K. (Henderson, NV, US)
Jaffe, Joel R. (Evanston, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/003193
Publication Date:
06/08/2006
Filing Date:
12/03/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050181879Gaming terminal having secondary displayAugust, 2005Rothschild
20090131145Wagering Game with Overlying Transmissive Display for Providing Enhanced Game FeaturesMay, 2009Aoki et al.
20080004114VIDEO GAME CONTROLLER WITH COMPACT AND EFFICIENT FORCE FEEDBACK MECHANISMJanuary, 2008Mcvicar et al.
20080108422SIMULATION OF MECHANICAL REELS OF GAMING MACHINESMay, 2008Hedrick et al.
20090137315Game console remote controller integrationMay, 2009Wu
20070281776Display type slot machineDecember, 2007Inoue
20100029384SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PHYSICS INTERACTIONS IN A SIMULATIONFebruary, 2010Andersen et al.
20060247007Gaming system, gaming terminal and server utilized thereinNovember, 2006Inamura
20100016069MULTIPLAYER GAMING INCENTIVEJanuary, 2010Herrmann
20060089198Game apparatus and storage mediumApril, 2006Sawatani et al.
20030186739Cashless bonusing for gaming machinesOctober, 2003Paulsen et al.



Primary Examiner:
MCCULLOCH JR, WILLIAM H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JENKENS & GILCHRIST, P.C. (225 WEST WASHINGTON, SUITE 2600, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game, comprising: a primary game for presenting a randomly selected game outcome in response to receiving a wager from a player; a multiplier reel having a plurality of multiplier symbols disposed thereon, each of said multiplier symbols representing an amount by which to multiply a payout associated with said randomly selected game outcome; and an input device adapted to receive a first input from a player of said wagering game regarding an indication that an additional wager has been wagered on the probability that one of said multiplier symbols will be selected to enhance said payout.

2. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said primary game includes a set of primary reels.

3. The gaming terminal of claim 2, wherein said primary reels and said multiplier reel are mechanical reels.

4. The gaming terminal of claim 2, further comprising a second input device adapted to receive a second input from said player, said second input causing said primary reels to be set in motion.

5. The gaming terminal of claim 2, wherein said first input is further an indication to cause said primary reels to be set in motion.

6. The gaming terminal of claim 2, wherein said multiplier reel is adapted to spin independently of said set of primary reels.

7. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said first input is received before presenting said game outcome.

8. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said amount is zero.

9. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said amount is at least double.

10. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said amount is a fraction.

11. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said multiplier symbols include visually distinct colors.

12. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein at least some of said multiplier symbols include an indication of the amount of the multiplier.

13. A gaming system for playing a wagering game, comprising: a gaming terminal including a display for displaying a primary wagering game having a randomly selected game outcome in response to receiving a primary wager from a player, said display further displaying a multiplier reel; and a controller coupled to said display and being programmed to associate at least one symbol on said multiplier reel with an amount by which to multiply a payout associated with said randomly selected game outcome, and before displaying said randomly selected game outcome, receive a secondary wager input by said player on the probability that said multiplier reel will stop on a symbol that will increase said payout associated with said randomly selected game outcome.

14. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein said randomly selected game outcome is represented by an arrangement of a plurality of symbols on a set of primary reels displayed on said display.

15. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein said controller is further programmed to cause said set of primary reels to appear to spin independently of said multiplier reel on said display.

16. The gaming system of claim 13, wherein said controller is externally coupled to said gaming terminal.

17. The gaming system of claim 13, wherein said controller resides within said gaming terminal.

18. A method of playing a wagering game, comprising: receiving a first wager amount on said wagering game; displaying on a display a randomly selected game outcome of said wagering game, said game outcome being associated with a payout; prior to said displaying said game outcome, receiving a second wager amount on the probability that said payout will be greater than zero; and in the event said payout is greater than zero, multiplying said payout by a multiplier.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising, displaying a multiplier symbol indicative of said multiplier on said display.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein said multiplier symbol includes a number representing the amount of said multiplier.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein said multiplier symbol includes a color visually distinguishable from at least one other indication associated with at least one other multiplier.

22. The method of claim 18, wherein said game outcome is represented by an arrangement of symbols on a plurality of primary reels displayed on said display.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein said multiplier is a multiplier symbol on a multiplier reel bearing said multiplier symbol and at least one other multiplier symbol.

24. The method of claim 18, wherein said wagering game is graphically represented by a set of reels having a plurality of symbols thereon.

25. The method of claim 18, wherein said first wager amount and said second wager amount are separate wagers.

26. The method of claim 18, wherein said first wager amount and said second wager amount are respective parts of a single wager.

27. The method of claim 18, further comprising randomly selecting said multiplier.

28. The method of claim 18, wherein said multiplier is zero times said payout.

29. The method of claim 18, wherein said multiplier is a fraction of said payout.

30. The method of claim 18, wherein said multiplier is at least twice said payout.

31. The method of claim 18, further comprising awarding no payout when said multiplier is zero times said payout regardless of said game outcome.

32. The method of claim 18, wherein said game outcome is associated with a payout greater than zero, the method further comprising reducing said payout when said multiplier is less than one times said payout.

33. The method of claim 18, wherein said game outcome is associated with a payout greater than zero, the method further comprising increasing said payout when said multiplier is greater than one times said payout.

34. A method of playing a wagering game, comprising: receiving a first wager amount on said wagering game; displaying on a display a randomly selected game outcome of said wagering game, said game outcome being associated with a payout; prior to said displaying said game outcome, receiving a second wager amount on the probability that said payout will be greater than zero; displaying on said display a multiplier reel having a plurality of multiplier symbols each associated with a multiplier amount; causing said multiplier reel to appear to spin and stop on a first one of said plurality of multiplier symbols; and in the event said payout is greater than zero, multiplying said payout by the multiplier amount associated with said first one of said plurality of multiplier symbols.

35. The method of claim 34, wherein said first one of said plurality of multiplier symbols is a color.

36. The method of claim 34, wherein said first one of said plurality of multiplier symbols includes a number depicting said multiplier amount.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to gaming systems for playing a wagering game and, more particularly, to a wagering game having a multiplier reel for allowing the player to place an additional wager on an eventual win on a primary game.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines, and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing machines and the expectation of winning each machine is roughly the same (or believed to be the same), players are most likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting of the machines.

Consequently, shrewd operators strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines available because such machines attract frequent play and, hence, increase profitability to the operator. In the competitive gaming machine industry, there is a continuing need for gaming machine manufacturers to produce new types of games, or enhancements to existing games, which will attract frequent play by enhancing the entertainment value and excitement associated with the game.

One approach that has been employed is to allow the player to enhance the award by placing an additional wager after the game outcome is presented. The player is presented with the option of doubling the payout associated with the game outcome and must place an additional wager for that chance. A drawback to this approach is that if the game outcome does not result in a winning combination, the player has no incentive or desire to take a chance on increasing a payout of zero and thus will not place an additional wager in the event of a losing combination. The player can adopt a “wait and see” strategy, placing additional wagers only if a winning combination is achieved. As a result, casinos do not produce as much revenue from such games as they could because the doubling option only occurs after a winning combination is achieved.

Thus, there is a need to increase wager throughput on a gaming terminal. The present invention fulfills this and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, a gaming system for playing a wagering game is provided. The gaming system includes an input device that receives a first input from a player of the wagering game, a set of primary reels for presenting a randomly selected game outcome, and a multiplier reel. The multiplier reel, which can be a mechanical reel, has multiplier symbols disposed on the reel, each of which represent an amount by which to multiply a payout associated with the game outcome. The payout could be zero, in which case the overall award remains at zero regardless of what type of winning combination occurs on the primary reels. The first input is an indication that an additional wager has been wagered on the probability that the multiplier reel will stop at one of the multiplier symbols, thereby enhancing the overall payout. The amount could be zero, in which case any payout awarded on the primary reels would be erased and the player would be awarded nothing. The multiplier symbols could include an indication of the amount of the multiplier (such as 0×, ½×, or 2×) or could include one of various visually distinct colors indicative of whether the payout on the primary reels will be increased.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a gaming system for playing a wagering game is provided. The gaming system includes a gaming terminal that has a display for displaying a wagering game having a randomly selected game outcome represented by an arrangement of symbols on a set of primary reels displayed on the display. The gaming system further includes a controller coupled to the display and programmed to associate at least one symbol on a multiplier reel also displayed on the display with an amount by which to multiply a payout associated with the game outcome and to receive a wager input by the player on the multiplier reel before the game outcome is displayed.

According to still another aspect of the present invention, a method of playing a wagering game is provided. The method includes receiving a first wager amount, displaying a game outcome associated with a payout, receiving a second wager amount on the probability that the payout will be greater than zero before displaying the game outcome, and, in the event the payout is greater than zero, multiplying the payout by a multiplier. In various embodiments, the method could further include displaying a multiplier symbol indicative of the multiplier on the display, randomly selecting the multiplier, awarding no payout when the multiplier is zero times the payout regardless of the game outcome, reducing the payout when the multiplier is less than one times the payout (e.g., the multiplier could be a fraction such as one-half or it could be zero times the payout) and the payout is greater than zero, and increasing the payout when the multiplier is greater than one times the payout and the payout is greater than zero.

The above summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment or every aspect of the present invention, as there are several novel methods and gaming terminals incorporating this communication feature. The detailed description and Figures will describe many of the embodiments and aspects of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a video gaming terminal according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a functional illustration of the display of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1 displaying a set of primary reels and a multiplier reel according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is another functional illustration of the display of the gaming terminal of FIG. 1 displaying a set of primary reels and a multiplier reel according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows timeline flow charts illustrating four sequences of gaming events in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a typical gaming terminal 10 used by gaming establishments, such as casinos. With regard to the present invention, the gaming terminal 10 may be any type of gaming terminal and may have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, the gaming terminal 10 may be a mechanical gaming terminal configured to play mechanical slots, or it may be an electromechanical or electrical gaming terminal configured to play video slots or a video casino game, such as blackjack, slots, keno, poker, etc. The multiplier reel of the present invention as more fully described below can be applied to any of the aforementioned gaming terminals.

As shown, the gaming terminal 10 includes input devices, such as a wager acceptor 16 (shown as a card wager acceptor 16a and a cash wager accepter 16b), a touch screen 21, a pushbutton panel 22, and an information reader 24. For outputs, the gaming terminal 10 includes a payout mechanism 23, a main display 26 for displaying information about the basic wagering game, and a secondary display 27 that may display an electronic version of a pay table, and/or also possibly game-related information or other entertainment features. While these typical components found in the gaming terminal 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other elements may exist and may be used in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming terminal.

The wager acceptor 16 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination. The cash wager acceptor 16a may include a coin slot acceptor or a note acceptor to input value to the gaming terminal 10. The card wager acceptor 16b may include a card-reading device for reading a card that has a recorded monetary value with which it is associated. The card wager acceptor 16b may also receive a card that authorizes access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming terminal 10.

Also included is the payout mechanism 23, which performs the reverse functions of the wager acceptor 16. For example, the payout mechanism 23 may include a coin dispenser or a note dispenser to output value from gaming terminal 10. Also, the payout mechanism 23 may also be adapted to receive a card that authorizes the gaming terminal to transfer credits from the gaming terminal 10 to a central account.

The push button panel 22 is typically offered, in addition to the touch screen 21, to provide players with an option on how to make their game selections. Alternatively, the push button panel 22 provides inputs for one aspect of operating the game, while the touch screen 21 allows for inputs needed for another aspect of operating the game.

The outcome of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the main display 26. The main display 26 may take the form of a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high resolution LCD, a plasma display, LED, or any other type of video display suitable for use in the gaming terminal 10. As shown, the main display 26 includes the touch screen 21 overlaying the entire monitor (or a portion thereof) to allow players to make game-related selections. Alternatively or additionally, the gaming terminal 10 may have a number of conventional mechanical reels (not shown) to display the game outcome.

In some embodiments, the information reader 24 is a card reader that allows for identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. Currently, identification is used by casinos for rewarding certain players with complementary services or special offers. For example, a player may be enrolled in the gaming establishment's players' club and may be awarded certain complementary services as that player collects points in his or her player-tracking account. The player inserts his or her card into the player-identification card reader 24, which allows the casino's computers to register that player's wagering at the gaming terminal 10. The information reader 24 may also include a keypad (not shown) for entering a personal identification number (PIN). The gaming terminal 10 may require that the player enter their PIN prior to obtaining information. The gaming terminal 10 may use the secondary display 27 for providing the player with information about his or her account or other player-specific information. Also, in some embodiments, the information reader 24 may be used to restore assets that the player achieved during a previous game session and had saved.

As shown in FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming terminal 10 are controlled by a central processing unit (CPU) 30 (such as a microprocessor or microcontroller). To provide the gaming functions, the CPU 30 executes a game program that allows for the randomly selected outcome. The CPU 30 is also coupled to or includes a local memory 32. The local memory 32 may comprise a volatile memory 33 (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory 34 (e.g., an EEPROM). It should be appreciated that the CPU 30 may include one or more microprocessors. Similarly, the local memory 32 may include multiple RAM and multiple program memories.

Communications between the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 10 and the CPU 30 occur through input/output (I/O) circuits 35a. As such, the CPU 30 also controls and receives inputs from the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 10. Further, the CPU 30 communicates with external systems via the I/O circuits 35b. Although the I/O circuits 35 may be shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuits 35 may include a number of different types of I/O circuits.

The gaming terminal 10 is typically operated as part of a game control network 50 having control circuitry and memory devices. The game control network 50 may optionally include a system memory 52 for alternative storage of data. The game network 50 can include instructions for playing games, such as progressive jackpots that are contributed to by all or some of the gaming terminals 10 in the network 50. The gaming terminal 10 often has multiple serial ports, each port dedicated to providing data to a specific host computer system that performs a specific function (e.g., account system, player-tracking system, progressive game control system, etc.). To set up a typical serial communication hardware link to the host system, the typical RS-232 point-to-point communication protocol that is often present in the gaming terminal 10 is converted to an RS-485 (or RS-485-type) master-slave protocol so as to take advantage of some of the advantages of the RS-485 capability (e.g., multi-drop capability that allows many gaming terminals 10 to communicate with the game control network 50). To perform this function, a custom interface board may be used by the gaming terminal 10 for each communication port in the gaming terminal 10. It should be noted that the gaming terminal 10 can initially be designed to be configured for a typical RS-485 protocol, instead of the typical RS-232 protocol. Further, the gaming terminal 10 may simply be designed for an Ethernet connection to the game control network 50.

As has been discussed, the gaming terminal 10 and/or the associated gaming network 50 is capable of executing such wagering games on or through a controller. The controller, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware that may be disposed or resident inside and/or outside of a gaming terminal 10 or like machine that may communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming terminal and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The network may include, but is no limited to a peer-to-peer, client/server, master/slave, star network, ring network, bus network, or other network architecture wherein at least one processing device (e.g., computer) is linked to at least one other processing device. The controller, as used herein, may comprise one or more controllers. In one implementation, each gaming terminal 10 comprises, or is connected to, a controller enabling each gaming terminal to transmit and/or receive signals, preferably both, in a peer-to-peer arrangement. In another example, the controller may be adapted to facilitate communication and/or data transfer for one or more gaming terminals 10 in a client/server or centralized arrangement. In the example shown in FIG. 2, the controller in the gaming terminal 10 comprises CPU 30 and the I/O circuits 35 (e.g., Network Interface Units) connecting the gaming terminal 10 via a conventional I/O port and communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc.) to the game network 50, which may include, for example other gaming terminals connected together in the network 50.

Turning now to FIG. 3, an illustration of an exemplary screen shot of the display 26 is shown. The display 26 shows a set of primary reels 300 and a multiplier reel 302. A plurality of symbols arranged on three reels are shown on the primary reels 300, however, in other embodiments fewer or more reels can be shown, such as five reels. A plurality of multiplier symbols are shown in the multiplier reel 302. In the particular example shown in FIG. 3, three multiplier symbols are displayed, namely, “½×,” “0×,” and “4×” corresponding to one-half, zero, and four times, respectively. Although only three rows of symbols are shown on the primary reels 300 and the multiplier reel 302, fewer or more rows can be shown in other embodiments.

The display 26 shown in FIG. 3 also displays “virtual” buttons 304, 306, 308 that are displayed through the touchscreen 21, and when the areas corresponding to these buttons are touched by a player a specific gaming function is performed. Thus, touching the button 304 applies the amount wagered to primary wagering game and causes the primary reels 300 to spin without activating the multiplier reel 302. No water is placed on the multiplier reel 302, and a payout commensurate with the amount wagered is awarded from a conventional payout table based on the symbols that fall along a selected payline on the primary reels 300. Note that the reels 300 do not actually spin in the illustrated embodiment—they only appear to spin on the display 26. However, in embodiments where the reels 300, 302 are conventional mechanical reels they do actually spin. The reels 300 and the primary reels 302 can spin (or appear to spin) independently of one another.

When touched, the button 306 designated “SPIN+MULTIPLIER” causes both reels 300, 302 to be spun (in the virtual sense in the illustrated embodiment and in the physical sense in embodiments where the reels are mechanical) though not necessarily simultaneously as further explained in connection with FIG. 5. When this button 306 is touched, a first wager amount is applied to the primary reels 300 and a second wager amount is applied to the multiplier reel 302. The player has in essence wagered on an eventual win or, stated another way, on the probability that the payout will be greater than nothing and that such payout will be increased above the payout amount. However, this type of wager carries a downside. The player may actually be awarded nothing even if the payout from the primary game is greater than zero, or the player may be awarded a fraction (such as one-half times the payout amount) of the payout amount from the primary game if it is greater than zero. Still, the incentive for the player to place a wager on the multiplier reel 302 is that the payout from the primary game may actually be substantially increased up to, for example, four times the primary payout amount. In one preferred embodiment, the multiplier symbols on the multiplier reel 302 include more positive outcome symbols (i.e., multipliers above 1×) so the players are more inclined to make the additional wager.

The other button 308 designated “MULTIPLIER” causes, when touched, a separate wager to be placed on the multiplier reel 302. This wager must be placed on the multiplier reel 302 before the game outcome is presented completely on the primary reels 300 or, in other words, before all of the primary reels 300 have come to a stop. This prevents the player from increasing the odds of enhancing the payout. Otherwise, the player could simply wait to see what the game outcome is in the primary game, and then if the game outcome is favorable, place a wager on the multiplier reel 302. To avoid this result, the button 308 designated MULTIPLIER must be activated before all of the primary reels 300 have come to a stop. In one embodiment, the button 308 must be activated before any of the primary reels 300 have come to a stop, and in other embodiments, the button 308 can be activated after any one or more of the primary reels 300 have come to a stop but before all of the primary reels 300 have come to a stop.

In yet another embodiment, the button 308 can be activated before the primary reels 300 are set in motion. In such embodiment, the player first places a wager on the multiplier reel 302 and then places a wager on the primary reels 300 before, during, or after the multiplier reel 302 is set in motion. Thus, the player can know before the primary game has begun whether the ultimate payout will be enhanced, further increasing the overall excitement of the game. For example, if the player places a wager on the multiplier reel 302 and hits the button 308, and the multiplier reel 302 stops on a “2×” multiplier, the player knows that if the primary reels 300 result in a winning combination of symbols, the payout will be double what it otherwise would have been without the multiplier. In this manner, the player's anticipation of a winning game outcome is increased.

The wager amount on the primary reels 300 and multiplier reel 302 can be the same or can be different. For example, both wager amounts may be set at one credit apiece. They can be placed together as a single wager or placed separately as different wagers. In addition, a wager on the multiplier reel 302 can be placed by hitting a separate button or can be placed by hitting the button 306 or 308, which also operates to set the multiplier reel 302 in motion.

An advantage of the present invention is that the overall wagers inputted into the gaming terminal 10 are increased for each spin of the reels 300. Because the player will not know the game outcome of the primary game before having to decide whether to place an additional wager on the probability (or perceived likelihood) that the game outcome will yield a winning payout, the player must place at least two wagers in order to enhance the eventual payout, one on the primary reels and one on the multiplier reel, before the game outcome is revealed. It can be said that the player is making a wager on the player's winnings before knowing whether they have been won. The player takes a risk of reducing or eliminating his winnings (payout) entirely from the primary game in exchange for a probability that those winnings will be enhanced. The lure of doubling or quadrupling the primary game payout will motivate players to place additional wagers and create the perception of the likelihood of increasing overall winnings during game play.

It should be emphasized that although the reels 300, 302 are shown simulated on the display 26 in FIG. 3, the present invention is equally applicable to mechanical reels, which are conventionally known in the art. Moreover, the input devices shown in FIG. 3 are represented by outlined areas on the touchscreen 21, but the present invention is equally applicable to any other suitable input device such as buttons on the push-button panel 22 (FIGS. 1-2).

Although only a primary game is mentioned, the present invention is equally applicable to any wagering game, including a wagering game that comprises a primary and a bonus game, for example. Generally speaking, the present invention allows the player to place an additional wager, before the game outcome is revealed to the player, on the probability (or perceived likelihood) that, whatever payout is awarded, it will be increased.

Turning now to FIG. 4, a different way of depicting a multiplier reel 402 is illustrated. The symbols on the multiplier reel 302 in FIG. 3 indicated the actual multiplier amount, such as ½×, 0×, and 4×. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4, the multiplier reel 402 includes symbols represented by blocks of different colors to indicate whether a payout resulting from a winning combination of symbols on primary reels 400 will be enhanced. Thus, for example, the two colors can be red and black. Three buttons 404, 406, 408 are also shown in the touchscreen 21 area of the display 26. If the button 406 designated “SPIN+RED” is activated by the player, the player is betting on the probability that the multiplier reel 402 will stop on a red symbol. If it does, the payout, if any, will be enhanced, such as by 2×, though in other embodiments any other multiplier will suffice. If it does not (i.e., the multiplier reel 402 stops on a color the player did not select), any payout awarded to the player in the primary game will be multiplied by zero, resulting in no award to the player, or alternatively, multiplied by 1×, resulting in no change in the award from the primary game.

In another embodiment, each red and black symbol on the multiplier reel 402 includes multiplier amounts, such as 2×, 3×, 4×, etc., such that selecting red and landing the multiplier reel 402 on red yields a multiplier amount displayed on that red symbol. If red is selected but the multiplier reel 402 lands on black, the primary award remains unchanged or is multiplied by 1×.

Alternatively, the player can activate the button 408 designated “SPIN+BLACK” to bet on the probability that the multiplier reel 402 will stop on a black symbol. If it does, the payout from the primary game will be enhanced (say, doubled), and if it does not, the player will be awarded nothing even if the primary game yielded a winning combination of symbols on the primary reels 400.

The present invention is hardly limited to the multiplier symbols depicted in FIGS. 3-4 on the multiplier reels 302, 402, respectively, but rather encompasses any symbol or combination of symbols that readily inform the player as to how much any payout awarded will be adjusted. For example, a depiction of two stacks of coins as a reel symbol could indicate a 2× multiplier. A skull-and-crossbones could indicate a multiplier of zero.

FIG. 5 shows four timeline flow charts 500, 502, 504, 506 illustrating four different but exemplary (and not exhaustive) sequences of events according to the present invention that can take place at the gaming terminal 10. The events are represented by letters as follows:

A: Receive wager on primary reels

B: Spin primary reels

C: Spin multiplier reel

D: Receive wager on multiplier reel

The primary reels can correspond to the primary reels 300 or 400, and the multiplier reel can correspond to the multiplier reel 302 or 402 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, respectively. For ease of discussion, FIG. 3 will be used. In all four timelines 500, 502, 504, 506, a wager on the multiplier reel 302 is received before the game outcome is presented on the primary reels 300.

In timeline 500, the gaming terminal 10 receives a wager on the primary reels 300 (A) and then sets the primary reels 300 in motion (B). Before the primary reels 300 have come to a stop, the gaming terminal 10 receives a wager on the multiplier reel 302 (D) and sets it in motion (C). The primary reels 300 come to a stop before the multiplier reel 302 comes to a stop. Thus, while the multiplier reel 302 is spinning, the player knows whether a winning outcome was achieved on the primary reels 300.

In timeline 502, the gaming terminal 10 receives a wager on the primary reels 300 (A) at or near the same time as it receives a wager on the multiplier reel 302 (D). The multiplier reel 302 is then set into motion (C) and comes to a stop on a multiplier symbol (e.g., 0×). At this point, the player already knows that regardless of the outcome on the primary reels 300, the player will be awarded nothing. The primary reels 300 are then set into motion (B) and quickly come to a stop so that another wager can be placed. In another embodiment, event (B) is eliminated because there is no possibility of an award and therefore spinning the primary reels 300 would be superfluous. Only if the multiplier reel 302 stopped on a nonzero multiplier symbol would event (B) occur.

In timeline 504, the gaming terminal 10 receives a wager on the primary reels 300 (A) and sets the primary reels 300 in motion (B). Shortly thereafter, the gaming terminal 10 receives a wager on the multiplier reel 302 (D) and sets that reel in motion (C). The multiplier reel 302 comes to a stop before all of the primary reels 300 come to a stop, revealing the game outcome. Here, the player knows whether an eventual payout will be increased or not before the game outcome is fully revealed.

Finally, in timeline 506, the gaming terminal 10 receives a wager on the primary reels 300 (A) at or near the same time as it receives a wager on the multiplier reel 302 (D). Shortly thereafter, the gaming terminal 10 sets both the primary reels 300 and the multiplier reel 302 in motion simultaneously or nearly simultaneously. Both reels 300, 302 come to a stop at or near the same time, revealing both the game outcome and whether any payout associated with the game outcome will be adjusted.

Numerous other timeline flow charts not illustrated in FIG. 5 are well within the scope and contemplation of the present invention, so long as a wager on the multiplier reel 302 is received before the game outcome is revealed to the player.

While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that many changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.