Title:
SELECTIVE RESET FOR GAMING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming device offers the illusion of control to a player by selectively offering the player the opportunity to request that the gaming device reset itself. Criteria may be imposed about which players may make the request and how frequently a player may make such requests. Techniques for making the reset request vary by embodiment. Once the gaming device receives the request, the gaming device may, depending on embodiment, undergo a number of different reset processes that fall along a continuum from merely informing the player that the gaming device has been reset (e.g., a faux-reset) to a full operating system reboot with or without power interruption to components of the gaming device. In at least one embodiment, any credit balance associated with the player is preserved through the reset procedure.



Inventors:
Walker, Jay S. (Ridgefield, CT, US)
Jorasch, James A. (New York, NY, US)
Hayashida, Jeffrey Y. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Tedesco, Daniel E. (Huntington, CT, US)
Sammon, Russell P. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Tedesco, Robert C. (Farirfield, CT, US)
Tulley, Stephen C. (Monroe, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/577915
Publication Date:
05/28/2009
Filing Date:
08/10/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/29, 463/20
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIDDLE, JAY TRENT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WALKER DIGITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC (2 HIGH RIDGE PARK, STAMFORD, CT, 06905, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: conducting game play at a gaming device; receiving a request to reset the gaming device; presenting a reset indication through the gaming device; preserving a credit balance during presentation of the reset indication; and resuming game play at the gaming device.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein presenting the reset indication comprises presenting an indication selected from a group consisting of: turning off a fan, blanking a display, turning off a light, presenting a reset image on a display, presenting a reset video on a display, turning off a cash acceptor, turning off a coin hopper, turning off a speaker, turning off multiple components, refreshing a display, playing an audible signal, ringing a bell, deactivating one or more output devices, deactivating one or more input devices, and illuminating a light

3. The method of claim 1 wherein presenting the reset indication comprises informing a player that a reset has been performed.

4. The method of claim 2 further comprising performing a reset by operation of an activity selected from a group consisting of: flushing virtual memory of the gaming device, re-seeding a random number generator, flushing virtual memory of a slot server, and deleting cookies.

5. The method of claim 1 further comprising, upon receiving the request to reset the gaming device, evaluating whether a player associated with the gaming device is eligible to reset the gaming device.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises considering data stored in a player-tracking database.

7. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if the player has received a reset symbol in game play.

8. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if the player has received a predetermined number of losing outcomes.

9. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if the player has received a predetermined number of consecutive non-winning outcomes.

10. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises comparing the credit balance of the player to a predetermined threshold.

11. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if the player has initiated a predetermined number of game starts.

12. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if the player has played at the gaming device a predetermined amount of time.

13. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if a rate of play associated with the player exceeds a predetermined threshold.

14. The method of claim 5 wherein evaluating whether the player is eligible comprises determining if the credit balance of the player has fallen more than a predetermined threshold.

15. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving a request to reset the gaming device comprises receiving a request at a controller positioned remotely from the gaming device.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising generating a signal at the controller and sending the signal from the controller to the gaming device.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising receiving the signal at the gaming device and, in response to the signal, presenting the reset indication.

18. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving the request to reset the gaming device comprises receiving a request from a player.

19. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving the request to reset the gaming device comprises receiving a request from gaming establishment personnel.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein receiving the request from gaming establishment personnel further comprises receiving the request from gaming establishment personnel in response to an initial request to reset the gaming device from the player.

21. The method of claim 1 wherein conducting game play at the gaming device comprises conducting game play at a gaming device selected from a group consisting of: a slot machine, a video slot machine, a pachinko machine, a video pachinko machine, a video blackjack machine, a video poker machine, a video keno machine, a video pai gow machine, and a video lottery terminal.

22. The method of claim 1 further comprising rebooting the gaming device.

23. The method of claim 1 further comprising reseeding a random number generator associated with the gaming device.

24. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving the request to reset the gaming device comprises having a switch turned.

25. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving the request to reset the gaming device comprises having a button pushed.

26. The method of claim 1 further comprising selectively actuating a reset mechanism for a player.

27. The method of claim 1 further comprising confirming the request to reset the gaming device.

28. The method of claim 1 wherein preserving the credit balance comprises storing the credit balance at a remote location.

29. The method of claim 28 wherein storing the credit balance at the remote location comprises storing the credit balance at a remote server.

30. The method of claim 28 wherein storing the credit balance at the remote location comprises storing the credit balance on a mobile terminal.

31. The method of claim 28 wherein storing the credit balance at the remote location comprises storing the credit balance on a dongle.

32. The method of claim 28 wherein preserving the credit balance comprises continuously displaying the credit balance on a credit meter during presentation of the reset indication.

33. The method of claim 1 further comprising informing a player that a reset option is available.

34. The method of claim 33 wherein informing the player that the reset option is available comprises audibly informing the player.

35. The method of claim 33 wherein informing the player that the reset option is available comprises visually informing the player.

36. The method of claim 1 further comprising providing entertainment content concurrently with presenting the reset indication through the gaming device.

37. The method of claim 1 wherein presenting the reset indication through the gaming device comprises presenting reset indications on a plurality of gaming devices.

38. The method of claim 1 wherein preserving the credit balance during presentation of the reset indication comprises: printing the credit balance on a voucher; providing the voucher to the player; accepting the voucher from the player after presentation of the reset indication; restoring the credit balance based on the credit balance printed on the voucher; and restricting use of the voucher to the gaming device with which the credit balance was associated.

39. The method of claim 1 further comprising awarding the player a number of resets as a function of an eligibility criterion.

40. The method of claim 39 wherein awarding the player the number of resets as the function of the eligibility criterion comprises awarding the player more resets the more the player exceeds the eligibility criterion.

41. The method of claim 1 wherein preserving the credit balance during presentation of the reset indication comprises outputting an element associated with the credit balance.

42. The method of claim 41 wherein outputting an element comprises outputting an electronic voucher.

43. The method of claim 41 wherein outputting the element comprises storing the credit balance on external media.

44. The method of claim 43 wherein storing the credit balance on external media comprises storing the credit balance on an element selected from a group consisting of: a dongle, flash memory, a printed receipt, mobile terminal memory, a smart card, and an RFID transponder.

45. The method of claim 1 further comprising selling a reset option to a player such that the player may request the reset using the reset option.

46. The method of claim 45 wherein selling the reset option comprises selling the reset option as part of a package.

47. The method of claim 1 wherein presenting the reset indication comprises reversing imagery associated with a previous outcome on the gaming device.

48. The method of claim 1 further comprising offering the player a choice between redoing a previous wager and resetting the gaming device.

49. A system comprising: a network interface; and a controller operatively associated with the network interface, said controller adapted to: receive from the network interface a request to reset a remotely positioned gaming device; send a signal through the network interface to the remotely positioned gaming device such that that remotely positioned gaming device presents. a reset indication; and preserve a credit balance while the remotely positioned gaming device presents a reset indication

50. The system of claim 49 wherein the controller comprises a slot server in a gaming establishment.

51. The system of claim 49 wherein the controller comprises a website server and the remotely positioned gaming device comprises a computer.

52. The system of claim 49 wherein the controller comprises a mobile terminal server and the remotely positioned gaming device comprises a mobile terminal.

53. A method comprising: monitoring game play on a gaming device; detecting one or more qualifying criteria; and presenting a deterioration indication to a player.

54. The method of claim 53 wherein presenting the deterioration indication comprises presenting an indication selected from a group consisting of: slowing card dealing, presenting worn card images, adding distortion to audible signals presented to the player, desynchronize an audible signal from a visible signal, changing brightness on a display, changing contrast on a display, changing color balance on a display, change a resiliency of a button input, dim lights, flicker lights, slow play, generate a vibration in the gaming device, emitting a scent, and cooling an element on a user interface.

55. The method of claim 53 further comprising presenting a reset request option to the player.

56. The method of claim 53 further comprising receiving a reset request from the player.

57. The method of claim 53 further comprising presenting a reset indication to the player.

58. The method of claim 57 further comprising after presenting the reset indication to the player discontinuing presentation of the deterioration indication.

59. The method of claim 53 wherein monitoring game play comprises remotely monitoring game play with a controller.

60. The method of claim 53 wherein monitoring game play on the gaming device comprises monitoring game play on a gaming device selected from a group consisting of: a slot machine, a video slot machine, a pachinko machine, a video pachinko machine, a video blackjack machine, a video poker machine, a video keno machine, a video pai gow machine, and a video lottery terminal.

61. The method of claim 53 further comprising evaluating whether a player associated with the gaming device is eligible to reset the gaming device.

62. The method of claim 61 wherein presenting a deterioration indication to the player occurs only if the player is eligible to reset the gaming device.

63. The method of claim 53 wherein detecting one or more qualifying criteria comprises detecting a plurality of consecutive losses.

64. The method of claim 63 further comprising scaling a degree of deterioration indication based on a quantity of the plurality of consecutive losses.

65. The method of claim 53 wherein detecting one or more qualifying criteria comprises detecting whether a winning outcome exceeded a certain threshold.

66. A method comprising: conducting game play on a gaming device; and determining if a player is eligible to request a reset sequence for the gaming device.

67. The method of claim 66 further comprising allowing the player to request the reset sequence.

68. The method of claim 66 further comprising presenting a reset indication through the gaming device.

69. The method of claim 66 wherein determining if the player is eligible to request the reset sequence comprises evaluating player behavior.

70. The method of claim 69 wherein evaluating player behavior comprises evaluating behavior selected from a group consisting of agitation, rate of play, coin-in, cumulative wagers made, body temperature, heart rate, and player-tracking club membership status.

71. The method of claim 66 wherein determining if the player is eligible to request the reset sequence comprises determining the player has sustained a predetermined number of losing outcomes.

72. The method of claim 66 wherein determining if the player is eligible to request the reset sequence comprises evaluating an external factor.

73. The method of claim 66 wherein evaluating the external factor comprises evaluating an external factor selected from a group consisting of: time of day, day of week, utilization levels of gaming devices within a gaming establishment, weather, contemporaneous sporting event information, game play on a second gaming device, gaming establishment occupancy rates, and location of the gaming device within a gaming establishment.

74. The method of claim 66 further comprising informing the player that the player is eligible to request the reset sequence.

75. A method comprising: receiving a request to reset a gaming device; and informing a player of the gaming device that the gaming device is being reset while not actually resetting the gaming device.

76. The method of claim 75 further comprising mimicking reset activities in response to the request.

77. The method of claim 76 wherein mimicking reset activities comprises performing a function selected from a group consisting of: turning off a fan, blanking a display, turning off a light, turning off a cash acceptor, turning off a coin hopper, turning off a speaker, refreshing a display, playing an audible signal, ringing a bell, and illuminating a light.

78. A method comprising: conducting game play at a gaming device; monitoring the game play; and automatically entering a reset sequence if the game play meets a predetermined requirement.

79. The method of claim 78 wherein automatically entering the reset sequence if the game play meets a predetermined requirement comprises automatically entering the reset sequence if the game play reflects a predetermined number of non-winning outcomes.

80. The method of claim 78 further comprising informing a player of an impending automatic reset sequence.

81. The method of claim 78 further comprising determining ff a player has set a preference relating to the reset sequence.

82. The method of claim 78 wherein automatically entering the reset sequence occurs only if the player has set a preference requesting the reset sequence.

83. A method comprising: conducting game play associated with a first pay table at a gaming device; presenting a reset indication to a player of the gaming device; and conducting game play associated with a second pay table at the gaming device after presentation of the reset indication.

84. The method of claim 83 wherein conducting game play associated with the second pay table comprises conducting game play with a second pay table comprising more winning outcomes than the first pay table.

85. The method of claim 83 wherein conducting game play associated with the second pay table comprises conducting game play with a second pay table comprising a larger jackpot outcome than the first pay table.

86. A gaming device comprising: a user interface; and a controller operatively associated with the user interface and adapted to: conduct game play at the gaming device; receive a request to reset the gaming device; present a reset indication through the gaming device; and resume game play at the gaming device.

87. A computer readable medium comprising software with instructions adapted to: conduct game play at a gaming device; receive a request to reset the gaming device; present a reset indication through the gaming device; and resume game play at the gaming device.

88. A gaming device comprising: a user interface; and a controller operatively associated with the user interface and adapted to: monitor game play on the gaming device; detect one or more losing outcomes; and present a deterioration indication to a player.

89. A computer readable medium comprising software with instructions adapted to: monitor game play on a gaming device; detect one or more losing outcomes; and present a deterioration indication to a player.

90. A gaming device comprising: a user interface; and a controller operatively associated with the user interface and adapted to: conduct game play on the gaming device; and determine if a player is eligible to request a reset sequence for the gaming device.

91. A computer readable medium comprising software with instructions adapted to: conduct game play on a gaming device; and determine if a player is eligible to request a reset sequence for the gaming device.

92. A gaming device comprising: a user interface; and a controller operatively associated with the user interface and adapted to: conduct game play associated with a first pay table at the gaming device; present a reset indication to a player of the gaming device; and conduct game play associated with a second pay table at the gaming device after presentation of the reset indication.

93. A computer readable medium comprising software with Instructions adapted to: conduct game play associated with a first pay table at a gaming device; present a reset indication to a player of the gaming device; and conduct game play associated with a second pay table at the gaming device after presentation of the reset indication.

94. A method comprising: receiving a request to reset a gaming device; and informing a player of the gaming device that the gaming device is being reset while maintaining operation of a controller of the gaming device.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to gaming devices and to giving players the illusion of control over gaming devices.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary gaming device suitable for use with some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a block diagram of an exemplary gaming device suitable for use with some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a mobile terminal usable as a gaming device according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a network of gaming devices with a controller according to some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a flow chart of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a flow chart of an exemplary embodiment for resetting a gaming device;

FIG. 7 illustrates a flow chart of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary player-tracking database such as may be used with some embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 9 illustrates a flow chart of a server-based embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary screen shot of an exemplary embodiment of a screen informing a player of reset eligibility; and

FIG. 11 illustrates an exemplary screen shot of an exemplary embodiment of an exemplary reset indication.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Gaming devices such as slot machines provide a relatively high percentage of revenue generated by gaming establishments in the United States. As gaming devices are statistically designed to take in more money than they pay out, it is not unexpected that some players may experience a string of losing outcomes. Such players may feel that the gaming device has gone cold, and switch to another machine or, perhaps worse from the gaming establishment point of view, may cease gambling at that gaming establishment. Revenue is consequently lost A similar situation may exist for players after a large win. That is, despite the fact that, for almost all normally regulated gaming devices, spin outcomes are mutually independent, many players believe that a gaming device that has just paid a large prize is unlikely to award another large prize soon thereafter. In reality, the gaming device is no more unlikely to award a large prize right after a large prize as the gaming device was to award a large prize right after a losing outcome. However, as a result of this belief, many players will switch machines after a winning a large prize feeling that they have exhausted the luck of the first device.

Embodiments of the present invention allow players to indicate that they would like to reset a gaming device. Resetting the gaming device, or giving the appearance of resetting the gaming device, may convince the player that the machine has been purged of any bad luck and encourage the player to continue playing at the gaming device. Likewise, resetting a gaming device after a large prize is awarded may convince the player that the luck, which was exhausted in securing the large prize, has been restored such that the player continues playing on the same gaming device. In some embodiments, the player must first be eligible to reset the gaming device. Eligibility criteria may include a number of consecutive non-winning outcomes, membership level in a player-tracking program, or other criterion as needed or desired. In other, non-exclusive embodiments, the nature of the reset may be varied. In a first embodiment, the gaming device undergoes a full reboot of its operating system. In a second embodiment, the gaming device merely reseeds its random number generating algorithm. In a third embodiment, the gaming device presents reset indicia without changing its operating state.

Another aspect of the present invention is in presenting stimuli to players representing the state of the gaming device with respect to whether the gaming device is “going cold” or has gone “cold”. The stimuli may be audible, visual, olfactory, or tactile. For example, as losing outcomes accumulate, the video display may dim or the sound track may introduce pop and crack sounds to demonstrate that the machine is going cold and may “need” to be reset

Before addressing the particularly contemplated embodiments of the present invention, an overview of exemplary gaming devices and a gaming establishment server on which embodiments of the present invention may be implemented are provided. The discussion of the particularly contemplated details of the embodiments begins below with reference to FIG. 5.

FIG. 1 illustrates a front elevational view of a gaming device, which is, as illustrated, a three-reel slot machine 10 that may be used in accordance with some embodiments. The slot machine 10 includes a housing that delimits a display area 12 in which an outcome for a game of the slot machine 10 is displayed to the player on payline 14. The display area 12 may, for example, be a video display that displays simulations of reels. The display area 12 may, in another example, be glass behind which are located mechanical reels. While the representation in FIG. 1 is exemplary, other slot machines may have multiple paylines or alternate means of outputting an indication of the outcome and still fall within the scope of the present invention.

Slot machine 10 further includes a handle 16. A player may initiate the movement of the reels in display area 12 by pulling on the handle 16. Alternatively, a player may initiate the movement of the reels in display area 12 by actuating the start button 18.

Slot machine 10 also includes a player-tracking mechanism, such as an identification card reader 20 into which a player may insert a player-tracking card. While illustrated as a magnetic card reader, it should be appreciated that the card reader 20 could be a smart card reader, a bar code reader, a dongle port, or other mechanism such as a wireless interrogator that interrogates a radio frequency identification (RFID) device such as a transponder positioned in a key chain fob or the like. The player-tracking mechanism may also include a display 22 (e.g., an LCD, LED display) for outputting information related to the player identifier (e.g., player's name and number of comp points associated with player's account) or other information as needed or desired.

Another dynamic display area 24 may output information to a player. The display area 24 may be utilized, for example, to inform a player that she is a winner, she has qualified for a bonus round, or other information as needed or desired. The display area 24 may be a LCD, LED, CRT or other display mechanism as needed or desired.

The slot machine 10 may further include a payment system 26, which includes a bill acceptor 28, a coin acceptor (not shown), and/or a magnetic card reader 30. Alternatively, a smart card reader, a cashless gaming receipt acceptor, or wireless interrogator may be used if needed or desired. Players may utilize payment system 26 to establish equity in the slot machine 10 and fund wagers as is well understood. When the player provides funds, the amount appears on a credit meter 32. In an exemplary embodiment, each credit is equal to a unit of wager. More details on units of wager, coins, and credits are set forth in the Rules of Interpretation below. The credit meter 32 reflects the amount of electronic credits currently available to a player for any purpose. A player, for example, may use the electronic credits as wagers for games played on the gaming device. The electronic credits may also be “cashed out” as coins, bills, tokens, a cashless gaming receipt, and/or credits to another financial account associated with the player. When the player cashes out in the form of a cashless gaming receipt, the cash value of the credits may be set forth rather than a number of credits as is well understood.

The slot machine 10 includes yet another display area 34, which displays a payout schedule of the slot machine 10. The payout schedule displays payouts that correspond to various outcomes obtainable on the slot machine 10. In one or more embodiments, if an outcome on the payline 14 corresponds to a payout as indicated in the display area 34, the credit meter 32 may increase the balance displayed by an amount of electronic credits corresponding to the payout.

The slot machine 10 further includes a hopper or coin tray 36. Payment to the player may be rendered by dispensing coins into the coin tray 36. Such coins may be dispensed based on, for example, a player's indication that the player would like to cash out his credit meter balance and/or a payout obtained by a player as a result of playing a game on the slot machine 10. Note that slot machine 10 may include different and/or additional components besides those illustrated. For example, in place of, or in addition to coin tray 36, payouts may be provided to the player through a cashless receipt, a direct deposit to a player's bank account, a credit in the player database, or the like.

A more generic gaming device 40 is illustrated in FIG. 2. In particular, the gaming device 40 includes one or more input devices 42 (such as the handle 16 or start button 18 of FIG. 1), one or more display devices 44 (such as displays 12, 22, 32, and/or 34 of FIG. 1), a payment system 46 (such as payment system 26 of FIG. 1), a player-tracking mechanism 48 (such as card reader 20 of FIG. 1), a benefit output device 50 (such as the coin tray 36 of FIG. 1), a processor 52 associated with memory 54 having software programs 56 stored therein, a random number generator 58, and/or a communication port 60. The elements of the gaming device 40 may communicate over a wirebased bus (not shown explicitly) or wirelessly as needed or desired. Collectively, the input device 42, the display device 44, the payment system 46, the player-tracking mechanism 48, and the benefit output device 50 may be referred to as a user interface, although not all elements are required for a user interface according to embodiments of the present invention. The processor 52 may also be referred to as a controller.

The user interface may include a graphical interface through which the player operates different aspects of the gaming device 40. For example, a display device 44 may be a touch screen that includes menus and active buttons from which a player may select various options relating to her gaming experience. One such option may be supplemental audio played through speakers on the gaming device 40. The display device 44 displays a menu from which the player may select such supplemental audio. Such menus may be WINDOWS® style drop down menus that appear when a player touches a particular portion of the touch screen, selectively enabled through the actions of the player, or otherwise made available as needed or desired. Once the menu appears, the touch screen may make the menu active such that a player may make a selection from the menu by touching the area of the screen on which the option appears. While a WINDOWS® style menu option is possible, other presentations are also possible. Instead of audio, video could also be selected through such menus and then presented on one or more of the display devices 44 of the gaming device 40. As is readily understood, such a touch screen may require a touch screen controller with the menus stored in appropriate memory devices (e.g., memory 54) associated with the gaming device 40. Likewise, the content that is selected from such menus must be available either locally or remotely so that the gaming device 40 may present such content. In some embodiments, the display of such menus may preempt the display of other information. For example, in one embodiment, the menus may appear on a display 34 and, when the menus are active, the paytable illustrated in FIG. 1 may be obscured by the menus. Other arrangements are also within the scope of the present invention.

The gaming device 40 may be any appropriate gaming device such as a slot machine, video slot machine, video poker terminal, video blackjack terminal, video roulette terminal, video keno terminal, video lottery terminal, pachinko terminal, video pachinko terminal, or the like and is embodied in a housing as is well understood.

The processor 52 may be any suitable microprocessor such as an Intel® Pentium® processor or the like and may be positioned within the housing of the gaming device 40. Memory 54 may be ROM, RAM, or any other suitable computer memory device as needed or desired. Likewise, while software programs 56 are contemplated as being one way to implement embodiments of the present invention, hardwired circuitry could replace the software if needed or desired. The software programs 56 include instructions for making the processor 52 operate according to embodiments of the present invention. The software programs 56 may be stored in a compressed, uncompiled, and/or encrypted format The software programs may include program elements that are necessary for operation of the processor such as an operating system, a database management system, device drivers, and the like. The software programs may be uploaded into the memory 54 through any appropriate mechanism such as installation from a floppy, CD, or DVD drive, downloaded from a network through communication port 60, or other mechanism as is well understood. While not explicitly illustrated, memory 54 may store a probability database and/or a payout database. The book “Winning At Slot Machines” by Jim Regan (Carol Publishing Group Edition, 1997) illustrates examples of payout and probability tables and how they may be derived. The entirety of this book is incorporated by reference herein.

The random number generator 58 (as well as any other random number generator described herein), in accordance with at least one embodiment, may generate data representing random or pseudo-random values (referred to as “random numbers” herein). The random number generator 58 may generate a random number every predetermined unit of time (e.g., every second) or in response to an initiation of a game on the gaming device 40. In the former embodiment, the generated random numbers may be used as they are generated (e.g., the random number generated at substantially the time of game initiation is used for that game) and/or stored for future use in the memory 54.

The random number generator 58, as used herein, may be embodied as a processor separate from but working in cooperation with processor 52. Alternatively, the random number generator 58 may be embodied as an algorithm, program component, or software program 56 stored in the memory 54 or other device and used to generate a random number.

Note that, although the generation or obtainment of a random number is described herein as involving the random number generator 58, other methods of determining a random number may be employed. For example, a gaming device owner or operator may obtain sets of random numbers that have been generated by another entity. HotBits™, for example, is a service that provides random numbers that have been generated by timing successive pairs of radioactive decays detected by a Geiger-Muller tube interfaced to a computer. A blower mechanism that uses physical balls with numbers thereon may be used to determine a random number by randomly selecting one of the balls and determining the number thereof.

The communication port 60 may connect the gaming device 40 to a communication network 64 (illustrated in FIGS. 3 & 4) through any appropriate communication medium and protocol. An exemplary communication port 60 is an Ethernet port that connects the gaming device 40 to an internet protocol (IP) network.

While not illustrated, some of the components of the gaming device 40 may be embodied as a peripheral device that is operatively associated with the gaming device 40. Such peripheral devices may be mounted on or positioned proximate to the housing of the gaming device 40 as needed or desired. Such peripheral devices may be particularly useful in retrofitting functionality into the gaming device 40.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, the gaming device 40 may be a mobile terminal 62 such as a cellular telephone, a personal digital assistant (such as a PALM® or BLACKBERRY™ device), a two way pager, a portable computer, a personal computer, a personal gaming device (such as the NINTENDO® GAMEBOY™), or the like as needed or desired. The mobile terminal 62 may be a device dedicated to gambling or a multipurpose device such as a cellular phone on which games may be played as needed or desired. The mobile terminal 62 may be equipped with a user interface (keypad, display, etc.) that allows operation of a web browser (e.g., FIREFOX, MOZILLA, NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR, INTERNET EXPLORER, etc.) to interoperate with an online casino or the game may be stored locally. As yet another option, the mobile terminal 62 may instead communicate with a gaming establishment network 64 through a cellular microstation 66, and through the network 64 to a gaming establishment device 68. Alternate protocols and communication techniques could also be used such as BLUETOOTH or the like. In an alternate embodiment, the mobile terminal 62 may communicate directly with the gaming establishment device 68, such as through the communication port 60. While wireless connections are shown, it should be appreciated that the mobile terminal 62 may dock with a communication port or be connected thereto through a wire or the like if needed or desired. The gaming establishment device 68 may be a gaming device 40, a peripheral device, a dedicated interface device, or the like as needed or desired.

While it is particularly contemplated that the controller (not shown) of the mobile terminal 62 may control the mobile terminal 62, in an alternate embodiment, the processor 52 of the gaming establishment device 68 may control the mobile terminal 62. The gaming establishment device 68 may be a gaming device 40, a controller 72 (see FIG. 4), or some other device as needed or desired.

In the event that the gaming device 40 is a personal computer, the personal computer may communicate with an online casino and facilitate game play at the online casino through a modem and the internet. Other arrangements are within the scope of the present invention.

An exemplary system 70 that is suitable for use in a gaming establishment such as a casino is illustrated in FIG. 4. In particular, system 70 shows how the gaming devices 40A, 40B, 40C . . . 40N (collectively gaming devices 40) and/or the mobile terminal 62 may be interconnected with a controller 72 through a network 64, which in an exemplary embodiment is a local area network (LAN). The network 64 may be wired or wireless as needed or desired using any appropriate protocol, although encryption may be used to protect proprietary information.

The controller 72 may perform some of the functionality previously attributed to the gaming device 40. That is, the controller 72 may act as a server and the gaming devices 40 act as client devices. The controller 72 may be a computer connected to the network 64 through a communication port 74 and operated by a processor 76. The processor 76 may interoperate with memory 78 having programs 80, a player database 82 and other databases 84 stored therein, including, but not limited to: a prize package database 130 (FIG. 6) or a prize package tracking database 170 (FIG. 8). The memory 78 may store additional databases, including, but not limited to: a game database that stores information regarding one or more games playable on and/or downloadable to one or gaming devices 40, and a scheduling and/or configuration database useful for determining which games are to be made available on which gaming devices 40 at what times. In other embodiments, some or all of these functions may be handled by a device distinct from the controller 72.

As noted elsewhere, the programs 80 may include an operating system, device drivers, and other conventional software to facilitate operation of the controller 72. While contemplated as being software, the programs 80 could instead be implemented through hardwired circuitry or a combination of the two. In place of the payout and probability databases being present in the gaming devices 40, such databases and/or data may Instead be stored in the databases 84 of the memory 78. Likewise, the databases may be distributed and/or duplicated between various devices within the system 70.

The programs 80 may allow the controller 72 to track gambling, gaming or other activity performed at the gaming device 40, track gaming or other activities of individual players, instruct a gaming device to perform one or more functions (e.g., output a message to a player, interrupt play, or the like), assign or otherwise determine a unique identifier for a player, and/or control access to stored funds and/or a credit line. In some embodiments the controller 72 may be operable to configure a gaming device 40 remotely, update software stored on a gaming device 40, and/or download software or software components to a gaming device 40. For example, the controller 72 may be operable to apply a hot fix to software stored on a gaming device 40, modify a payout and/or probability table stored on a gaming device 40, and/or transmit a new version of software and/or a software component to a gaming device. The controller 72 may be programmed to perform any or all of the functions described herein based on, for example, an occurrence of an event (e.g., a scheduled event), receiving an indication from authorized gaming establishment personnel, an authorized third party (e.g., a regulator) and/or receiving a request from a player. In other embodiments, some or all of these functions may be handled by a device distinct from the controller 72.

While the previous paragraph describes the controller 72 configuring the gaming device 40, it is also possible that the controller 72 stores games thereon, and these games are requested from the gaming device 40. The gaming device 40 may be programmed to check periodically if updates are available, and, if an update is available, download and install the update. Alternatively, the gaming device 40 may check on occurrence of an event, an indication from authorized gaming establishment personnel, an indication from an authorized third party, or the like. It is particularly contemplated that the gaming device 40 may be a thin client controlled by the server, although such is not required for operation of the present invention.

For more information about gaming devices 40, controllers 72 and other hardware and software components and their interoperation suitable for use with embodiments of the present invention, the interested reader is referred to commonly owned PCT Application Ser. No. PCT/US05/043595, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Against this backdrop of hardware components, embodiments of the present invention are now presented. An exemplary method according to embodiments of the present invention is set forth with reference to FIG. 5. Initially, a player establishes equity with the gaming device 40 (block 100). The player may establish equity by inserting cash into the cash acceptor 28, inserting a credit, debit, or smart card into the card reader 30, using a cashless receipt, establishing an online equity account with an online casino, linking a phone bill (or other mobile terminal access account), or the like. The player may also insert a player-tracking card or otherwise indicate who they are to the controller (whether it be processor 52, controller 72, or other controller within a gaming establishment or online casino). Such identification may make tracking the player more readily effectuated.

The gaming establishment then conducts game play at the gaming device 40 (block 102). For example, if the gaming device 40 is a slot machine, then conducting game play includes allowing the player to make game starts (e.g., handle pulls) and providing outcomes thereto. If the gaming device 40 is a home computer, the online casino may conduct game play by sending information to the computer about game play (e.g., wagers received, cards dealt, reel outcomes, and the like as needed or desired). Other forms of conducting game play are also within the scope of the invention depending on the nature of the gaming device 40 on which the game play is occurring.

The controller (whether it be processor 52, controller 72, the controller of the mobile terminal 62 or the like) determines if the player is eligible for a gaming device reset (block 104). For the sake of this first example, the eligibility criterion is whether or not the player has received twenty outcomes with a total payout of less than three wagers (e.g., on a quarter slot machine, twenty spins with a payout of less than seventy-five cents). It should be noted that there are many other eligibility criteria that may be used as described further below. If the answer to the query at block 104 is no, the player is not eligible for a reset, then the process repeats. Determination of eligibility may be made by reference to a player-tracking database, reference to a counter, or other technique as needed or desired depending on the nature of the eligibility criterion.

If, however, the answer to the query at block 104 is yes, the player is eligible for a reset, the gaming device 40 informs the player of the reset option (block 106). Informing the player may be done through a visual message that appears on one or more of the display devices 44 of the gaming device 40 (see FIG. 10 which has a message presented on display 24), through an audible message that is played through a speaker, through gaming establishment personnel verbally informing the player, or the like as needed or desired. For visual indications, the indication may be on the display 24 as a textual message 230 with touch screen buttons 232 allowing a player response, as a pop-up message, or a previously grayed-out item on a menu may now become active. Other visual indications include, but are not limited to: a button which lights up when the reset is available (note that the button may have further “reset available” indicia disposed thereon), a light emitting diode (LED) meter displaying how close a player is to becoming eligible to initiate a reset sequence, or the like. If the gaming device 40 is a client based gaming device 40 (such as mobile terminal 62), then the indication may take the form of a prompt box asking the player if she would like to reset the server (which may be the gaming establishment device 68 hosting the mobile terminal 62, the controller 72, or the like). Exemplary audible indications include, but are not limited to speakers announcing the availability of a reset a bell ringing when a player qualifies to initiate a reset, a buzzer buzzing when the player qualifies to initiate a reset, or the like. Still other options for indications include, but are not limited to: a printer providing a receipt that, when inserted into a cashless gaming receipt acceptor will initiate a reset, the coin tray 36 dispensing a token that, when inserted into a gaming device 40 will initiate a reset, a device that emits a smell associated with the availability of the reset sequence, a device that changes temperature to indicate the availability of the reset sequence, or the like.

In an exemplary embodiment, substantially contemporaneously with the informing of the availability of the reset option, the gaming device 40 enables a reset mechanism. Note that in other embodiments, the enablement and the informing are not substantially contemporaneous. Enablement may include illuminating and accepting input from a button, creating a button on a touch screen (e.g., buttons 232 in FIG. 10), exposing a button from behind a glass window (e.g., a sliding door “locks” the player away from the reset button until the player is eligible to reset the gaming device 40, at which point the door slides open, exposing the button), a button that normally sits flush with the surface of the housing is extended, or the like as needed or desired. Such buttons may exist or otherwise be present before enablement, but in such instances, input therefrom is not used by the gaming device 40. Alternatively, the gaming device 40 may respond to a player invoking a reset option prior to enablement by displaying a message that says the reset function is not enabled or the like. Note that in some embodiments, the reset mechanism may be on a peripheral device or other element associated with, but not physically part of the gaming device 40. Also note that enabling the reset mechanism may also perform the function of informing the player that a reset is available.

The gaming device 40 continues with game play until the controller detects whether the player has requested a reset (block 108). If the answer to the query at block 108 is no, a reset request has not been detected, game play continues. If, however, the answer to the query at block 108 is yes, the player has requested a reset, which in this exemplary embodiment may be indicated through manipulation or activation of the reset mechanism (e.g., by pushing the Y button 232 in FIG. 10), then the gaming device 40 presents a reset indication to the player (block 110). As disclosed herein, there are myriad ways in which the reset indication may be presented to the player. For the sake of example, the display 24A may present a message stating: “Please wait while the machine resets” and a progress bar or the like (see FIG. 11). Note that while the reset indication is being presented, the credit balance of the player is preserved (block 112). While it is expected that the display devices 44 blank, one way to illustrate the preservation of the credit balance is for the credit meter 32 to remain lit with the player's current credit balance. Alternatively, the credit balance may be stored in memory 54 of the gaming device 40, remotely such as in memory 78 of the controller 72, or other location as needed or desired. One way to store a credit balance is via a back up power circuit such as a capacitor or battery, as described in greater detail in U.S. Pat. No. 6,319,125, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Also note that the Gaming Standards Association BOB Message Protocol Draft v.1.1.22 of Aug. 17, 2005, section 1.10 discusses gaming machine restarts and power outages.

After the presentation of the reset indication, the display devices 44 return to their normal imagery, and the gaming device 40 resumes game play (block 114). Note that as a variation on this embodiment, the reset need not be actively requested by the player. That is, the reset could occur automatically as long as the player meets the eligibility criterion.

As alluded to earlier, there are myriad ways in which the reset indication may be presented. A more detailed explanation is provided with reference to FIG. 6. Initially, the gaming device 40 receives the reset request (block 120). The reset request may come from the player pressing a button or switch; the player selecting an icon 232 (FIG. 10) on a touch screen; swiping or inserting a reset card through a magnetic card reader; providing motion in a predetermined manner in front of a motion sensor; verbally requesting a reset from the gaming device 40 that is detected by a microphone and interpreted by an interactive voice recognition unit; activation of a combination of input devices; use of a player-tracking card at a reset card reading mechanism; providing a response to an RFID interrogator with an RFID transponder; inserting a reset token; or the like as needed or desired. Still other ways in which the gaming device 40 may receive the reset request include, but are not limited to an indication from gaming establishment personnel. The player may inform a customer service representative or other personnel that she desires a reset, and an authorized individual activates the reset mechanism. Activation may require a key, a biometric input, a special RFID transponder signal or the like after which a button, switch or other mechanism as previously described may be enabled. As yet another variation, the player may request the reset, and the gaming establishment personnel effectuates the reset through the controller 72 (see FIG. 9 and accompanying text).

Optionally, the gaming device 40 may confirm with the player (and/or the gaming establishment personnel) whether a reset is actually desired. This confirmation process may involve a question appearing on a display device 44 along with displayed instructions about a button or other mechanism to push or otherwise manipulate to confirm the reset (see FIG. 10).

The gaming device 40 then initiates the reset sequence (block 122). Initiation may include one or more of the display devices 44 providing an indication that a reset is about to occur along with an optional countdown. During this time period, input devices 42 may be disabled as needed or desired.

While the reset sequence is initiated, the gaming device 40 takes steps to preserve the credit balance (block 124). One option would be to store the credit balance in memory 54 such as a hard drive or other mechanism that need not continuously receive power. Another option is to store the credit balance remotely, such as with the controller 72, on a peripheral device, a dongle, flash memory, or on a mobile terminal 62 or other player device. As yet another option, the gaming device 40 may print a receipt (similar to a cashless gaming receipt) that indicates a credit balance and a gaming device on which the credit is owed. This receipt may, in an exemplary embodiment, be operable only in the gaming device 40 undergoing reset

The gaming device 40 then presents the reset indication (block 126). As alluded to early, the reset indication may take many forms. In a first embodiment, the gaming device 40 undergoes a full reboot. That is, much like a conventional computer equipped with a WINDOWS operating system or the like may be commanded to “Restart”, the gaming device 's operating system shuts down each of the programs actively running on the gaming device 40 and temporarily suspends provision of power to the components of the gaming device 40. Then, the gaming device 40 renews the provision of power to the components and restarts the software programs of the gaming device 40. Rebooting is thus a subset of resetting. While the software is shutting down, a message may be displayed to the player (via a display device 44) informing the player of the progress (see FIG. 11). Likewise, when the software is being restarted, messages may be displayed to the player informing the player of the progress. During this restart, the random number generator 58 may be reseeded with a new starting seed as needed or desired.

In a second embodiment, the software or application that controls the gaming functions of the gaming device 40 is disrupted (e.g., in a WINDOWS based operating system, the window is “closed”; in a UNIX system, an interrupt command such as ctrl-x or ctrl-c is used) or otherwise discontinued. However, in this embodiment, the power to the components is not interrupted. Likewise, other software components, such as those controlling peripheral devices, are not so interrupted. During the closing and opening of the software, the gaming device 40 may provide messages to the player informing the player of the progress of the operation. The random number generator 58 may be reseeded as needed or desired.

In a third embodiment, only the random number generator 58 is reseeded. A seed could be secured from a random number provider such as HOTBITS; a monotonically increasing counter could provide a new seed; or other techniques could be used. One way in which the random number generator may be reseeded is through commonly owned U.S. patent application publication number 2003/0109300, filed Dec. 11, 2002, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Again, a reset indication is provided to the player to inform the player of progress made as the random number generator 58 is reseeded.

In a fourth embodiment, certain components of the gaming device 40 may have power temporarily interrupted or cycled. For example, the display devices 44 may be blanked; an internal fan may be turned off and on; a motor on a disk drive may be actuated; a motor on the coin hopper may be temporarily activated; lights may dim and brighten; sound elements may be turned off and on; the payment system 46 may be turned off and on; reels on a slot machine may be moved to a blank-blank-blank (or other) setting from their last positions; other mechanical elements on the gaming device may be cycled; and the like as needed or desired. These elements are not mutually exclusive and one or more may be performed simultaneously or sequentially as needed or desired.

In a fifth embodiment, the player is simply told (visually or audibly) that a reset is occurring. That is, after receiving the request to reset the gaming device 40, the player is informed that the gaming device 40 is being reset while not actually resetting the gaming device 40. While it is contemplated that the operational state of the gaming device 40 does not change, the message to the player that informs the player of the reset occurrence may or may not be accompanied by any change in the state of the gaming device 40. For example, the gaming device 40 may mimic reset activities. One exemplary mimicry would be playing an audio file that sounded like a hard drive spooling down and then spinning back up or other mechanical noise such as turning off a fan or the like. Still other mimicry could be visual and include blanking a display, turning on or off a light, turning off a cash acceptor, turning off a coin hopper, turning off a speaker, refreshing a display, ringing a bell, or the like. In short, the operation of the controller of the gaming device 40 is maintained in its original operational state, but the player is informed that the gaming device 40 is being reset.

In a sixth embodiment, the reset indication is coupled with an opportunity to redo the last wager. That is, in an exemplary embodiment, the player receives an outcome on the gaming device 40 (e.g., blank-blank-blank) and requests a reset The gaming device 40 reverses the process of displaying the outcome (e.g., the reels spin in reverse, the cards are “undealt”, and the like). In such a circumstance, the reset indication is the reversal of the images. Note that this embodiment is particularly well suited for combination with other reset indications and/or may be combined with other reset activity. For example, after rebooting, a player may be provided an opportunity to redo or “do over” the last wager. As yet another variation, the player may be provided a choice between a “do over” and a reset.

In still another embodiment, the gaming device 40 may present historical outcomes on a display device 44. Such presentation of historical outcomes may be similar to spin history log in roulette. After a reset request, the reset indication may be presented by deleting the historical outcomes. Deletion of the historical outcomes may range from its mere deletion from the display device 44, its deletion from memory, or the like as needed or desired. While this embodiment could be used by any player of a gaming device 40 incorporating the embodiment, it is expected that this embodiment may appeal to the players that feel that a large win has exhausted the luck of the gaming device 40. The reset request allows the luck of the machine to be reset Again, the likelihood of another large prize is unchanged, but the player is given the illusion of control over the luck associated with the gaming device 40. During the deletion of the historical outcomes, the numbers or images associated with the historical outcomes may be scrambled randomly or sequentially blanked to further impress on the player that the deletion is in the process of occurring. Still other visual imagery may be used to convince the player that the reset process is occurring.

In all embodiments, progress may be indicated by a progress bar, a counter ticking, sand falling within an image of an hourglass, an audible signal, or the like as needed or desired. Also note that even in embodiments where power is interrupted, some provision is made to preserve the player's credit balance.

Once the reset indication has been presented (in whatever form it takes), the gaming device 40 allows the player to resume game play (block 128). Thus, for example, if the gaming device 40 rebooted, once the software were reactivated, then game play could resume. As the player's credit balance has been preserved, the player may immediately select a wager and initiate a game start, such as by pulling the handle 16. If the credit balance was stored in a cashless gaming receipt, the player may have to insert the receipt back into the gaming device 40 to re-establish her equity. If the credit balance was stored in flash memory, a dongle, or other remote location, the gaming device 40 may communicate with the element to retrieve the credit balance.

As a variation on the reset indication, the gaming device 40 may also provide alternate outputs during the reset sequence. This alternate output may take myriad forms, including, but not limited to: a light extends from a recess in the gaming device 40 illuminates and/or rotates; a favorite song of the player (as stored in a player database 82) plays; a reset bell rings constantly during the reset sequence; a video plays, perhaps on only a portion of one of the display devices 44 (note that the video may be stored locally or remotely and/or streamed over a network); a video matching the genre of the gaming device is presented on a display device 44; a strobe light atop the gaming device 40 flashes during the reset sequence (note that the strobe may be labeled “Reset in Progress” or the like); an illuminated meter showing the progress of the reset sequence is displayed; a graphical display of the random number generator 58 being reset or cleaned is presented; a vibration begins and continues through the reset process, ending on completion of the reset sequence; resetting neighboring devices that are currently unused; and the like as needed or desired. This reset indication could, as noted elsewhere, be performed by a peripheral device if needed or desired.

A variation of the present invention involves hinting to the player that a gaming device 40 is “going cold”, which may, in turn, encourage the player to activate a reset. An exemplary flow chart of this aspect of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 7. Initially, as previously described, the player establishes equity (block 130) and game play is conducted (block 132). The controller determines if the player is eligible for a reset (block 134). If the answer to the query at block 134 is no, the player is not eligible for a reset, conductance of game play continues.

If, however, the answer to block 134 is yes, the player is eligible for a reset, the controller may determine if the player is experiencing a losing streak (block 136). For example, a counter or other mechanism may track how many losing outcomes the player has received since the last winning outcome. Once the counter exceeds a predetermined threshold, the query at block 136 may be answered affirmatively. In the absence of an affirmative answer to block 136, game play continues.

As an alternative to the counter embodiment, a more complex mathematical algorithm may be used to determine if the player's winnings are less than a predetermined percentage of the player's wagers made, whether the player has twice as many losing outcomes as winning outcomes, whether the player has twice as large losses as wins, whether the player has losses greater than a theoretical win, or other benchmark. Still other measures for determining if the player is on a losing streak may be used as needed or desired.

In some embodiments, once it is determined that the player is on a losing streak or has otherwise met a qualifying criterion, the gaming device 40 exhibits a deterioration indication (block 138). There are numerous possibilities as to how the deterioration indication may be exhibited. For example, the display devices 44 may dim; contrast or color balance may be modified; any speakers associated with the gaming device 40 may change volume (up or down) or audible outputs from the gaming device may be purposefully distorted (randomly or systematically) in such a manner as to make it appear that the speakers are failing (e.g., pops, clicks, cracks, whistles, and the like may be introduced into a soundtrack associated with the gaming device 40), video and audio may become unsynchronized, or the like. Some of the reset availability indications may also (or instead) be used to exhibit a deterioration indication. For example, a scent-emitting device could emit a noxious odor (e.g., sulfur dioxide) to indicate the machine has “gone bad”. A temperature controllable element may chill a component (e.g., the start button 18) of the gaming device 40 to indicate the machine has “gone cold”. As still another variation, the gaming device 40 may vibrate (systematically or randomly) to indicate that the machine is deteriorating. Mechanical components of the gaming device 40 may be actuated or turned off (randomly or systematically) in such a manner as to convey the same indication, although in an exemplary embodiment, such actuations do not actually affect game play substantively. That is, while the actuations may make the player feel that game play has slowed, or that the deterioration is interfering with the game play, the actual outcome determination and payouts to the player are not affected. Game play may slow down or speed up to indicate deterioration. For example, cards in a video poker device may take longer to be displayed and dealt. Likewise, the cards themselves may be modified to appear old and worm. Still another option would be to change the resistance on springs that lie under buttons such that buttons become “soggy” or harder to push. As is readily apparent, other forms of deterioration indications also lie within the scope of the present invention.

In an exemplary embodiment, the degree with which the deterioration is exhibited may scale according to the degree or length of the player's losing streak. That is, the more the player loses, the more pronounced the deterioration indication becomes. Also note that these indications are introduced on purpose and may not substantively or materially affect operation of the gaming device 40 (i.e., the credit balance does not change, the payout table does not change, the probability of a particular outcome does not change, etc.).

After exhibiting the deterioration indication for a predetermined amount of time, the gaming device 40 may alert the player as to the availability of a reset option (block 140). As noted above, there are many ways that this alert may be provided. Further, the alert may be bed to the deterioration. For example, the display device 44 may state “Are you experiencing poor audio quality? Try resetting the machine champ!”

The controller may then monitor whether the player has requested a reset (block 142). If the player does not request the reset, game play continues with the deterioration indication remaining if needed or desired. Note that in one embodiment, if the player begins winning, the deterioration indication may abate.

If, however, the player requests the reset function, the gaming device 40 presents the reset indication (block 144) as previously described and the deterioration indication is removed (block 146).

Note that in some embodiments, once the reset function has been invoked and the reset indication presented, the gaming device 40 may switch temporarily to a more favorable pay table/pay schedule or modify the frequency of winning outcomes so that the player feels that the reset was worthwhile. Thus, the new pay table may include more winning outcomes, but maintains the same hold percentage. Alternatively, the new pay table may have a larger jackpot but lower odds of winning it so that the hold percentage remains the same. Still other variations in the second pay table are within the scope of the present invention. While this variation can be used in any of the embodiments described herein, its use is optional and need not be used with any of the embodiments.

As an aside, if a player leaves a gaming device 40 without having reset the gaming device 40, but with the gaming device 40 exhibiting deterioration indicia, the controller may instruct the gaming device 40 to stop exhibiting deterioration indicia so as to attract a new player. Likewise, if the player ignores the deterioration function for a predetermined number of game starts, predetermined period of time, or some other basis, the deterioration indicia may be removed.

In another embodiment, the deterioration indication is not a function of a losing streak, but rather could be based on the appearance or occurrence of some other event For example, the appearance of a particular symbol on a reel or a particular card may cause the deterioration indication to begin. As a variation, the deterioration indication could result from a big win, on the theory that the gaming device 40 is “tired” after having produced such a copious reward for the player. Other trigger events or eligibility criteria are also within the scope of the present invention.

Eligibility for a reset may be determined through any number of ways depending in part on the nature of the eligibility criterion. One way in which eligibility for a reset may be monitored is through the use of a player-tracking database 150 (which may be an embodiment of player database 82), which is illustrated in FIG. 8. The player-tracking database 150 may include a player identifier field 152, a name field 154, an address field 156, a player since filed 158, a total wagered field 160, a last reset used field 162, a hotel guest field 164, a theoretical win field 166, a number of consecutive losses field 168, and a reset available field 170.

The player identifier field 152 may include a unique alphanumeric code which identifies the player from all other players in the database 150. Alternatively an image or other unique identifier may be stored in this field. The name field 154, address field 156, and player since field 158 may be established when the player registers with the gaming establishment and may be provided by the player or dictated by the time at which the application was received. The total wagered field 160 may indicate the amount the player has wagered.

The last reset used field 162 indicates the last time the player has used a reset. The hotel guest field 164 simply denotes whether the player is a guest of the hotel associated with the gaming establishment. The theoretical win field 166 is closely tied to the total wager field 160, but is generally considered a more accurate representation of the player's worth to the gaming establishment. The number of consecutive losses field 168 may track the counters for the player that indicate how many times or how much the player has lost. The reset available field 170 may be a flag that indicates based on the other information in the player-tracking database 150 whether the player is eligible to request a reset. Note that other fields may be present and not all of the fields recited herein need be present for all embodiments of the present invention.

Eligibility can be a function of an attribute of the player. Almost any attribute of the player may be used and in particular attributes that are identity specific may be used readily. The player name could be used. For example, a promotion in which players whose name begins with Q are deemed to have a reset available to them in the month of March. Thus, any player whose name is Quinn could claim a reset The player's address could be used. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, gaming establishments could promote resets to Katrina victims by allowing all players from the zip codes 70110-70195 (i.e., essentially New Orleans) to have a reset The player since field 158 could be used. That is, all players active in the player-tracking program since before 2000 could automatically qualify for resets as a gesture of appreciation for their long time patronage of the program. Birth dates could also be used. As some gamblers are known to be superstitious, the birth date option could be tied to a horoscope or the like. Likewise, the criterion could be total wagered or theoretical win. Players that have wagered above a certain threshold or maintain a theoretical win above a certain threshold may automatically be entitled to a reset. Likewise, patrons that are also hotel guests in the hotel associated with the gaming establishment may automatically be eligible (or disqualified if desired) for a reset. While not illustrated, a number of comp points earned by the player may be used. In an exemplary embodiment, if the comp points are above a certain threshold or qualify the player for a particular level or status within the program (e.g., silver, gold, diamond), then a reset may be offered. Such criteria are readily ascertained through evaluation of data within the player-tracking database 150. Thus, players may be incentivized to join player-tracking programs and use their player-tracking devices (cards, RFID transponders, biometric inputs, etc.) so as to become eligible for resets as they desire.

Other factors may be stored in a player-tracking database, but need not be. For example, whether a player is in an auxiliary play mode may determine if the player is eligible to receive a reset. Exemplary auxiliary play modes include, but are not limited to: flat-rate play (e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 6,077,163); auto-play mode (e.g., U.S. Patent Publication No. 2003/0114217); insurance play (e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 6,113,493); three-dimensional graphics mode; or the like. The disclosures of the '163 and '493 patents as well as the '217 publication are herein incorporated by reference in their entireties. The criterion could be whether the player operates a particular input device on the gaming device 40. For example, players that use the handle 16 may be eligible for resets, but those that use the start button 18 are not. A variation is whether the player used a particular player-tracking device. For example, to incentivize use of RFID transponders as player-tracking devices, players using such devices may be eligible for resets, but players that use magnetic stripe cards may not (or vice versa).

Still another criterion is whether the player has allowed certain information to be presented on a display device 44. For example, a player may authorize that advertisements be presented to the player in exchange for the right to request a reset Similarly, the player may authorize intrusive balance updates be displayed on the display device (perhaps overlaid on the reels of a slot machine) if the balance drops below a predetermined threshold.

Still other criteria include movement of the player. For example, a weight sensor indicating that a player has stood up from the seat in front of the gaming device 40 may make the player eligible to request a reset (but perhaps only on that particular gaming device 40). Another example would be an accelerometer that senses if the player punches, kicks, or shakes the gaming device 40 (perhaps indicating frustration with the gaming device 40). If the sensor reports movement above a certain threshold (such as when the player is fidgeting which may be an indication that the player is frustrated with the gaming device 40), then the player may be made eligible for a reset.

Still other sensors such as a heart rate sensor, an optical sensor to gauge whether a player is restless, an audio sensor to detect strained or upset speech from the player, or an infrared thermal camera to detect a player's body temperature may be used to qualify a player for a reset.

As yet another criterion, the player may have indicated a preference to have resets made available. This preference may be stored in the player-tracking database 150, indicated through an input on the gaming device 40, or other technique as needed or desired. For example, the player could make a selection from a menu on a display (such as a drop down menu or buttons on a touch screen). Still alternatively, in a gaming device 40 equipped with a microphone and a voice recognition module, the player may merely state her preference for reset availability.

Other eligibility criteria rely on metrics of game play. As noted, total wager and theoretical win (or other amount of play metric (session win, number of prizes won, etc.) may be used. Also, a duration of play may be measured (and perhaps stored in the player-tracking database 150), and if the duration exceeds a threshold, the player may be eligible for a reset. Rate of game play may be measured (and perhaps stored in the player-tracking database 150), and if the rate exceeds a predetermined threshold, the player may be eligible for a reset. Rate of play may be measured by amount of credits wagered per minute, number of game starts per minute, or the like. Still another option would be to measure a change in rate of game play, and if the rate changes (up or down) more than a predetermined threshold, the player may be eligible for a reset A length of time associated with a particular condition may also be used. For example, the length of time the player has maintained a credit balance above a predetermined threshold or maintained a rate of play higher than a predetermined threshold may be used to determine if the player is eligible for a reset.

Still other metrics that may be used to determine eligibility include, but are not limited to: whether the player has received a specific outcome (e.g., blank-blank-blank); number of winning outcomes, number of losing outcomes, near wins (diamond-diamond-blank, but just off payline 14 is the last diamond), outcomes containing particular indicia (e.g., one blank on a reel is replaced by a “reset” symbol, card with reset symbol is dealt in video poker), game play of a particular sort occurs (e.g., player is dealt a specific card in video poker, player discards a particular card in video poker, player gains access to a bonus round on a slot machine, and the like), and the like.

The eligibility may be tied to the player's credit balance. In particular, whether the player's credit balance is above or below a predetermined threshold, whether the player's credit balance has risen or fallen more than a predetermined threshold, whether the credit balance is within a certain range, an average credit balance, an average rate of change of the credit balance, or the number of times the player has increased the credit balance through increasing the equity, and the like. Furthermore, for embodiments where the player may play concurrently more than one gaming device, the concept of the credit balance criteria may be spread across the multiple gaming devices or it one gaming device 40 qualifies for a reset, all the gaming devices qualify for resets.

Still other eligibility criteria could be based on game play at other gaming devices 40. For example, the number of gaming devices 40 that are occupied or unoccupied within the gaming establishment, the number of gaming devices 40 within a class of gaming devices (e.g., video poker) that are occupied or unoccupied, the number of gaming devices 40 made by a particular manufacturer that are occupied or unoccupied, the number of gaming devices 40 within a particular genre that are occupied or unoccupied, the number of gaming devices 40 that have the same skin that are occupied or unoccupied may all be used to determine eligibility. Likewise, the relative game play on multiple gaming devices 40 may be used. For example, if a first gaming device 40A has experienced multiple losing outcomes, but a second gaming device 40B that is positioned proximate to the first gaming device 40A has experienced a recent winning outcome, the first gaming device 40A may be eligible for a reset

A player that has already switched gaming devices 40 may be made eligible based on a cumulative experience. For example, if the player experiences five losing outcomes on a first gaming device 40A, switches to a second gaming device 30B and experiences another five losing outcomes, the player may be offered a reset Instead of number of consecutive losing outcomes, total wager, theoretical win, or other factor may be used if needed or desired.

The player may also have greater control about the eligibility of a reset. For example, the player may merely request a reset and that request qualify the player for a reset. This request may be made through the gaming device 40 or through gaming establishment personnel as needed or desired. Alternatively, the player may set conditions upon which she would like to be able to reset the gaming device 40. For example, at the start of a gaming session, the player may indicate that she would like to be able to reset the gaming device 40 after twenty consecutive losing outcomes. Then, when the player experiences twenty consecutive losing outcomes, the reset function is made available. This player designated criterion may be related to any appropriate criterion set forth herein.

Instead of the player requesting or setting the eligibility criterion, a third party may set the criterion. For example, a spouse, relative, acquaintance, or significant other may set the criterion in substantially the same manner as that described for the player. Such a person may make the request remotely through a computer, mobile terminal, or the like, or could make the request in person to gaming establishment personnel. Alternatively, gaming establishment personnel may set the criterion. The individual could be a waitress, waiter, host, dealer, croupier, pit boss, security, or the like. They may base the criterion on observations, whim, or predefined rules set by the gaming establishment (e.g., if you see someone hit a machine, offer her a reset). The personnel may perform the reset manually using an authorization code, special key, passcard, RFID transponder, mobile terminal, or the like. Alternatively, the personnel may be equipped with a mobile terminal may use the mobile terminal or other computer terminal to indicate information relating to the player such that the gaming device 40 marks the player as eligible for a reset and provides an indication of such to the player. For more information on personnel using mobile terminals, the interested reader is referred to U.S. Patent Publication No. 2003/0027635, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Still other criteria may involve the gaming establishment Exemplary criteria within this category include, but are not limited to: the time of day at the gaming establishment (e.g., a casino may allow resets between 3 AM and 8 AM when usage is historically low), gaming device 40 availability, profit rates, hotel room occupancy, and the like.

In still another embodiment, eligibility is based on whether the player has paid a premium value to make resets available. For example, the player pays an additional five dollars an hour to have resets available for that hour. Another example would be to paid for through the use of comp points, filling out a survey, other otherwise performing activity that may have value (directly or indirectly) to the gaming establishment. As still another option, the resets could be included as part of a package sold to the player. For example, a player could purchase a number of guaranteed plays, insurance, and two resets for a single price. Other values and time frames are possible, and the previous examples are not intended to be limiting.

As still another embodiment, eligibility may be granted merely for playing a particular gaming device 40. That is, that particular gaming device 40 generally has resets available to any player of that device. Thus, a player becomes eligible for resets by playing on that particular gaming device 40. While the player still has to choose to play at the particular gaming device 40, the player need not otherwise qualify for reset capability. This reset may be periodic (e.g., once an hour, once per day, once per session, once per player tracking card) or continuously available. As an aside, more stringent eligibility criteria may help prevent abuse of the reset functionality, but it is within the scope of the present invention to make such resets generally available.

While most of the embodiments have focused on the provision of a single reset, or being generally eligible to reset the gaming device 40, the invention is not so limited. Certain embodiments of the present invention may award the player a set number of resets greater than one (e.g., ten resets). The number of resets may be based on the degree to which eligibility criteria are exceeded. For example, if a reset is available if a losing rate of $10/minute is established, then two resets may be available if a losing rate of $20/minute is established. Alternatively, during peak times, satisfying eligibility may provide a single reset, but in off-peak times, three resets are available. When the gaming device 40 informs the player of the reset availability, the number and any other conditions associated with use of the resets (e.g., while the player may have been granted three resets, the resets may only be used once every fifty game starts) may also be disclosed so that the player may make an informed decision about whether and when to use a reset.

In one embodiment, if the player chooses not to use her reset for which she has become eligible, the reset may expire when the player leaves the gaming device 40 on which the reset was earned. However, in an alternate embodiment, the player may receive a receipt similar to a cashless gaming receipt from a printer within the gaming device 40. Alternatively, a reset token may be provided. This receipt or token may then be used at a later time to request a reset from the gaming device 40. In a first embodiment, the receipt may only be redeemed on the issuing gaming device 40. In a second embodiment, the receipt may be used only on gaming devices 40 in the same class as the issuing gaming device 40. In a third embodiment, the receipt may be used only on a gaming device 40 from the same manufacturer of the issuing gaming device 40. In a fourth embodiment, the receipt may be used on any other gaming device 40. In another embodiment, limitations on the use of the reset may be imposed. For example, a reset earned during off-peak hours may be limited to use in off-peak hours. Variations on these limitations are within the scope of the present invention. Instead of a receipt, the earned resets may be stored in the player-tracking database 150 or in memory of a smart card or similar memory location as needed or desired.

While the above embodiments focus on situations where the reset is requested and delivered at the gaming device 40, an alternate embodiment relates to situations where the gaming device 40 is a client device for a server. In such an embodiment, the nature of the reset command can come from the server instead of the local processor. An exemplary flow chart for this embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 9.

Initially, the player establishes equity (block 200) and game play is conducted (block 202) as previously described. The equity may, however, be stored in the controller 72 or other server associated with the server based embodiment. The player, using his client based gaming device 40, requests a reset through the network 64 to the server (block 204), which may be the controller 72. This request may be made using any appropriate protocol or communication technique, but, in an exemplary embodiment, is a packet-based signal using an IP based network. As a variation, the player may make the request to gaming establishment personnel who then provide appropriate commands to the server (either manually, through a mobile terminal, or the like).

The server may check to see if the player is eligible as previously described. If authorized, the server then sends a signal back to the gaming device 40 to present a reset indication (block 206). This signal may again be made using any appropriate protocol and message format.

On receipt of the signal from the server, the gaming device 40 may present a reset indication to the player. This reset indication may be a full system reboot through a faux reset as described herein. For example, WINDOWS operating systems now allow remote reboots, and such may be invoked if the relevant operating systems are WINDOWS based. Other operating systems may have similar functionality, and the WINDOWS example is not intended to be limiting.

The server may store the player's credit balance during the reset indication (block 208). Such an arrangement may be particularly practical if a full reboot is being performed by the gaming device 40. Once the reset indication is completed, the server restores the credit balance at the gaming device 40 (block 210), and game play may resume. Alternatively, the credit balance may be stored in some other non-volatile memory such as memory within a mobile terminal 62, a dongle, or the like.

The primary distinction between the server based embodiment and the embodiments described elsewhere in the current disclosure is that the instruction to present the reset indication comes from a remote location rather than from the gaming device's processor 52. Note, however, that not every server based gaming device 40 has to operate in this manner. Rather, some server based gaming devices 40 could have local control over the reset process.

As a variation on the server-based embodiment, the gaming device 40 may remain in its original state, but the reset request could “reset” the server. Such resets may include reseeding a random number generator, or other activity as previously described. However, in many implementations, the server will serve more than a single gaming device 40, so such a reset may be limited so as to not interfere with the operation of other gaming activity. The server may send a signal to the gaming device 40 to inform the player as to the status of the reset request (e.g., a progress bar may be provided) and then inform the player that the reset was successful. Whether the server is actually reset or not is an implementation choice, but in either event, the player may be provided a reset indication. Note that this embodiment may not provide the visceral satisfaction of resetting the actual gaming device 40 for the player, but it is within the scope of the present invention.

As still another variation on the present invention, resets may become available periodically. For example, a reset may become available every one hundred handle pulls or once every half-hour. A counter may be presented on one or more of the display devices 44 that counts down (or possibly counts up) to the next reset availability. The counter may begin the count when game play starts by the player or function independently of the player.

Rules of Interpretation

Numerous embodiments are described in this disclosure, and are presented for illustrative purposes only. The described embodiments are not, and are not intended to be, limiting in any sense. The presently disclosed invention(s) are widely applicable to numerous embodiments, as is readily apparent from the disclosure. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the disclosed invention(s) may be practiced with various modifications and alterations, such as structural, logical, software, and electrical modifications. Although particular features of the disclosed invention(s) may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments and/or drawings, it should be understood that such features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or drawings with reference to which they are described, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The present disclosure is neither a literal description of all embodiments nor a listing of features of the invention that must be present in all embodiments.

Neither the Title (set forth at the beginning of the first page of this disclosure) nor the Abstract (set forth at the end of this disclosure) is to be taken as limiting in any way as the scope of the disclosed invention(s).

The term “product” means any machine, manufacture and/or composition of matter as contemplated by 35 U.S.C. §101, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The terms “an embodiment”, “embodiment”, “embodiments”, “the embodiment”, “the embodiments”, “one or more embodiments”, “some embodiments”, “one embodiment” and the like mean “one or more (but not all) disclosed embodiments”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The terms “the invention” and “the present invention” and the like mean “one or more embodiments of the present invention.”

A reference to “another embodiment” in describing an embodiment does not imply that the referenced embodiment is mutually exclusive with another embodiment (e.g., an embodiment described before the referenced embodiment), unless expressly specified otherwise.

The terms “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof mean “including but not limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “plurality” means “two or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “herein” means “in the present disclosure, including anything which may be incorporated by reference”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The phrase “at least one of”, when such phrase modifies a plurality of things (such as an enumerated list of things) means any combination of one or more of those things, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the phrase at least one of a widget, a car and a wheel means either (i) a widget, (ii) a car, (iii) a wheel, (iv) a widget and a car, (v) a widget and a wheel, (vi) a car and a wheel, or (vii) a widget, a car and a wheel.

The phrase “based on” does not mean “based only on”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “based on” describes both “based only on” and “based at least on”.

The term “whereby” is used herein only to precede a clause or other set of words that express only the intended result, objective or consequence of something that is previously and explicitly recited. Thus, when the term “whereby” is used in a claim, the clause or other words that the term “whereby” modifies do not establish specific further limitations of the claim or otherwise restricts the meaning or scope of the claim.

Where a limitaton of a first claim would cover one of a feature as well as more than one of a feature (e.g., a limitation such as “at least one widget” covers one widget as well as more than one widget), and where in a second claim that depends on the first claim, the second claim uses a definite article “the” to refer to the limitation (e.g., “the widget”), this does not imply that the first claim covers only one of the feature, and this does not imply that the second claim covers only one of the feature (e.g., “the widget” can cover both one widget and more than one widget).

Each process (whether called a method, algorithm or otherwise) inherently includes one or more steps, and therefore all references to a “step” or “steps” of a process have an inherent antecedent basis in the mere recitation of the term ‘process’ or a like term. Accordingly, any reference in a claim to a ‘step’ or ‘steps’ of a process has sufficient antecedent basis.

When an ordinal number (such as “first”, “second”, “third” and so on) is used as an adjective before a term, that ordinal number is used (unless expressly specified otherwise) merely to indicate a particular feature, such as to distinguish that particular feature from another feature that is described by the same term or by a similar term. For example, a “first widget” may be so named merely to distinguish it from, e.g., a “second widget”. Thus, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate any other relationship between the two widgets, and likewise does not indicate any other characteristics of either or both widgets. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” (1) does not indicate that either widget comes before or after any other in order or location; (2) does not indicate that either widget occurs or acts before or after any other in time; and (3) does not indicate that either widget ranks above or below any other, as in importance or quality. In addition, the mere usage of ordinal numbers does not define a numerical limit to the features identified with the ordinal numbers. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate that there must be no more than two widgets.

When a single device or article is described herein, more than one device or article (whether or not they cooperate) may alternatively be used in place of the single device or article that is described. Accordingly, the functionality that is described as being possessed by a device may alternatively be possessed by more than one device or article (whether or not they cooperate).

Similarly, where more than one device or article is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), a single device or article may alternatively be used in place of the more than one device or article that is described. For example, a plurality of computer-based devices may be substituted with a single computer-based device. Accordingly, the various functionality that is described as being possessed by more than one device or article may alternatively be possessed by a single device or article.

The functionality and/or the features of a single device that is described may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices that are described but are not explicitly described as having such functionality and/or features. Thus, other embodiments need not include the described device itself, but rather can include the one or more other devices which would, in those other embodiments, have such functionality/features.

Devices that are in communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. On the contrary, such devices need only transmit to each other as necessary or desirable, and may actually refrain from exchanging data most of the time. For example, a machine in communication with another machine via the Internet may not transmit data to the other machine for weeks at a time. In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.

A description of an embodiment with several components or features does not imply that all or even any of such components and/or features are required. On the contrary, a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments of the present invention(s). Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no component and/or feature is essential or required.

Further, although process steps, algorithms or the like may be described in a sequential order, such processes may be configured to work in different orders. In other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be explicitly described does not necessarily indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order. The steps of processes described herein may be performed in any order practical. Further, some steps may be performed simultaneously despite being described or implied as occurring non-simultaneously (e.g., because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does not imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention, and does not imply that the illustrated process is preferred.

Although a process may be described as including a plurality of steps, that does not indicate that all or even any of the steps are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other processes that omit some or all of the described steps. Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no step is essential or required.

Although a product may be described as including a plurality of components, aspects, qualities, characteristics and/or features, that does not indicate that all of the plurality are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other products that omit some or all of the described plurality.

An enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. Likewise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are comprehensive of any category, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are mutually exclusive and does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are comprehensive of any category.

Headings of sections provided in this disclosure are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.

A player “wagers” at least a single “unit of wager” to pay for a game start. In many gaming devices, a unit of wager may be referred to as a credit. Many gaming devices allow multiple credits to be wagered concurrently in exchange for an improved paytable or more paylines. A unit of wager may be equivalent to a fractional dollar amount, or a coin (e.g., $0.05 (nickel) or $0.25 (quarter)) or specified amount of another currency (e.g., a specified number of comp points). Some paytables are expressed as a number of coins won relative to a number of coins wagered. In such instances, the term coin is the same as a unit of wager. Because gaming devices are embodied in different denominations, it is relevant to note that a coin, credit, or unit of wager on a first device may not be identically valued as a coin, credit, or unit of wager on a second device. For example, a credit on a quarter slot machine (on which the credit is equivalent to $0.25) is not the same as a credit on a five dollar slot machine (on which the credit is equivalent to $5.00). Accordingly, it should be understood that in embodiments in which a player may cash out credits from a first gaming device that operates based on a first denomination (e.g., a quarter-play slot machine) and establish, using only the cashed out credits, a credit balance on a second gaming device that operates based on a second denomination (e.g., a nickel-play slot machine), the player may receive a different number or credits on the second gaming device than the number of credits cashed out at the first gaming device.

“Determining” something can be performed in a variety of manners and therefore the term “determining” (and like terms) includes calculating, computing, deriving, looking up (e.g., in a table, database or data structure), ascertaining and the like.

It will be readily apparent that the various methods and algorithms described herein may be implemented by, e.g., appropriately programmed general purpose computers and computing devices. Typically a processor (e.g., one or more microprocessors) will receive instructions from a memory or like device, and execute those instructions, thereby performing one or more processes defined by those instructions. Further, programs that implement such methods and algorithms may be stored and transmitted using a variety of media (e.g., computer readable media) in a number of manners. In some embodiments, hard-wired circuitry or custom hardware may be used in place of, or in combination with, software instructions for implementation of the processes of various embodiments. Thus, embodiments are not limited to any specific combination of hardware and software

A “processor” means any one or more microprocessors, CPU devices, computing devices, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, or like devices.

The term “computer-readable medium” refers to any medium that participates in providing data (e.g., instructions) that may be read by a computer, a processor or a like device. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks and other persistent memory. Volatile media include DRAM, which typically constitutes the main memory. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a system bus coupled to the processor. Transmission media may include or convey acoustic waves, light waves and electromagnetic emissions, such as those generated during RF and IR data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, DVD, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, a PROM, an EPROM, a FLASH-EEPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read.

Various forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying sequences of instructions to a processor. For example, sequences of instruction (i) may be delivered from RAM to a processor, (ii) may be carried over a wireless transmission medium, and/or (iii) may be formatted according to numerous formats, standards or protocols, such as Bluetooth™, TDMA, CDMA, 3G.

Where databases are described, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by, e.g., tables illustrated in drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those described herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models, hierarchical electronic file structures, and/or distributed databases) could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein. Likewise, object methods or behaviors of a database can be used to implement various processes, such as the described herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from a device that accesses data in such a database.

Some embodiments can be configured to work in a network environment including a computer that is in communication, via a communications network, with one or more devices. The computer may communicate with the devices directly or indirectly, via a wired or wireless medium such as the Internet, LAN, WAN or Ethernet (or IEEE 802.3), Token Ring, SAP, ATP, Bluetooth, or via any appropriate communications means or combination of communications means. Each of the devices may comprise computers, such as those based on the Intel® Pentium® or Centrino™ processor, that are adapted to communicate with the computer. Any number and type of machines may be in communication with the computer. Communications over the Internet may be through a website maintained by a computer on a remote server or over an online data network including commercial online service providers, bulletin board systems, and the like. In yet other embodiments, the devices may communicate with one another and/or a computer over RF, cable TV, satellite links, and the like.

Devices in communication with each other need not be continually transmitting to each other. On the contrary, such computers and devices need only transmit to each other as necessary, and may actually refrain from exchanging data most of the time.

Communication among computers and devices may be encrypted to insure privacy and prevent fraud in any of a variety of ways well known in the art. Appropriate cryptographic protocols for bolstering system security are described in Schneier, APPLIED CRYPTOGRAPHY, PROTOCOLS, ALGORITHMS, AND SOURCE CODE IN C, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2d ed., 1996, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

The present disclosure provides, to one of ordinary skill in the art, an enabling description of several embodiments and/or inventions. Some of these embodiments and/or inventions may not be claimed in the present disclosure, but may nevertheless be claimed in one or more continuing applications that claim the benefit of priority of the present disclosure.