Title:
Wagering game with free-play outcome having a changing multiplier feature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a gaming terminal and a method of playing a wagering game having a free-play outcome and a multiplier feature that changes during the free game-play. The free game-play continues until a winning combination is achieved. The award associated with the winning combination is multiplied by the multiplier value achieved during the free-game play.



Inventors:
Anderson, Peter R. (Chicago, IL, US)
Flint, John D. (Chicago, IL, US)
Jaffe, Joel R. (Evanston, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/072956
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/03/2005
Assignee:
WMS Gaming Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIM, SENG HENG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON PEABODY LLP (70 West Madison, Suite 3500, CHICAGO, IL, 60602, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game, comprising: a basic game having a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of said basic game that has been selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to receiving a wager input, at least one of said plurality of outcomes being a special-event outcome, said special-event outcome allowing continued game-play until a winning outcome is achieved; a multiplier feature for multiplying an award associated with said winning outcome during said continued game-play; and wherein said multiplier feature changes with the games that are played during said continued game-play until said winning outcome is achieved.

2. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said special-event outcome awards free reel spins of a reel-spinning wagering game.

3. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said continued game-play includes further play of said basic game.

4. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said special-event outcome is a bonus-game outcome, and said continued game-play includes play of a bonus game that is different from said basic game.

5. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said multiplier feature randomly changes in value with each game that is played during said continued game-play.

6. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said multiplier feature changes in value in accordance with a predetermined set of values with each game that is played during said continued game-play.

7. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said multiplier feature includes a plurality of multiplier values, wherein said plurality of multiplier values increases with said each game that is played during said continued game-play.

8. The gaming terminal of claim 1, further comprising a display for displaying a plurality of values associated with said multiplier, wherein said display displays said plurality of values in successive progression in accordance with each non-winning outcome that is achieved.

9. The gaming terminal of claim 1, wherein said multiplier feature is affected by a symbol or combination of symbols that occurs during said continued game-play.

10. A method of playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal, said wagering game having a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of said wagering game, said randomly selected outcome being selected from a plurality of outcomes, said method comprising: in response to receiving a wager input from a player at said gaming terminal, conducting said wagering game; achieving a special-event outcome selected from said plurality of outcomes; in response to achieving said special-event outcome, providing free game-play until a winning outcome is achieved, each game that is played during said free-game play having a multiplier feature for multiplying an award associated with said winning outcome during said free game-play, said multiplier feature changing during said free-game play until a winning outcome is achieved during said free-game play; upon said winning outcome being achieved, awarding an award based on said winning outcome.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said wagering game includes a basic game and a bonus game, said free game-play includes play of said basic game.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein said wagering game includes a basic game and a bonus game, said special-event outcome is a start-bonus outcome and said free-game play includes play of said bonus game until said winning outcome is achieved.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein said multiplier feature includes a plurality of multiplier values for multiplying said award.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein said plurality of multiplier values increases with said each game that is played during said free game-play.

15. The method of claim 10, wherein said multiplier feature randomly changes in value with said each game that is played during said free game-play.

16. The method of claim 10, wherein said multiplier feature changes in value in accordance with a predetermined set of values with said each game that is played during said free game-play.

17. The method of claim 10, wherein said multiplier feature is affected by a symbol or combination of symbols that occurs during said free game-play.

18. A computer readable storage medium encoded with instructions for directing said gaming terminal to perform the method of claim 10.

19. A gaming terminal for playing a wagering game, comprising: a display for displaying a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of said wagering game, said randomly selected outcome being selected from a plurality of outcomes, one of said plurality of outcomes including a special-event outcome, said special event outcome providing free game-play to a player until a winning outcome is achieved; a multiplier feature for enhancing an award obtained by achieving said winning outcome, said multiplier feature increasing during said free game-play until said winning outcome is achieved; and a controller coupled to said display, said controller operative to conduct said wagering game and to provide an award to said player corresponding to said winning outcome.

20. The gaming terminal of claim 19, wherein said multiplier feature is associated with values that randomly increase with each play of said free game-play.

21. The gaming terminal of claim 19, wherein said multiplier feature is associated with values that increase in accordance with a predetermined set of values with each play of said free game-play.

22. The gaming terminal of claim 19, wherein said controller is located within said gaming terminal.

23. A method for playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal, said wagering game having a plurality of outcomes, said method comprising: achieving a free-play outcome that provides free game-play of said wagering game; activating said free game-play until a winning outcome is achieved, said free game-play having a multiplier value that changes during said free game-play; and awarding an award associated with said winning outcome, said award being multiplied by said multiplier value that is applicable when said winning outcome is achieved.

Description:

COPYRIGHT

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a gaming terminal and method of playing a wagering game at the gaming terminal, and more particularly, to a gaming terminal and method of playing a wagering game having a play-til-you-win feature that allows a player to continue playing until a winning combination is achieved. The wagering game also includes a multiplier feature that changes as the player continues to play while the play-til-you-win feature is activated.

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 concept that has been successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of a game is that of a “bonus” game which may be played in conjunction with a “basic” game. The bonus game may comprise any type of game, either similar to or completely different from the basic game, and is entered upon the occurrence of a selected event or outcome of the basic game. Such a bonus game produces a significantly higher level of player excitement than the basic game because it provides a greater expectation of winning than the basic game.

Another concept that has been employed is the use of a progressive jackpot. In the gaming industry, a “progressive” involves collecting coin-in data from participating gaming device(s) (e.g., slot machines), contributing a percentage of that coin-in data to a jackpot amount, and awarding that jackpot amount to a player upon the occurrence of a certain jackpot-won event. The percentage of the coin-in is determined prior to any result being achieved and is independent of any result. A jackpot-won event typically occurs when a “progressive winning position” is achieved at a participating gaming device. If the gaming device is a slot machine, a progressive winning position may, for example, correspond to alignment of progressive jackpot reel symbols along a certain payline. The initial progressive jackpot is a predetermined minimum amount. That jackpot amount, however, progressively increases as players continue to play the gaming machine without winning the jackpot. Further, when several gaming machines are linked together such that several players at several gaming machines compete for the same jackpot, the jackpot progressively increases at a much faster rate, which leads to further player excitement.

In addition to the features described above, wagering game operators are continually striving to find new ways to attract new players and keep current players at the gaming terminals. One way of accomplishing this is to provide wagering games having a feature that allows players to “play-til-they-win.” This feature, in effect, allows free game play until the player achieves a winning outcome in the wagering game. A player may ultimately play only a single game or may play several games before a winning outcome is achieved. Other features that continue to attract players include the use of multipliers to enhance awards earned by the players. Such multipliers add to the gaming experience by offering increased awards without requiring additional wager inputs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game is comprised of a basic game having a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of the basic game that has been selected from a plurality of outcomes in response to receiving a wager input. At least one of the plurality of outcomes is a special-event outcome. The special-event outcome allows continued game-play until a winning outcome is achieved. The gaming terminal also includes a multiplier feature for multiplying an award associated with the winning outcome during the continued game-play. The multiplier feature changes with the games that are played during the continued game-play until the winning outcome is achieved.

In another aspect of the present invention a method of playing a wagering game at a gaming terminal is disclosed. The wagering game has a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of the wagering game. The randomly selected outcome is selected from a plurality of outcomes. The method is comprised of conducting the wager game in response to receiving a wager input from a player at the gaming terminal and achieving a special-event outcome selected from the plurality of outcomes. In response to achieving the special-event outcome, the method provides free game-play until a winning outcome is achieved. Each game that is played during the free-game play has an multiplier feature associated therewith. The multiplier feature changes during the free-game play until a winning outcome is achieved during the free-game play. Upon achieving a winning outcome, the method awards an award based on the winning outcome.

In another aspect of the present invention, a gaming terminal for playing a wagering game is comprised of a display for displaying a plurality of symbols that indicate a randomly selected outcome of the wagering game. The randomly selected outcome is selected from a plurality of outcomes. One of the plurality of outcomes includes a special-event outcome. The special event outcome provides free game-play to a player until a winning outcome is achieved. The gaming terminal includes a multiplier feature for enhancing an award obtained by achieving a winning outcome. The multiplier feature increases during the free game-play until the winning outcome is achieved. A controller coupled to the display operates to conduct the wagering game and to provide an award to the player that corresponds to the winning outcome.

The above summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment or every aspect of the present invention. 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 gaming terminal according to one embodiment of the present invention.

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

FIG. 3 illustrates a main display of a gaming terminal according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a secondary display of a gaming terminal according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a main display and secondary display having a multiplier feature according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates the main display and the secondary display of FIG. 5 wherein the multiplier feature has increased.

FIG. 7 illustrates the main display and the secondary display of FIG. 5 wherein the main display indicates a winning outcome of the wagering game.

FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of an alternative gaming terminal that can be used with 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

The present invention is directed to a gaming terminal and a method of playing a wagering game at the gaming terminal that includes player-attractive features that enhance game-play and offer players more and greater ways to win. Specifically, the gaming terminal of the present invention provides a free-play outcome that allows free game-play until a winning outcome is achieved. Additionally, as the player continues to play after receiving the free-play outcome, a multiplier feature changes during the free game-play. Once a winning outcome occurs, the player receives the corresponding award that is multiplied by the last multiplier value achieved during the free game-play.

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.

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 push-button 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, information about a bonus game, 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 16b may include a coin slot acceptor or a note acceptor to input value to the gaming terminal 10. The card wager acceptor 16a 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 16a 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. 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 gaming terminal 10 may include a lever 25 that allows a player to initiate game play after inputting a wager input into the wager acceptor 16. Alternatively, or in addition to the lever 25, buttons on the touch screen 21 or the push-button panel 22 may also initiate game play.

The outcome of the 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, the gaming terminal 10 may have a number of mechanical reels to display the game outcome, as well. The secondary display 27 may display information relating to the basic wagering game or a bonus game. Like the main display 26, the secondary display 27 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.

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 complimentary services or special offers. For example, a player may be enrolled in the gaming establishment's players' club and may be awarded certain complimentary 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.

Some gaming terminals 10 may also include a multiplier display 70. The multiplier display 70 may be included on the secondary display 27 or may be a display that is distinct from the secondary display 27 (as shown in the alternative embodiment of FIG. 8). The multiplier display 70 may display a plurality of multiplier values that change as the player continues to play the wagering game. Alternatively, the multiplier values may remain constant during the current gaming session. In yet other alternatives, the multiplier display 70 may change when a player returns to the wagering game at a later time.

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.

In some embodiments, the CPU 30 may not be inside the gaming terminal 10. Instead, the CPU 30 may be part of a game network 50 (FIG. 2) and may be used to control numerous gaming terminals 10. In these embodiments, the CPU 30 will run the basic games for each of the gaming terminals 10, and may also be used to link the gaming terminals 10 together. The game network 50 can include progressive jackpots that are contributed to by all or some of the gaming terminals 10 in the network (e.g., terminal-level jackpots that only each terminal 10 contributes to, bank-level jackpots that are contributed to by all of the terminals 10 in a particular bank, and wide-area jackpots that are contributed to by a larger number of terminals 10, such as multiple banks).

The gaming terminal 10 and associated gaming control system is capable of executing wagering games on or through a controller 60. Controller 60, 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 which 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 not 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 60 may comprise the I/O circuits 35a and 35b and the CPU 30. In other embodiments, the CPU 30 may be housed outside of the controller 60, and a different processor may be housed within the controller 60.

The controller 60, as used herein, may comprise one or more controllers. In one implementation, each gaming terminal 10 comprises, or is connected to, a controller 60 enabling each gaming terminal 10 to transmit and/or receive signals, preferably both, in a peer-to-peer arrangement. In another example, the controller 60 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 one aspect, shown in FIG. 2, the controller 60 may connect the gaming terminal 10 via a conventional I/O port and communication path (e.g. serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc.) to a game network 50, which may include, for example, other gaming terminals connected together in the network 50. Furthermore, the wagering game of the present invention may be played via a computer readable medium encoded with instructions for directing the gaming terminal.

The main display 26 of one embodiment of the present invention is shown in more detail in FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the basic wagering game is a slot machine game, with symbols on three reels 36, 38, 40. The reels 36, 38, 40 may be either traditional mechanical reels or they may be computer-generated images of reels, with each reel including a plurality of symbols. Upon receiving a wager input, the payline indicator(s) 46 indicate which paylines have been selected (i.e., activated) by the player. A randomly selected outcome from a plurality of outcomes is then indicated along the active paylines in the form of a combination of symbols on the reels 36, 38, 40. An outcome indicator 48 indicates whether the outcome has resulted in a winning outcome or a non-winning outcome. While a single payline is shown, a gaming terminal 10 with multiple paylines will also work with the present invention. Additionally, while the embodiment shown in FIG. 3 includes three reels, gaming terminals having more than three reels are also contemplated by the present invention.

Once a player places a wager, the randomly selected outcome is displayed via the main display 26 on reels 36, 38, 40. If the randomly selected outcome corresponds to a special-event outcome, such as a free-play outcome, the player may be awarded free spins of a reel-spinning wagering game. Alternatively, the special-event outcome may correspond to a start-bonus outcome, and a player may be awarded free play of a bonus game. In both scenarios, the special-event outcome awards free play of a wagering game.

The randomly selected outcome that corresponds to a free-play outcome may be triggered by any number of symbol combinations. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, the free-play outcome may be triggered by a bonus symbol 49 on the third reel (reel 40) that is aligned along an active payline. Additionally, the free-play outcome may be triggered by a bonus symbol 49 on any reel along any active payline. Many other symbols combinations exist that may trigger the free-play outcome.

As explained above, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the appearance of the bonus symbol 49 on reel 40 triggers the free-play outcome, shown here as the “Top of the World” bonus. The free-play outcome puts the player into the free-play bonus game where he or she is allowed to play the “Top of the World” bonus game until a winning combination occurs. The winning combinations for this particular embodiment are shown in the secondary display 27 in FIG. 4. The player continues to receive free spins until one of the winning combinations shown in the secondary display 27 occurs.

The secondary display 27 also includes a multiplier display 70. The multiplier display 70 displays a bonus game paytable that contains a multiplier value (i.e., 1×, 2×, 4×, etc.) resulting in a plurality of multiplier awards that correspond to the winning symbol combinations that can be achieved in the wagering game. As used, herein, the reference numeral 70 will be used with a suffix (e.g., a, b, c, d) to indicate the progression of the multiplier value (and awards) on the multiplier display 70. The multiplier display 70a in FIG. 4 displays the multiplier value that would be applied if a player achieves a winning combination after his or her first free spin, i.e., a “1×” multiplier. As the player continues to play the bonus game, the multiplier value in the multiplier display 70a changes as a player continues the free game-play.

As shown in FIG. 5, after each non-winning spin, the multiplier value increases in a predetermined manner. Specifically, each non-winning game (as shown in the main display 26 of FIG. 5) advances the multiplier value to the next predetermined multiplier value. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the next multiplier value shown in the multiplier display 70b is “2×.” Accordingly, the multiplier awards in multiplier display 70b are twice the multiplier awards shown in multiplier display 70a.

If in the next three free spins of the illustrated embodiment a player achieves three more non-winning combinations, then the corresponding multiplier value continues to increase so as to result in a “5×” multiplier, as shown in multiplier display 70c (FIG. 6). This multiplier increases the multiplier awards by five times the original multiplier awards shown in multiplier display 70a. This pattern of increasing the multiplier value continues until a player hits a winning combination. The multiplier value in the multiplier display 70 may reach a predetermined maximum value, e.g., “20×,” at which point the player may continue playing at the maximum multiplier limit. In alternative embodiments, the multiplier values may change randomly or cyclically (i.e., increase for a few spins, then decrease for a few spins) during the free game-play instead of changing according to a predetermined set of increasing values.

In some embodiments, the multiplier may be affected by certain symbols or combinations of symbols that occur on the reels during the free game-play. For example, the multiplier may increase by more than one multiplier value, i.e., from “1×” to “3×,” instead of increasing by only a single multiplier value, i.e., from “1×” to “2×.” This feature may be triggered when a player achieves a certain symbol on a payline during the free-play bonus. For example, after achieving a bonus symbol 49 on the payline as shown in the main display 26 in FIG. 6, the next multiplier value that is activated is “7×” (not shown) instead of “6×.” In other embodiments, the multiplier may increase, or even decrease, by several multiplier values. Additionally, certain symbols that occur on an active payline (or multiple paylines) may offer awards during the free-game play and still continue the free-game play until a winning combination occurs. For instance, a player may be awarded a certain number of credits for achieving a bonus symbol 49 on a payline and still be allowed to continue the free game-play.

As explained above, the free-play bonus continues until one of the free plays produces a winning combination on the reels. As shown in FIG. 7, the main display 26 displays a winning symbol combination set forth in the bonus game pay table in the secondary display 27. The award associated with the winning combination is then multiplied by the multiplier value according to the multiplier display 70d. In this case, the player receives an award (240 credits) that is equal to 12 times (“12×”) the original award amount, which is shown in FIG. 4 as 20 credits.

In another embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 8 illustrates a gaming terminal 110 having a multiplier display 170. The multiplier display 170 includes a ring with multiplier values positioned in a circular pattern around the ring. In this embodiment, the multiplier display 170 is positioned adjacent to the secondary display 127, instead of within the secondary display 127. The multiplier display 170 may incorporate a theme similar to the theme of the basic and bonus games displayed on the main display 126 and the secondary display 127.

In FIG. 8, an alternative gaming terminal 110 is illustrated with 100-series reference numerals that correspond to similarly numbered structures in the gaming terminal 10 of FIGS. 1-7. The “Thunder Struck”-themed multiplier display 170 displays a plurality of multiplier values that include “1×,” “2×,” “3×,” “4×,” “5×,” “6×,” “7×,” “8×,” “9×,” “10×,” “11×,” “12×,” “13×,” “14×,” “15×” and “20×.” Similar to the “Top of the World” bonus described above, the “Thunder Struck” bonus is triggered when a free-play outcome is achieved. Accordingly, the multiplier value changes with each non-winning outcome, beginning with “1×” and continuing to the next multiplier in a clock-wise fashion. The current multiplier value may be lit up or highlighted to indicate which multiplier value is active. Upon receiving a winning outcome, the award associated with the winning outcome is multiplied by the current multiplier value. The multiplier display 170 of FIG. 8 is useful for displaying a randomly changing multiplier as the multiplier-value indicators on the multiplier display 170 could randomly flash after each non-winning spin, and then stop on a value that will apply to the next spin.

The multiplier display 70 may be displayed in many different forms in addition to what is described above. For example, once a player achieves a free-play outcome in a basic game, a multiplier may be displayed on a video display. As the free game-play continues, the multiplier displayed on the video display may change according to set of predetermined values as non-winning outcomes occur. Alternatively, the multiplier may change in a random manner.

In yet other embodiments of the present invention, the multiplier values change after a certain number of free-play spins (or non-winning outcomes) instead of changing after each free-play spin. For instance, the multiplier value may change after every two or three free-play spins. The next multiplier value that is displayed may be the next multiplier value of a set of predetermined values (such that the player is aware of what the next multiplier value will be) or may be a randomly generated multiplier value (such that the player is surprised when the next multiplier value is revealed).

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.