Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR GAMBLING USING COMBINATIONS OF GAMING DEVICES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Method and systems are provided for using electronic game-pieces or e-tokens in games of chance. Electronic game-pieces allow players of games of chance to participate in real-time in games of chance, to effect real-time wagers, to dynamically adjust the players' odds of winning, and to re-use or create combinations of game-pieces to increase players' odds of winning or players' odds of winning different prizes. Multi-player games are also described in which multiple players may engage in cooperative or competitive wagering or game play.



Inventors:
Doutriaux, Stephane Pierre (Stittsville, CA)
Application Number:
11/741740
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
04/28/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
340/323R
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F13/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
DOSHI, ANKIT B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stephane Doutriaux (173 Huntmar Dr., Stittsville, ON, K2S 1B9, CA)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of playing a game of chance using electronic game-pieces, the method comprising: providing a plurality of electronic game-pieces for use in the game of chance; receiving or forming a combination of a first and a second electronic game-piece; and determining if the received combination of the first and second electronic game-pieces is a winning combination.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the forming a combination of the first and the second game-pieces comprises establishing communication between the first and second game-pieces.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein if the combination of the first and the second game-pieces is a winning combination, a player of the game of chance is eligible to win a prize.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising: assigning to each electronic game-piece of the plurality of game-pieces a probability of being a winning game-piece.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the determining comprises performing a random drawing.

6. The method of claim 4, further comprising: assigning to the combination of the first and second electronic game-pieces a probability of being a winning combination.

7. The method of claim 6, further comprising: performing a random drawing, wherein the determining if the received combination is a winning combination is based at least in part on the result of the random drawing and on the odd of the combination being a winning combination

8. The method of claim 1, wherein at least one game-piece of the combination of game-pieces is a game-piece reader.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the determining further comprises: receiving an identifier from each of the first and the second game-pieces, wherein each identifier is either a unique identifier uniquely identifying the game piece from which it is received or a batch identifier, identifying the batch or type of the game piece from which it has been received; determining whether the combination of the received identifiers is a winning combination.

10. An electronic system (or “game piece” for use in a game of chance, the system: An electronic circuit Exposed electrical contacts, or embedded communication circuitry, operative to transmit or receive data between several game pieces.

11. The electronic game piece of claim 10 further comprising: a memory; wherein the memory is operative to: storing an identifier which can be retrieved by a complementary circuit and used to determine if this game piece or another game-piece with which the circuit is communicating is a winning game-piece.

12. The electronic game piece of claim 11 further comprising: a microprocessor; wherein the microprocessor is operative to: communicating with other game pieces to determine if a particular game-piece with which it is communicating is a winning game-piece (including itself).

13. An electronic gaming system for use in a game of chance, the system comprising: a memory; a microprocessor; a plurality of electronic game-pieces such as described in claim 10; and communication circuitry operative to transmit or receive data between the game-piece and the electronic gaming system; wherein the microprocessor is operative to: communicate with electronic game-pieces of the plurality of electronic game-pieces; and determine if a particular game-piece is a winning game-piece.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the microprocessor is further configured to: perform a random drawing; and determine if the particular game-piece is a winning game-piece based at least in part on the result of the drawing.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the microprocessor is further configured to: assign to each electronic game-piece of the plurality of game-pieces a probability of being a winning game-piece; and determine if the particular game-piece is a winning game-piece based at least in part on the odds of the game-piece being a winning game-piece.

16. The system of claim 13, wherein the microprocessor is further configured to: receive a combination of identifiers from a first and a second game-piece; and determine if the received combination of game-pieces is a winning combination.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein the microprocessor is further configured to: perform a random drawing; and determine if the received combination of game-pieces is a winning combination based at least in part on the result of the random drawing.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein the microprocessor is further configured to: assign to the received combination a probability of being a winning combination; and determine if the received combination is a winning combination based at least in part on the probability of the received combination being a winning combination.

19. The system of claim 13, wherein each electronic game-piece is further configured to: communicate with other electronic game-pieces of the plurality of game-pieces; and determine if the game-piece is a winning game-piece.

20. The system of claim 13, wherein each electronic game-piece is further configured to: communicate with other electronic game-pieces of the plurality of game-pieces; and determine if the combination of the game-piece with a game-piece with which it is in communication is a winning combination.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to systems and methods for use in lottery, gambling, and other games and applications. More particularly, the invention relates to games of chance having odds dependent on combinations of game-pieces. The invention also relates to game-pieces or tokens that are capable of interacting with each other.

Lottery-based games may be classified as being either instant lottery games (ILGs) or drawing-based lottery games. Instant Lottery Games (ILGs) rely on pre-printed tickets for their operation, the pre-printed tickets having winning information obscured by a latex or other covering layer. A player may scratch or rub part of the covering layer off of the ticket in order to determine whether the ticket is a winning ticket. The winning or non-winning status of an ILG ticket is generally determined at the time it is printed, and the ticket's status is fixed thereafter.

Drawing-based lottery games (DBLGs) rely on randomized drawings to identify winners. Players may purchase tickets for a particular drawing or set of drawings before any of the drawings occur, each ticket having a set of numbers or other identifiers thereon. A particular ticket may be a winning ticket if one or more of the identifiers on the ticket matches an identifier drawn during the randomized drawing.

In both ILGs and DBLGs, the odds of a particular tickets being a winning ticket are fixed. In particular, a player cannot alter the odds that a particular ticket will be a winning ticket. Because the winning status of tickets is fixed, and because players cannot take active roles in determining or influencing the winning status of tickets, players may quickly lose interest in such games. It would therefore be desirable to provide lottery methods and systems which allow players to take more active roles in determining or influencing the winning status of lottery tickets.

In addition, in both ILGs and DBLGs, tickets are valid for a single play (in the case of an ILG ticket) or a particular drawing (in the case of a DBLG ticket). Once a play or drawing has taken place, tickets for the plays or drawing can no longer be used. In order to provide players with incentives to repeatedly play particular ILGs and DBLGs, it would be desirable to allow users to use ILG and DBLG tickets for multiple plays or drawings.

It is an objective of the present invention to increase in the engagement of players of ILGs and DBLGs in the games of chance they engage in. In particular, it is an object of the invention to provide lottery and gaming methods and systems allowing players to play active roles in determining the winning odds of game pieces or tokens. It is a further objective of the invention to allow players to use game pieces or tokens for multiple plays or multiple drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the principles of the invention, systems and methods are provided for allowing variable odds gambling using selectable combinations of electronic gaming devices.

This invention comprises methods for playing a game of chance where the player can use combinations of electronic game pieces in order to alter his odds of winning.

This invention further comprises electronic systems for playing such a game of chance, such as described in the following sample embodiment.

In one embodiment, electronic game-pieces or e-tokens are provided to the player. These e-tokens are combined by the player through electrical contact and act to provide a portion of the game, generating various types of “win” or a lose, which are communicated to the player by means of surface or edge-mounted LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) or other types of visual displays or audible signals. Through combining several e-tokens the player has the possibility of modifying (possibly enhancing) the odds of winning, as it is the combination of game-pieces containing different types of information that generates the game results.

The various embodiments of the present invention may, but do not necessarily, achieve one or more of the following advantages: Providing lottery and gaming methods and systems allowing players to have an active role in determining the winning odds of their game pieces. Providing incentives for players to repeatedly play the game as their game pieces can be re-used in combination with new game pieces to improve their odds of winning. Providing players with increased enjoyment in taking part in a game of chance where the game pieces contain electronics that make playing them more attractive as they may generate light or sounds when played.

Further features of the invention, its nature and various advantages, will be more apparent from the accompanying drawings and the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A-1F show schematic diagrams of e-tokens in accordance with the principles of the invention.

FIG. 2 shows a schematic diagram of circuitry that may be used in an e-token in accordance with the principles of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows a simplified flow diagram of a method for participating in a game or lottery in accordance with the principles of the invention.

FIG. 4 shows a flow diagram of a method for participating in a game or lottery in accordance with the principles of the invention.

FIG. 5 shows a flow diagram of a method for participating in a multi-player game or lottery in accordance with the principles of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is directed to methods and systems for use in playing lottery, gambling, or otherwise engaging in games of chance or other games. The terms lottery, gambling, and games of chance refer generally to games in which one or more individuals (referred to herein as “players”) can engage, and in which the outcomes of game-plays are random or otherwise unpredictable. The term “game” refers to a set of rules and procedures which define the series of actions or events (i.e., the “course of play”) leading to a game outcome. A game outcome may be positive (a “win”) or negative (a “loss”). A game outcome may include multiple outcomes, for example in games in which multiple players can win or lose. A game outcome may be influenced by odds of winning, as well as by actions taken or events occurring during a game. A “game-play” is an action or a series of actions or events that are under a player's control and that can give rise to a game outcome. A game-play may include, for example, the purchasing of a game piece by a player or the wagering of a game piece.

The methods and systems described herein allow players of games of chance to take active roles in the games they engage in by providing the players with the ability to influence the odds and/or the outcomes of their game plays. The methods and systems also allow players to engage in multiple games, multiple game-plays, or various combinations of games and game-plays using a single game piece or multiple game pieces.

In one embodiment of the invention, a player may engage in a game of chance by using one or more game pieces. Game pieces may take multiple physical forms including tickets, tokens, chips or poker-chips, or similar devices. Game pieces may also take virtual forms including electronic data (e.g., a cookie, a digital packet, or other set of digital data), or other data such as unique combinations of numbers, letters, or other identifiers. Game pieces may be uniquely identifiable, but may also be identifiable by “batch” or by “type” (a plurality of game pieces having the same identifier), and may also be generic. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a game piece may take the form of an electronic device which is uniquely identifiable or whose “type” is uniquely identifiable.

FIGS. 1A-1F show illustrative embodiments of electronic game pieces or “e-tokens” 100 in accordance with the principles of the invention. E-tokens 100 may include a decorative and protective casing 101. In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1A-1F, casing 101 is token shaped and has the approximate dimensions of a poker chip with a diameter of approximately 3 cm and a thickness of approximately 0.5 cm. Other shapes and sizes of casing may also be used. Casing 101 may include decorative features. At least one surface of casing 101 may include one or more LEDs 104, LCD displays 102, or other displays or lights as shown in FIG. 1A. LEDs 104 and LCD displays 102 may also be placed on other surfaces of casing 101, for example on the outside edge of a poker-chip shaped token as shown in FIG. 1E. LEDs 104 and LCDs 102 may be used to provide visual feedback to a player indicating that the e-token has entered a new state or that the player has won a prize. FIG. 1D shows two views of e-tokens 100 in which LEDs 104 are lit up and LCD 102 displays a text message, thereby providing visual feedback to a player. Other feedback means may be incorporated into e-token 100 and casing 101. For example, auditory feedback means such as a speaker or buzzer may be mounted inside casing 101. User input means such as push-buttons may also be included on casing 101.

In embodiments in which e-token 100 communicates with other e-tokens 100 and/or with an e-token reader 108 (also referred to as “game piece reader) through a wired connection, casing 101 may include one or more electrical contacts 106 on at least one casing surface, as shown in FIG. 1B. Electrical contacts 106 may also be used to charge a battery in e-token 100. The visual display devices 102 and 104 and electrical contacts 106 may be on the same or different surfaces of casing 101.

FIG. 1C shows two e-tokens 100 being stacked together such that they come into electrical contact or wireless communication with each other. Tokens 100 may be substantially lined up with each other such that electrical contacts 106 on their surfaces come into electrical contact when the tokens form a stack. Various features of the external casing 101 may be designed such that e-tokens 100 stack together neatly and remain stacked unless pulled or taken apart. Casing 101 design features may also be used to ensure that the electrical contacts 106 on adjacent e-tokens in a stack line up with each other and form stable electrical connections. Once two e-tokens are coupled to each other (through electrical contacts 106 or a wireless connection), various LED lights 104 or LCD displays 102 may light up to indicate that a connection has been made as shown in FIG. 1D.

FIG. 1F shows an e-token reader 108 (or “game piece reader”) on top of which may be stacked a plurality of e-tokens 100. Token reader 108 may include electrical contacts 110 or casing design features 112 which are complementary of the electrical contacts 106 or casing 101 features of tokens 100. Electrical contacts 100 may be used to communicate with and/or recharge e-tokens that are coupled to reader 108.

FIG. 2 shows illustrative circuitry 800 which may be used to implement the functionality of e-token 100. Circuitry 800 may take the form of an integrated circuit 820, an application specific integrated circuit (“ASIC”), a programmable logic device (“PLD”), circuitry mounted on a circuit board, or any combination of circuitries. Circuitry 800 may include any of a processor 802, a memory 804 including a read-only ROM memory 805, an integrated circuit 806 including programmable PLD and/or ASIC circuitry, a transceiver 808 or other input/output circuit, and a user interface circuit 810. The components of circuitry 800 may be coupled to each other and communicate through a system bus 812. Circuitry 800 may include additional elements than those shown in FIG. 2. For example, circuitry 800 may include a clock and/or a battery.

Processor 802 and/or integrated circuitry 806 is operative to control the operation of circuitry 800. Processor 802 and integrated circuitry 806 may rely on game data stored in memory 804 to operate. Game data for one or more games may be stored in memory 804. The game data may be stored in read-only memory or in read/write memory. Memory 804 may also include ROM 805 storing an identifier used to identify an e-token. The identifier stored in ROM 805 may be a unique identifier used to uniquely identify a particular e-token, or a “batch” identifier used to identify a particular type of e-token. Transceiver 808 may be used to enable communication between circuitry 820 and other e-tokens, between circuitry 820 and an e-token reader, and/or between circuitry 820 and WIFI, LAN, or other networking circuitry, and/or between circuitry 820 and other circuitry used in conjunction with an e-token. Transceiver 808 may be used for wired or wireless communication, and may be coupled to metal contacts located on the casing of e-token 100 and/or to an antenna or other wireless communication device located within e-token 100. User interface circuitry 810 may include one or more LED diodes 104, LCD displays 102, or other user interface devices including buzzers and speakers. User interface circuitry 810 may also include one or more buttons or other user input devices.

The e-tokens described in connection with FIGS. 1A-F and 2 may be used in a wide variety of games of chance. E-tokens may replace the tickets and scratch cards used in ILGs and DBLGs. Different e-tokens may be used for different games and different lotteries. The e-tokens used in different games and lotteries may differ in their casing shape, size, styling, and appearance, communication, electronic and processing capabilities, or in other respects. Alternatively, identical e-tokens may be used in different games and lotteries. The particular game or games that an e-token is used in may be determined by the e-token reader that the e-token is connected to at the time of play. The particular game or games that an e-token is used in may be determined by the number or types of e-tokens connected in a stack, by user input (e.g., by a user pushing a button mounted on the e-token casing or reader), or through other appropriate means.

Security features may be incorporated in e-tokens and other game pieces described herein. Security features may include electronic security features ensuring that unauthorized communication with or tampering with e-tokens is barred. Security features may include electronic and physical identifiers that enable e-tokens to be certified as being authentic, and that enable game administrators to identify e-tokens that have been tampered with.

FIG. 3 shows a flow diagram of a method 300 for participating in a game or lottery in accordance with the principles of the invention. The flow diagram of FIG. 3 is provided for purposes of illustration and should not be understood to limit the uses of e-tokens and game pieces described herein. Steps shown in FIG. 3 may be eliminated, combined with other steps, replaced by other steps, or re-ordered in various other embodiments of the invention. Method 300 begins at step 301 with the selection of a game to engage in. At step 303, one or more tokens or other game pieces, or one or more combinations of tokens and game pieces, may be selected as a wager in the selected game. Once both the game and the tokens are selected, a random game drawing may occur at step 305, and the game outcome may be determined at step 307. Following step 307, the player may decide to stop playing, may claim a prize, or may engage in an additional game and return to one of steps 301 or 303.

The selection of the game at step 301 is generally done by the player of the game. A player may select a game to play by purchasing or using a game piece 100 or a game piece reader 108 that is associated with a particular game, by pressing a button on a game piece reader or a game piece to identify a game to play, or by taking any other action that may be used to identify a game to play. For example, if one or more of the game pieces, tokens, or combinations of game pieces and tokens selected by a player at step 303 is associated with a particular game, the particular game may automatically be selected. Game selection may also be done through other means, such as an automatic and/or random game selection done by the token reader, a game selection done by another player, or other appropriate automatic game selection means.

Various numbers, types, or combinations of game pieces may be selected by the player at step 303. The particular number, type, or combination of e-tokens or other game pieces selected by the user may affect the player's odds of wining the game or of obtaining a positive outcome. The selection of game pieces may also influence the type or size of the prize that the player may win should a positive game outcome be achieved. E-tokens of different types may cost different amounts when purchased, and may have different values or give rise to different types of prizes or prize amounts. E-tokens of different types may also be useable during different periods of time, for different numbers or types of games, or in combination with various types of game pieces or game piece readers. The selection of game-pieces and/or combinations of game pieces for use in a game-play may be referred to as the player's wager in the game play.

At step 305, a random game drawing occurs. The random drawing may occur at a scheduled time (e.g., at a particular date and time), at regular intervals (e.g., once a day/week/month), upon the occurrence of a particular event (e.g., once a particular number of tokens have been wagered in the game), or at a time of the player's choosing. The result of the random drawing is used at step 307 to determine the game outcome(s) and to determine whether the player has won a prize. The game outcomes will, in general, depend on the odds of wining as determined by the game and tokens or combinations of tokens selected for play, as well as on the result of the random drawing. The prize or prizes won by a player will, in general, depend on the game outcome and on the tokens or combinations of tokens selected for play.

FIGS. 4 and 5 describe in greater detail various games that may be implemented using e-tokens in accordance with the principles of the invention.

FIG. 4 shows an illustrative game-play 400 in accordance with the principles of the invention. In game-play 400, a player may decide to play a particular game at step 401. At step 402, the player may acquire two game-pieces or tokens “A” and “B”, for example by purchasing the game-pieces. By pressing the two game pieces together, the player activates the combination of the game-pieces at step 403. The combining of the game-pieces at step 403 may serve as an indication that the player is wagering the selected game-pieces in the random drawing that occurs at step 404. At step 404, a random drawing determines whether one, both, and/or the combination of game-pieces is a winner. If one of the game-pieces, or a combination of game-pieces, is a winner (also referred to as a “winning combination”), a display of flashing lights around the periphery of the winning game-piece(s) may indicate the winning status at step 405. If one, both, or the combination of game-pieces is not a winning game-piece, game-play ends at step 406. Alternatively at step 406, the player may acquire one or more additional game-pieces. At step 407, the player may combine the newly acquired game-pieces with one or both of the game-pieces, or the combination of game-pieces, previously combined at step 403. Following step 407, game-play flow reverts to step 404 where it is determined whether one or more of the game-pieces, or combinations of game-pieces created at step 407, is a winning combination.

The invention contemplates variations on the game-play described in connection with FIG. 4. For example, a player may acquire more than two game-pieces at step 402. A player may acquire game-pieces by purchasing the game-pieces at a store. Alternatively, the player may acquire a game-piece by obtaining an activation code and entering the activation code in an e-token or e-token reader. Upon entering the activation code in the e-token or reader, the e-token or an e-token mounted in the reader may become activated and may be used in game-play.

At step 403, the player may combine the game pieces either by pressing them together or placing them in close proximity, by placing one or more game pieces on a token reader, by activating a button on a game-piece or a token reader, or by leaving game-piece(s) on a token reader for a period of time. The player may be limited to making a single combination of game-pieces before proceeding to step 404. Alternatively, the player may make multiple combinations of game-pieces before proceeding to step 404. In embodiments in which the player may make multiple combinations of game-pieces, each of the combinations may be considered to be a separate wager when the user proceeds to step 404. The combinations of game-pieces may include single game-pieces, combinations of two game-pieces, or combinations of greater numbers of game-pieces. In some embodiments of game-play 400, a game-piece may be used in only a single combination (e.g., game piece “A” can either be used in combination with game piece “B” or in combination with game piece “C”). Alternatively in other embodiments, a game-piece may be used in multiple combinations (e.g., game piece “A” may be used in combination with game piece “B”, in combination with game piece “C”, and/or in combination with game pieces “B” and “C”).

The determination of whether game-pieces or combinations of game-pieces are winning combinations at step 404 may occur immediately following the player making a combination of game-pieces, upon player command (e.g., upon the player activating a button on a game-piece or token reader), at a recurring date and time (e.g., next Wednesday at noon), at a specified date and time (e.g., at noon on May 1, 2007), or after a delay (e.g., in twenty-four hours).

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4, if a game-piece is a winning game-piece, play ends (step 405). In such embodiments, once a game-piece is a winner, or once a game-piece is part of a winning combination, the game-piece may become de-activated. In other embodiments, however, winning game-pieces may be used in making further combinations at step 407. In an alternative embodiment to that shown in FIG. 4, non-winning game-pieces may become de-activated. In such an alternative embodiment, only winning game-pieces may be used in making further combinations at step 407. In the alternative embodiment, players may thus be able to gamble their winning game-pieces at step 407 in order to try and obtain greater winnings.

FIG. 5 shows an illustrative multi-player game-play 500 in accordance with the principles of the invention. In game-play 500, multiple players may cooperate or play together in a joint pool using their game-pieces. Players may choose to play together in order to increase their individual chances of winning and/or to increase the joint pool's chances of winning. Game-play 500 may, in particular, allow players to take part in lottery pools in which multiple players share the cost of and winnings from jointly purchased lottery tickets. Each player in a pool may, for example, purchase a game-piece and be entitled to a portion of the winnings of any of the players in the pool in exchange for the promise to share any personal winnings with other players in the pool. Game-play 500 may additionally provide players taking part in lottery pools with added winning opportunities such as the ability to win both individual prizes (e.g., prizes won by their individual game-piece) as well as group (shared) prizes (e.g., prizes won by the combination of game-pieces of group members). Game-play 500 may also provide players with added functionalities such as using the same game-piece that is used in the joint group lottery for playing in individual lotteries.

Game-play 500 includes many similarities with game-play 400. Similar steps in game-plays 400 and 500 are numbered correspondingly and may operate or be modified in ways similar to those described in relation with FIGS. 4 and 5.

In game-play 500, multiple players P1 and P2 may decide to play a particular game at step 501. At step 502, each player may acquire a game-piece or token. The players may combine their game-pieces at step 503. The combining of the game-pieces may serve as an indication that the players are wagering the combined game-pieces in the game. At step 504, a random drawing determines whether one, both, and/or the combination of game-pieces is a winner. If one or more of the game-pieces is a winner, the winning game-piece(s) may inform their respective player(s) that the player(s) has (have) won a prize at step 505 by changing state. If the combination of game-pieces is a winner, all of the game-pieces of the winning combination may change state. Alternatively, if no game-piece or no combination of game-pieces is a winner, game play may end at step 506. However, if a player acquires an additional game-piece, or if an additional player joins the game with an additional game-piece at step 506, the players may create a new combination of game-pieces including the additional game-piece at step 507 and game-play may proceed with a new random drawing at step 504.

In addition to providing new games of chance, and new methods to take part in games of chance, the present invention allows game administrator to vary the odds of winning of players. The following paragraphs describe a few illustrative examples of ways in which the odds of winning may be varied using e-tokens in accordance with the invention.

Scenario 1 (regular lottery): Each game-piece is sold for $2 and has a one-is-a-million (1/1,000,000) chance of winning a million dollars ($1M).

Scenario 2 (regular lottery+combinations of game-pieces act as additional wagers): Each game-piece is sold for $2 and has a one-in-a-million (1/1,000,000) chance of winning a million dollars ($1M). In addition, each combination of two game-pieces has an additional one-in-two million (1/2,000,000) chance of winning a million dollars. Game pieces can only be used once and in a single combination of two game-pieces.

Scenario 3 (odds of winning vary if token used in more than a single combination): each game-piece is sold for $2 and has a one-in-a-million (1/1,000,000) chance of winning a million dollars ($1M). If used in a combination of “n” game-pieces, the game-piece has a one-in-two-million (1/2,000,000) chance of winning a million dollars ($1M), and the combination of “n” game-pieces has an additional one-in-two-million (1/2,000,000) chance of winning two million dollars ($2M).

Scenario 4 (scheduled drawings, prize size varies with combination): each game-piece is sold for $2 and has a one-in-a-million (1/1,000,000) chance of winning a million dollars ($1M) in the next weekly drawing. However, if a game-piece is used in combination with a game-piece that was used in the previous week's drawing, the combination of game-pieces has a one-in-a-million (1/1,000,000) chance of winning one and a half million dollars ($1.5M). Similarly, if the game-piece is used in combination with both a game-piece that was used in the previous week's drawing (week n−1) and a game-piece that was used in the drawing two weeks prior (week n−2), the combination of game-pieces has a one-in-a-million (1/1,000,000) chance of winning one and three-quarters million dollars ($1.75M).

Scenario 5 (odds of winning dynamically adjusted): game-pieces are wirelessly connected through a network such as a cellular phone network. The odds of a token winning vary dynamically. For example, the odds of a token winning may vary inversely proportionally with a stock quote index (e.g., the odds of winning may increase if the S&P 500 decreases). A player may choose to play the game-piece at any time. The odds of the token being a winner are determined based on the precise time at which the token was played. When a player activates a button on the game-piece, the game-piece connects to the wireless network, determines if the game-piece is a winner, and informs the player whether the player has won a prize.

Other scenarios, and various combinations of the scenarios described herein, are also considered. For example, game-pieces may be used in a specified number of drawings (e.g., five drawings), in a specified number of consecutive drawings (e.g., five consecutive drawings), or for a specified period of time (e.g., one month). The value of prizes, or the odds of winning a prize, may diminish (or otherwise vary) with the number of times (or the number of combinations in which) a game-piece has been used. Smaller prizes may also be awarded during the course of play. Smaller prizes may include, for example, the ability to re-use or re-activate tokens for use in further drawings. In one example, a game administrator may choose to make every combination of five game-pieces automatically win a new game-piece in order to encourage players to regularly purchase game-pieces.

In a potential variant to the games described herein, each game-piece may have the capacity to remember the other game-pieces with which it has been played, and the game outcome may be altered depending on the previous plays of each game-piece. In another variant, the game-pieces may not “remember” which other game-pieces they have been played with, but they may alter their state in some way reflecting those previous plays. All the games described herein may also have variable prizes based on the information contained in the game-pieces played by the user.

The communication capabilities of the e-tokens may be used by administrators of games using the e-tokens to monitor the activity of the tokens, to monitor prize winnings, to activate/deactivate tokens, and to communicate with game players. The communication capabilities may also enable game administrators to monitor security features of e-tokens to ensure that e-tokens have not been tampered with. The communication of game administrators with e-tokens may be done through wired or wireless networks. Tokens or token readers may be networked to enable such monitoring. Token readers located at retail locations where e-tokens are sold may also be used to monitor sales of tokens, to reprogram tokens, to activate tokens that are sold, or to verify the integrity of winning tokens to ensure they have not been tampered with.

The functionality provided by e-tokens and game pieces in accordance with the principles of the invention may be advantageous for players by providing game players with additional play opportunities, additional prize winning opportunities, and greater involvement and participation in games of chance. In particular e-tokens may allow players to decide, in real-time, when and how to engage in lotteries with variable odds and variable winning opportunities. E-tokens may further allow players to engage in multi-player lottery games.

For game administrators, e-tokens provide convenient means for monitoring lotteries in real-time, and for providing new or additional prizes to players. Such new prizes may be awarded to repeat players (e.g., players who engage in the lottery every week), to players who make high wagers (e.g., players who combine large number of e-tokens together), or to other groups of players that game administrators want to encourage and provide additional winning opportunities to. For example, e-tokens may be used in certain types of customer-retention programs such as those implemented by large retailers and stores to encourage customers to make repeated visits to the corporation's stores (e.g., McDonald's Monopoly game). In one embodiment the game-pieces may be tailored to be used by the likes of McDonald's and given away with a meal to encourage customers to patronize that chain more frequently.

System and methods are provided for allowing variable odds gambling using selectable combinations of gaming devices. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention can be practiced by other than the described embodiments, which are presented for purposes of illustration and not of limitation. The invention is limited only by the claims which follow.