Title:
GAMING SYSTEM, A METHOD OF GAMING AND A JACKPOT GAME CONTROLLER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system, and a method of gaming on the system. The method includes conducting a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters, obtaining a jackpot increment; and updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.



Inventors:
Walker, Peter Leslie (Marsfield, AU)
Davis, Paul (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
12/897862
Publication Date:
04/14/2011
Filing Date:
10/05/2010
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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20080032759Game Device and Game SystemFebruary, 2008Takahashi
20070243916Objective oriented reality horror survival gameOctober, 2007Lee
20080076497Method and system for online prediction-based entertainmentMarch, 2008Kiskis et al.
20090117995METHOD OF CREDIT INPUT AND A GAMING SYSTEMMay, 2009Lyons et al.
20090258688Gaming Machine and Card Game MachineOctober, 2009Yoshizawa
20070111775Independent data input system for casino playMay, 2007Yoseloff
20080254848Gaming device having increasing odds of winningOctober, 2008Olushile
20060073897Wagering game with group jackpotApril, 2006Englman et al.
20050215325Universal gaming engineSeptember, 2005Nguyen et al.



Foreign References:
WO2008133849A1
WO2009032150A1
Primary Examiner:
SKAARUP, JASON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCANDREWS HELD & MALLOY, LTD (500 WEST MADISON STREET SUITE 3400, CHICAGO, IL, 60661, US)
Claims:
1. A method of gaming comprising: conducting a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters; obtaining a jackpot increment; and updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.

2. A method as claimed in claim 1, comprising obtaining a plurality of jackpot increments and incrementing one of the jackpot prizes for each jackpot increment.

3. A method as claimed in claim 2, comprising determining that one of the plurality of separate jackpot prizes has reached a prize threshold due to prior jackpot increments, and subsequently updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

4. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment in accordance with probabilities set to provide a desired apportionment of the increments between the jackpot prizes.

5. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises incrementing the jackpot prizes in accordance with a designated sequence of increments to apportion the increments between the jackpot prizes.

6. A jackpot controller, the jackpot controller arranged to: conduct a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters; receive a jackpot increment; and update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.

7. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 6, arranged to receive a plurality of jackpot increments and incrementing one of the jackpot prizes for each jackpot increment.

8. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 7, arranged to determine that one of the plurality of separate jackpot prizes has reached a prize threshold due to prior jackpot increments, and subsequently update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

9. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 7, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment in accordance with probabilities set to provide a desired apportionment of the increments between the jackpot prizes.

10. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 7, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller incrementing the jackpot prizes in accordance with a designated sequence of increments to apportion the increments between the jackpot prizes.

11. A gaming system comprising: a jackpot controller; a plurality of jackpot meters storing respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and a plurality of gaming devices in data communication with the jackpot controller and arranged to communicate jackpot increments to the jackpot controller, the jackpot controller arranged to receive the jackpot increments and update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

12. A gaming system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the jackpot controller is arranged to determine that one of the plurality of separate jackpot prizes has reached a prize threshold due to prior jackpot increments, and subsequently update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

13. A gaming system as claimed in claim 11, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment in accordance with probabilities set to provide a desired apportionment of the increments between the jackpot prizes.

14. A gaming system as claimed in claim 11, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller incrementing the jackpot prizes in accordance with a designated sequence of increments to apportion the increments between the jackpot prizes.

15. A jackpot controller comprising: a network interface via which the jackpot controller receives jackpot increments; a plurality of jackpot meters storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and an increment processor arranged to process each received jackpot increment to selectively increment one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.

16. A game controller for a gaming system, the game controller the game controller comprising a memory storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, the game controller arranged to conduct a game, obtain jackpot increments based on play of the game, and to selectively increment one of the jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

17. A method of gaming comprising: conducting a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters; determining that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of the jackpot prizes; and subsequently updating the jackpot meters by incrementing one or more of the other jackpot prizes with jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met.

18. A method as claimed in claim 17, comprising updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

19. A method as claimed in claim 18, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment from jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold.

20. A method as claimed in claim 17, wherein each jackpot increment is divided amongst jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold and once a jackpot prize reaches the threshold, increments intended for the jackpot which has reached the threshold are provided to a designated one or more of the one or more other jackpot prizes.

21. A jackpot controller, the jackpot controller arranged to: conduct a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters; determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of the jackpot prizes; and update the jackpot meters by incrementing one or more of the other jackpot prizes with jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met subsequent to the threshold being met.

22. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 21, arranged to update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

23. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 22, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment from jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold.

24. A jackpot controller as claimed in claim 21, wherein each jackpot increment is divided amongst jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold and once a jackpot prize reaches the threshold, increments intended for the jackpot which has reached the threshold are provided to a designated one or more of the one or more other jackpot prizes.

25. A gaming system comprising: a jackpot controller; a plurality of jackpot meters storing respective ones of a plurality of jackpot prizes; and a plurality of gaming devices in data communication with the jackpot controller and arranged to communicate jackpot increments to the jackpot controller, the jackpot controller arranged to: determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and update the jackpot meters by incrementing one or more of the other jackpot prizes with jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met subsequent to the threshold being met.

26. A gaming system as claimed in claim 25, wherein the jackpot controller is arranged to update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

27. A gaming system as claimed in claim 25, wherein selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment from jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold.

28. A gaming system as claimed in claim 25, wherein each jackpot increment is divided amongst jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold and once a jackpot prize reaches the threshold, increments intended for the jackpot which has reached the threshold are provided to a designated one or more of the one or more other jackpot prizes.

29. A jackpot controller comprising: a network interface via which the jackpot controller receives jackpot increments; a plurality of jackpot meters storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and an increment processor arranged to process each received jackpot increment, determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, and increment one or more of the other jackpot prizes with any jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met.

30. A game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to conduct a game, the game controller comprising a memory storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, and being arranged to conduct a game, obtain jackpot increments based on play of the game, determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, and increment one or more of the other jackpot prizes with any jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met.

31. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising executing computer program code to conduct, to obtain, and to update.

32. A method as claimed in claim 31, further comprising storing said computer program code in a tangible computer readable medium.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to Australian Patent Application No. 2009904993, having a filing date of Oct. 13, 2009, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/321,264, having a filing date of Apr. 6, 2010, which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[Not Applicable]

MICROFICHE/COPYRIGHT REFERENCE

[Not Applicable]

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a gaming system, a method of gaming and a jackpot game controller.

In existing jackpot systems, jackpot increments are received by a jackpot controller. If the jackpot controller maintains plural jackpots, the increment is spread across the jackpots in accordance with a defined split of the increment. For example, three jackpots split 60:30:10. The increments can be small (fractions of what is wagered) and accordingly the split of the increments will result in smaller sums. By way of example, the soft meters which hold the jackpot values may need to be able to hold up to 14 decimal places depending on regulatory requirements. The displayed value of the jackpot meter will only turnover when the soft meter increases by a designated amount.

While such jackpot systems provide players with enjoyment, a need exists for alternative jackpot systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, the invention provides a method of gaming comprising:

conducting a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters;

obtaining a jackpot increment; and

updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, the method comprises obtaining a plurality of jackpot increments and incrementing one of the jackpot prizes for each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, the method comprises determining that one of the plurality of separate jackpot prizes has reached a prize threshold due to prior jackpot increments, and subsequently updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment in accordance with probabilities set to provide a desired apportionment of the increments between the jackpot prizes.

In an embodiment, incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises incrementing the jackpot prizes in accordance with a designated sequence of increments to apportion the increments between the jackpot prizes.

In a second aspect, the invention provides a jackpot controller, the jackpot controller arranged to:

conduct a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters;

receive a jackpot increment; and

update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, the jackpot controller is arranged to receive a plurality of jackpot increments and incrementing one of the jackpot prizes for each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, the jackpot controller is arranged to determine that one of the plurality of separate jackpot prizes has reached a prize threshold due to prior jackpot increments, and subsequently update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment in accordance with probabilities set to provide a desired apportionment of the increments between the jackpot prizes.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller incrementing the jackpot prizes in accordance with a designated sequence of increments to apportion the increments between the jackpot prizes.

In a third aspect, the invention provides a gaming system comprising:

a jackpot controller;

a plurality of jackpot meters storing respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and

a plurality of gaming devices in data communication with the jackpot controller and arranged to communicate jackpot increments to the jackpot controller,

the jackpot controller arranged to receive the jackpot increments and update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, the jackpot controller is arranged to determine that one of the plurality of separate jackpot prizes has reached a prize threshold due to prior jackpot increments, and subsequently update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment in accordance with probabilities set to provide a desired apportionment of the increments between the jackpot prizes.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises the jackpot controller incrementing the jackpot prizes in accordance with a designated sequence of increments to apportion the increments between the jackpot prizes.

In a fourth aspect, the invention provides a jackpot controller comprising:

a network interface via which the jackpot controller receives jackpot increments;

a plurality of jackpot meters storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and

an increment processor arranged to process each received jackpot increment to selectively increment one of the jackpot prizes with the jackpot increment.

In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a game controller for a gaming system, the game controller the game controller comprising a memory storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, the game controller arranged to conduct a game, obtain jackpot increments based on play of the game, and to selectively increment one of the jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In a sixth aspect, the invention provides a method of gaming comprising:

conducting a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters;

determining that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of the jackpot prizes; and

subsequently updating the jackpot meters by incrementing one or more of the other jackpot prizes with jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met.

In an embodiment, the method comprises updating the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, the method comprises selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment from jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold.

In an embodiment, each jackpot increment is divided amongst jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold and once a jackpot prize reaches the threshold, increments intended for the jackpot which has reached the threshold are provided to a designated one or more of the one or more other jackpot prizes.

In a seventh aspect, the invention provides a jackpot controller, the jackpot controller arranged to:

conduct a progressive jackpot game comprising a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes stored in respective ones of a plurality of jackpot meters;

determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of the jackpot prizes; and

update the jackpot meters by incrementing one or more of the other jackpot prizes with jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met subsequent to the threshold being met.

In an embodiment, the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment from jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold.

In an embodiment, each jackpot increment is divided amongst jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold and once a jackpot prize reaches the threshold, increments intended for the jackpot which has reached the threshold are provided to a designated one or more of the one or more other jackpot prizes.

In an eighth aspect, the invention provides a gaming system comprising:

a jackpot controller;

a plurality of jackpot meters storing respective ones of a plurality of jackpot prizes; and

a plurality of gaming devices in data communication with the jackpot controller and arranged to communicate jackpot increments to the jackpot controller,

the jackpot controller arranged to:

determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and

update the jackpot meters by incrementing one or more of the other jackpot prizes with jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met subsequent to the threshold being met.

In an embodiment, the jackpot controller is arranged to update the jackpot meters by selectively incrementing one of the one or more other jackpot prizes with each jackpot increment.

In an embodiment, selectively incrementing the jackpot prizes comprises randomly determining which of the jackpot prizes to increment from jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold.

In an embodiment, each jackpot increment is divided amongst jackpot prizes which have not reached the threshold and once a jackpot prize reaches the threshold, increments intended for the jackpot which has reached the threshold are provided to a designated one or more of the one or more other jackpot prizes.

In a ninth aspect, the invention provides a jackpot controller comprising:

a network interface via which the jackpot controller receives jackpot increments;

a plurality of jackpot meters storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes; and

an increment processor arranged to process each received jackpot increment, determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, and increment one or more of the other jackpot prizes with any jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met.

In a tenth aspect, the invention provides a game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to conduct a game, the game controller comprising a memory storing jackpot values for respective ones of a plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, and being arranged to conduct a game, obtain jackpot increments based on play of the game, determine that a threshold has been reached in respect of one of plurality of separate progressive jackpot prizes, and increment one or more of the other jackpot prizes with any jackpot increments intended for the jackpot prize in respect of which a threshold has been met.

In an eleventh aspect the invention provides computer program code which when executed implements the above method.

In a twelfth aspect the invention provides a tangible computer readable medium comprising the computer program code.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

An exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a gaming system with a jackpot game controller;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a stand alone gaming machine;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the functional components of a gaming machine;

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of the functional components of a memory;

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a network gaming system;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a jackpot game controller;

FIG. 7 is a functional block diagram of a jackpot game controller;

FIG. 8 is a flow chart of an embodiment;

FIG. 9 is a functional block diagram of a gaming device in the form of a standalone gaming machine;

FIG. 10 is a functional block diagram of a jackpot game controller of a further embodiment; and

FIG. 11 is a flow chart of another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention may be implemented in a number of forms, for example in a stand alone form on a specific gaming device, such as an electronic gaming machine, to selectively increment jackpot values of a plurality of progressive jackpot prizes that can be won by play of that device or in a jackpot controller connected to a plurality of gaming devices such that any one of the gaming devices can win one of the progressive jackpot prizes.

Overview of Exemplary Gaming System with a Jackpot Controller

FIG. 1 shows an exemplary gaming system 1 where a jackpot game controller 150 is in data communication over a network 2, such as an Ethernet, with a bank of five gaming devices in the form of standalone gaming machines 10 to receive jackpot increments and determine whether to make a jackpot award to one of the gaming machines

Gaming Devices

Gaming devices capable of participating in the method of gaming of the embodiment can take any suitable form including stand alone gaming machines and server based gaming terminals.

A gaming device in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which are displayed representations of a game 16 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. The mid-trim 20 also houses a credit input mechanism 24 which in this example includes a coin input chute 24A and a bill collector 24B. Other credit input mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. Other gaming machines may be configured for ticket in that they have a ticket reader for reading tickets having a value and crediting the player based on the face value of the ticker. A player marketing module (not shown) having a reading device may also be provided for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. The player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device. In some embodiments, the player marketing module may provide an additional credit mechanism, either by transferring credits to the gaming machine from credits stored on the player tracking device or by transferring credits from a player account in data communication with the player marketing module.

A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on a front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the front panel 29 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 10.

The display 14 shown in FIG. 2 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. The top box 26 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different type.

FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of operative components of a typical gaming machine which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine of FIG. 2.

The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102 mounted on a circuit board. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with the processor 102. Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103.

The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with peripheral devices of the gaming machine 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers.

In the example shown in FIG. 3, a player interface 120 includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 including one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or buttons 107 (which provide a game play mechanism), a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted as required for the specific implementation. For example, while buttons or touch screens are typically used in gaming machines to allow a player to place a wager and initiate a play of a game any input device that enables the player to input game play instructions may be used.

In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a bonus controller, central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the bonus controller, central controller, server or database. In embodiments employing a player marketing module, communications over a network may be via player marketing module—i.e. the player marketing module may be in data communication with one or more of the above devices and communicate with it on behalf of the gaming machine.

FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.

It is also possible for the operative components of the gaming machine 100 to be distributed, for example input/output devices 106,107,108,109,110,111 to be provided remotely from the game controller 101.

In a client server architecture a gaming device is provided by a gaming client and game server (and optionally other gaming network components). A gaming client has a similar outward appearance to gaming machine 10 but the game server implements most or all of the game and as such acts as the game controller while the terminal operated by the player essentially provides only the player interface. The gaming terminal receives player instructions, pass these to the game server which will process them and return game play outcomes to the gaming machine for display. Further details of a client/server gaming architecture can be found in WO 2006/052213 and PCT/SE2006/000559, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. In such an embodiment, a jackpot game controller can be provided, for example, by a dedicated server in data communication with the game server.

FIG. 5 shows that a gaming device may be connected within a gaming network 200 which provides additional and/or enhanced functionality. The gaming network 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in FIG. 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 provide a player operable interface and may be the same as the gaming machines 10,100 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in FIG. 5, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged.

One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. For example, the displays 204 may be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material. In an embodiment, a jackpot controller can be provided for a bank of machines as illustrated in FIG. 1.

The jackpot game controller can be provided within such a network 200 by jackpot server 207, such that the jackpot game server may implement a jackpot game for a plurality of different banks of gaming machines rather than a specific jackpot controller being provide for each bank of gaming machines. Alternatively, there may be a single jackpot for the network managed by the jackpot server.

A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided.

Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming network 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.

The gaming network 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements may be run as a single “engine” on one server or a separate server may be provided. For example, the game server 205 could run a random generator engine. Alternatively, a separate random number generator server could be provided.

FIG. 9 is a functional block diagram of a gaming device in the form of a stand alone gaming machine. The gaming device 900 may be the same or different to gaming machine 10,100 described above. In FIG. 9, the processor 930 of game controller 920 is shown implementing a number of modules based on program code and data stored in memory 940. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that various of the modules could be implemented in some other way, for example by a dedicated circuit. Several features are shown in dotted lines in FIG. 9 to indicate that they need not be present in all embodiments, and indeed jackpot meter data 942,943 is for standalone embodiments which are described below.

The gaming device 900 includes a player interface 910 having a display 911 for displaying game outcomes to a player and a game play mechanism 912 including input devices such as touch screen or buttons to enable the player to interact with the game by placing wagers and entering any other instructions required to play the game. Game play mechanism 912 also enables the player to interact with the game to learn game rules etc. The player interface 910 includes a credit mechanism 913 allowing the player to input credit into the gaming device 900 and/or be paid out any winnings or remaining credit. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that other components will be present in a gaming device 900 such as those described in relation to FIGS. 2 to 4 above. The memory 940 includes program code for implementing a game including game rule data 941 for implementing the rules of a game.

The processor 930 when executing the program code stored in memory 940 is arranged to generate outcomes of the game in response to the operation of the game play mechanism 912. The outcomes are generated with the outcome generator 931. The outcome evaluator 932 evaluates the game outcomes that are generated based on the wager specified with the game play mechanism 912 and updates credit data 942 which stores a credit meter and a win meter for the game.

The game that is played, may be for example, a spinning reel type game where a player places a wager by selecting how many lines are played in each game and an amount to bet per line. Such win lines are typically formed by a combination of symbol display positions, one from each reel, the symbol display positions being located relative to one another such that they form a line.

In many games, the player may win in addition to winning combinations which occur on the selected win lines for example, “scatter” pays are awarded independently of a players selection of pay lines and are an inherent part of the evaluation of the generated outcome.

Persons skilled in the art, will appreciate that in other embodiments, an evaluation entitlement may be based on a number of reels to play such as in games are marketed under the trade name “Reel Power” by Aristocrat Leisure Industries Pty Ltd. The selection of the reel means that each displayed symbol of the reel can be substituted for a symbol at one or more designated display positions. In other words, all symbols displayed at symbol display positions corresponding to a selected reel can be used to form symbol combinations with symbols displayed at a designated, symbol display positions of the other reels. For example, if there are five reels and three symbol display positions for each reel such that the symbol display positions comprise three rows of five symbol display positions, the symbols displayed in the centre row are used for non-selected reels. As a result, the total number of ways to win is determined by multiplying the number of active display positions of each reel, the active display positions being all display positions of each selected reel and the designated display position of the non-selected reels. As a result for five reels and fifteen display positions there are 243 ways to win.

Once the player places a bet, the outcome generator selects symbols for each reel using stop positions for each reel determined by random selection by the random number generator 934 these are evaluated by outcome evaluator against a pay table which forms part of game rule data.

The processor 930 also implements a jackpot module 933 which has a jackpot incrementer 933A which determines the jackpot increment which is to apply based on the wager (e.g. a fixed percentage of the amount wagered), and in the embodiment, communicates the jackpot increment via communication interface 950 to the jackpot game controller. The jackpot module 933 also has a jackpot award handler 933B which is arranged to communicate with the jackpot controller 150 when play of the gaming device 900 results in award of a jackpot. In this respect, in the illustrated embodiment, jackpot module has a jackpot awarder 932A. Each time the player plays the game, the jackpot awarder 933C conducts a random trial using random number generator 934 with a probability of success based on the size of the jackpot increment and a base jackpot probability stored in game rule data 941. If the jackpot awarder 933C wins a jackpot, award handler 933B communicates with the jackpot controller 150 that the award has been made and awaits confirmation and the amount one. Award handler 933B may also take other actions, for example to initiate an attendant call for payment of a large jackpot.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that jackpots may be awarded in other ways by the game controller 920, or in other embodiments be awarded by the jackpot controller. For example, the above described random trials could be conducted at the jackpot controller.

Jackpot Game Controller and its Operation within the Gaming System

Referring to FIG. 6 there is shown further detail of the jackpot game controller 150. From FIG. 6 it will be apparent that jackpot game controller 150 is in data communication with a communal display 160 on which current values of the jackpot prizes can be displayed to the players playing the bank of gaming machines 10 shown in FIG. 1. In other embodiments, the gaming outcomes could be displayed on a top box of the individual gaming machines 10, rather than being displayed on a communal display, or in addition to such a display.

Referring to FIG. 6, the constitution of the jackpot game controller 150 is similar to that of the gaming device illustrated in relation to FIGS. 2 to 4 and 9 in that it has a processor 151 arranged to implement the jackpot game based on program code stored in memory 152 and a display driver 154 for driving the display 160 to show the jackpot game outcome. The jackpot game controller 150 also includes a communication interface 153 which is designed to enable the processor 151 to communicate with each of the gaming devices 10 to receive jackpot increments and in relation to any prize award.

Persons skilled in the art will appreciate the above components are the core components for implementing a jackpot game but other components may be present in a jackpot game controller.

FIG. 7 is a functional block diagram of the jackpot gaming controller 150 which shows that the processor 151 implements a number of modules in a similar manner to the processor of the gaming device shown in FIG. 9. The processor executes program code stored in memory 152 to instantiate an increment processor 703 which receives a jackpot increments from the gaming devices 10.

The increment processor 703 then determines which of the jackpot's prizes to increment for each received jackpot increment. In this respect, there are at least two different jackpot prizes and typically three or more jackpot prizes with different names such as “Grand, Major” and “Minor”. For each of these prizes there is a soft meter which keeps and absolute value of the jackpot 711 stored in memory 152. The jackpot display controller 704 determines from these absolute values what actual value of the prize is to be displayed on display 160. In the embodiment, for each increment the random number generator is asked to return a value in the range of 0 to 1 and portions of this range are allocated to different ones of the jackpot such that the increment processor, when it receives the random number generator, response determines which of the jackpot soft meters 711 to increment based on the range to which the returned number belongs. Accordingly, only one of the jackpot soft meters is incremented for each increment. As a result, there is an increased likelihood in this embodiment that one of the soft meters will increase to a value such that the displayed value by the jackpot display controller 704 will increase on the display because the entirety of increment is being made to one of the jackpots under the selective control of the increment processor 704.

The probabilities of particular jackpot prizes being incremented are stored as increment probability data 712 and memory 152. These probabilities are chosen so that over time, the relative size of the jackpots will be controlled relative to a desired range. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that as in existing jackpots, the embodiment could be employed in accordance with start up values for each jackpot, including hidden pools where portions of the increment are syphoned to a start up pool for when the jackpot is won.

In an alternative embodiment rather than the random incrementation of the jackpot values, a sequence of increments may be stored in memory 152 which give the appearance of randomly apportioning the increments amongst the jackpot prizes but which otherwise achieve the desired effect of increasing the rate at which at least one prize value is displayed as incrementing because it receives all of the increment.

FIG. 7 shows that the jackpot controller includes a jackpot awarder 706 which handles requests received from gaming devices 900 for award of a jackpot. When the jackpot awarder 706 receives such a request it locks the existing value of the jackpot in respect of which the award is to be made and starts a new soft meter for that jackpot. The jackpot awarder 706 then communicates the amount won to the relevant gaming device by a data communication interface 153.

In an alternative embodiment, the jackpot awarder 706 may conduct a random trial for each received increment to determined whether to award a jackpot in respect of the increment as described generally above.

FIG. 9, also shows how the gaming device 900 is modified to allow for the possibility of the game being played on a stand alone gaming machine. In this embodiment the jackpot soft meter 942 is stored in the memory 940 of the gaming device. In such embodiments, rather than the jackpot module 933 communicating the increments to the central jackpot controller, the jackpot incrementer 933A increments jackpot soft meter data and also updates display 911 to show the current values of the stand alone jackpots which apply to the gaming device 900. In such an embodiment, the jackpot awarder 933C can act as above to randomly conduct a trial using RNG 934 to determine whether to award a jackpot. In an alternative embodiment the jackpot awarder 933C may be part of the outcome evaluator 932 in the sense that one of the outcomes of the game may be a particular symbol combination which corresponds to award of a respective one of the jackpots which is evaluated as having occurred.

In this embodiment, the award handler 933B may be required to initiate a communication with an attendant in respect of the jackpot if this requires a large payout. A person skilled in the art will appreciate other variations which can be made to the gaming device. Otherwise, the jackpots are incremented in the same manner as described above except that these functions are provided by the jackpot module 933 rather than the increment processor 703.

The method 800 of the embodiment is summarised in FIG. 8 and involves conducting 810 a jackpot with plural jackpot prizes, receiving 820 an increment and selectively incrementing 830 a jackpot prize.

In a further embodiment illustrated in FIG. 10, the increment processor 1003 may be arranged to determine whether a threshold value 1012 of a prize has been reached. In such embodiments, the increment processor 1003 selectively causes one or more others of the plurality of prize values to increment once one of the jackpots reaches a particular value based on increment rules 1013. For example, there may be three prizes having a $500 limit, a $1000 limit and a $5000 limit. In one embodiment, the increments which are received by the increment processor 1003 are normally split in accordance with a desired probability ratio amongst the three jackpot prizes. However, when one of the prizes reaches the threshold 1012 stored in memory 152, the increment processor 1003 no longer increments and any further increments the jackpot and the increments are split between the other jackpots in accordance with a desired ratio. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that this embodiment can be combined with the first embodiment where the random number generator is employed such that the jackpot which is incremented is selected randomly until it reaches a particular threshold value after which selections are made randomly as to which of the other prize values to increment.

In a further variation of this embodiment, the increment rules 1013 designate a specific one of the jackpot prizes which is to receive increments intended for a jackpot prize in respect of which a jackpot prize has been received. For example, the maximum allowable value of any of the jackpots may be $1199. When any one of the jackpots reaches this value, it stays statics and another one of the jackpots is incremented. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the jackpot may be designated in a number of ways. For example, an ordering or ranking of the jackpots may be applied such that, for example, the jackpot immediately above or below in the ranking will receive the increments intended for the jackpot in respect of which a threshold has been met. In another example, the increments may be provided to the jackpot which has the lowest or highest current jackpot value. Depending on the embodiment, this decision could be made once or many times. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that such embodiments could also be implemented in a standalone gaming device in an analogous manner. In one example, there may be Major, Maxi and Mini jackpots. Once the Major jackpot reaches the threshold then one or other of the Maxi or Mini jackpots is selected to receive the jackpot increments intended for the Major jackpot—for example, the Maxi jackpot. The Maxi jackpot then increments by its own normal rate of progression plus the rate of incrementation for the Major jackpot.

On example of such a method 1100 is shown in FIG. 11, where the method involves conducting 1110 a jackpot with a plurality of jackpot prizes, receiving a jackpot increment 1120, and determining a jackpot prize which should be incremented 1130. The method determines 1135 whether the intended increment recipient has reached a threshold. Where the intended jackpot has not reached a threshold, it is incremented 1140. Where the intended jackpot has reached a threshold, the increment is provided to another jackpot prize 1150. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that various of the above steps may be altered. For example, a jackpot could be excluded as a potential increment recipient once it reaches a threshold.

Further aspects of the above methods will be apparent from the above description of the gaming system. It will be appreciated that at least part of the method will be implemented digitally by a processor. Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that the method could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a tangible computer readable storage medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by transmitting it from a server). Persons skilled in the art, will appreciate that program code provides a series of instructions executable by the processor.

Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server. That is a processor may be provided by any suitable logic circuitry for receiving inputs, processing them in accordance with instructions stored in memory and generating outputs (for example on the display). Such processors are sometimes also referred to as central processing units (CPUs). Most processors are general purpose units, however, it is also know to provide a specific purpose processor, for example, an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or a field programmable gate array (FPGA).

It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, in particular it will be apparent that certain features of embodiments of the invention can be employed to form further embodiments.

For example, the jackpot game controller 150 is shown in FIG. 1 as a separate entity to the gaming devices 10. In an alternative embodiment, it could be provided by one of the gaming devices incorporating a server module arranged to implement the jackpot game controller in the manner described in Australian patent application 2008205413 filed 13 Aug. 2008.

It is to be understood that, if any prior art is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the prior art forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art in any country.

In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.