Title:
Amusement gaming machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention is directed to a system for playing bingo. The system comprises a computer readable medium having a set of computer readable instructions that may include instructions for determining whether sufficient credits exist to continue play, providing a set of unique bingo cards with each unique card having a plurality of card numbers, displaying at least one unique bingo card to the player, generating an initial set of called numbers having a population of numbers less than those on the bingo card winning pattern, comparing each called number with a card number, determining whether an intermediate prize should be awarded according to the initial set of called numbers and the bingo card, selecting additional called numbers from a set of remaining called numbers until a winning pattern is determined. The set of computer readable instructions may also include instructions for determining whether multiple players are playing before allowing game play to continue.



Inventors:
Waters, David B. (Piedmont, SC, US)
Application Number:
10/852046
Publication Date:
11/24/2005
Filing Date:
05/24/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24; G07F17/32; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WERT, JOSHUA P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Burr Forman LLP (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A system for playing bingo comprising: a computer readable medium; a set of called numbers representing a finite number of possible card numbers in communication with said computer readable medium; and, a set of computer readable instructions embodied within said computer readable medium for providing at least one unique bingo card having a plurality of card numbers, generating an initial set of called numbers having a population of numbers less than those on the bingo card, comparing each called number of the initial set of called numbers with each card number, determining whether an intermediate prize should be awarded according to said initial set of called numbers and said bingo card, and, selecting additional called numbers from a set of remaining called numbers until a winning pattern is determined on said at least one unique bingo card.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein said winning pattern is a black-out pattern.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein said set of computer readable instructions for providing at least one unique bingo card includes providing said bingo card upon a determination that sufficient credits exist for play.

4. The system of claim 3 wherein said computer readable instructions include instructions for debiting said credits a predetermined amount to be credited to a wide area progressive prize.

5. The system of claim 3 including: an actuator; and, said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for initiating a comparison of each called number of said initial set of called numbers with said card numbers upon a first actuation of said actuator.

6. The system of claim 5 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for initiating the selection of additional called numbers until a winning pattern is determined upon a second actuation of said actuator.

7. The system of claim 6 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for awarding a prize to said player upon a third actuation of said actuator.

8. The system of claim 1 wherein the step of providing at least one unique bingo card includes the step of randomly generating a unique bingo card.

9. The system of claim 1 where the step of providing at least one unique bingo card includes the step of selecting a unique bingo card from a pre-existing set of unique bingo cards.

10. The system of claim 1 including: a video display having award indicators in communication with said computer readable medium; and, said set of computer readable instructions include instructions to activate said award indicators representing that said player has won a prize.

11. The system of claim 10 wherein said award indicators are a set of reels displayed on said video display that are spun and stopped so that they represent said determination that the player has won a prize.

12. The system of claim 10 wherein said computer readable instructions include instructions for receiving award indicator modification information from a remote terminal and modifying said award indicators according to said modification information.

13. The system of claim 1 including: a plurality of mechanical reels in communication with said computer readable medium; and, said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for spinning said mechanical reels and stopping said mechanical reels so that they represent said determination that the player has won a prize.

14. The system of claim 1 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for determining whether multiple players are playing before allowing game play to continue.

15. The system of claim 1 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for determining whether said intermediate prize is a wide area progressive prize.

16. A system for playing bingo comprising: a central computer readable medium; a plurality of game terminals having terminal computer readable medium in communications with said central computer readable medium; and a set of computer readable central instruction embodied in said central computer readable medium for receiving a request to play from at least one game terminal, providing at least one unique bingo card having a plurality of card numbers for each game terminal requesting play, generating an initial set of called numbers, comparing each called number with each bingo card associated with each of said game terminals, determining whether an intermediate prize should be awarded according to said bingo cards and said initial set of called numbers, transmitting an intermediate prize award notification to said game terminal having an associated bingo card resulting in an intermediate prize, selecting additional called numbers from a set of remaining called numbers until a winning pattern is determined on at least one of said bingo cards, and transmitting a winning pattern notification to said game terminal associated with said bingo card having a winning pattern.

17. The system of claim 16 including: an actuator in communication with said game terminal in communication with said computer readable medium; and, said set of computer readable terminal instructions for transmitting a request to play to said central computer readable medium upon actuation of said actuator.

18. The system of claim 16 including: a terminal video display in communication with said terminal computer readable medium; and, said set of compute readable terminal instructions include instructions for receiving an intermediate prize award notification from said set of computer readable central instructions and informing the player that a prize has been awarded via said video display.

19. The system of claim 18 wherein said set of computer readable terminal instructions include instructions for displaying a set of virtual reels on said video display, spinning said set of reels, and stopping said reels so that they indicate whether the player has won a prize.

20. The system of claim 18 wherein said computer readable instructions include instructions for receiving intermediate prize award notification modification information from a remote terminal and modifying said intermediate prize award notification according to said modification instructions.

21. The system of claim 16 including: a plurality of mechanical reels in communication with said terminal computer readable medium; and, said set of computer readable terminal instructions include instructions for spinning said mechanical reels and stopping said mechanical reels so that they indicate whether the player has won a prize.

22. The system of claim 16 wherein said set of computer readable instructions for providing at least one unique bingo card includes providing said bingo card upon a determination that sufficient credits exist for play.

23. A system for playing bingo comprising: a computer readable medium in communication with a server; a display device in communication with said computer readable medium; an actuator in communication with said computer readable medium; and, a set of computer readable instructions embodied within said computer readable medium for providing a unique bingo card, receiving an initial set of called numbers from said server, displaying on said display device said bingo card with said card numbers daubed according to said initial set of called numbers upon a first actuation of said actuator, receiving an intermediate prize notification, and displaying intermediate prize information according to said intermediate prize notification, sending a select next called number request to said server upon a second actuation of said actuator, and awarding a prize upon said third actuation of said actuator.

24. The system of claim 23 including: a plurality of mechanical reels in communication with said computer readable medium; and, said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for spinning said mechanical reels and stopping said mechanical reels so that they indicate whether the player has won a prize.

25. The system of claim 23 wherein said set of computer readable instructions include instructions for displaying a set of virtual reels on said display device, spinning said set of reels, and stopping said reels so that they indicate whether the player has won a prize.

26. The system of claim 23 wherein said computer readable instructions include instructions for receiving intermediate prize notification modification information from a remote terminal and modifying said intermediate prize award notification according to said modification instructions.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to an amusement gaming machine and more specifically a system for enhancing the play of bingo type games.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The game of bingo is well-known. Traditionally, this game is played with a bingo card having printed numbers in a five-by-five matrix with B I N G O printed across the top of each of the five columns. The center of the matrix may be considered a FREE space and does not require a number to be called to cross out, or daub, the FREE location. When numbers are called, such as B-13, the number 13 would be marked, or daubed, to show that the called number exists on that Bingo card. The selection of called numbers is traditionally provided in the form of a finite number of bingo balls that are shuffled and randomly selected from a box, cage, or mixer. Bingo balls are selected and numbers are called until a bingo player has his or her bingo card daubed in a winning pattern. A winning pattern, represented by declaring BINGO, can be a row, column, each corner, an X-pattern, black-out pattern, or any other pattern. A black-out pattern represents the condition where all of the numbers on the card have been called and are daubed. Typically, multiple players play the same game and a winner is declared when the first player realizes a winning pattern.

With the advent of modern technology, particularly computers, bingo has matured into what has been referred to as a Class II game in the gaming field. With Class II games, prizes are generally rewarded from funds deposited by the bingo player to play the game. Further, it is advantageous that for each bingo game played, at least one prize winner should exist for each game. Further, it is advantageous to have intermediate prizes so that several prizes are awarded during play. Further, it is advantageous for a bingo game system to have a progressive prize system so that a winner can play an aggregated prize collection source.

The introduction of Class II gaming has also resulted in bingo players being able to realize the benefits and enjoyment of playing computer enhanced bingo. Particularly the use of high definition graphics allows for a more exciting and enjoyable play.

Accordingly, to provide the advantages described herein, it is an object of this invention to provide for a computer enhanced bingo game allowing multiple players to play against each other while insuring a winner.

It is another object of this invention to provide a computer enhanced bingo game having intermediate prizes and progressive prizes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The objectives of this invention are realized by providing a system for playing bingo comprising, a computer readable medium, a set of called numbers representing a finite number of possible card numbers in communication with the computer readable medium; and, a set of computer readable instructions embodied within the computer readable medium for providing at least one unique bingo card having a plurality of card numbers, generating an initial set of called numbers having a population of numbers less than those on the bingo card, comparing each called number of the initial set of called numbers with each card number, determining whether an intermediate prize should be awarded according to the initial set of called numbers and the bingo card, and, selecting additional called numbers from a set of remaining called numbers until a winning pattern is determined on the at least one unique bingo card. The winning pattern can be a black-out pattern. The set of computer readable instructions can providing the bingo card upon a determination that sufficient credits exist for play and can debit the player credits a predetermined amount to be credited to a wide area progressive prize.

The system can include an actuator and the set of computer readable instructions include instructions for initiating a comparison of each called number of the initial set of called numbers with the card numbers upon a first actuation of the actuator, initiating the selection of additional called numbers until a winning pattern is determined upon a second actuation of the actuator, and awarding a prize to the player upon a third actuation of the actuator.

The step of providing at least one unique bingo card can include the step of randomly generating a unique bingo card or selecting a unique bingo card from a pre-existing set of unique bingo cards.

The system can include a video display having award indicators in communication with the computer readable medium and the set of computer readable instructions include instructions to activate the award indicators representing that the player has won a prize. The award indicators can be set of reels displayed on the video display that are spun and stopped so that they represent the determination that the player has won a prize. The computer readable instructions can include instructions for receiving award indicator modification information from a remote terminal and modifying the award indicators according to the modification information. The system can include a plurality of mechanical reels in communication with the computer readable medium and the set of computer readable instructions include instructions for spinning the mechanical reels and stopping the mechanical reels so that they represent the determination that the player has won a prize. The system can include instructions for determining whether multiple players are playing before allowing game play to continue and instructions for determining whether the intermediate prize is a wide area progressive prize.

The system can also include a central computer readable medium, a plurality of game terminals having terminal computer readable medium in communications with the central computer readable medium, and a set of computer readable central instruction embodied in the central computer readable medium for receiving a request to play from at least one game terminal, providing at least one unique bingo card having a plurality of card numbers for each game terminal requesting play, generating an initial set of called numbers, comparing each called number with each bingo card associated with each of the game terminals, determining whether an intermediate prize should be awarded according to the bingo cards and the initial set of called numbers, transmitting an intermediate prize award notification to the game terminal having an associated bingo card resulting in an intermediate prize, selecting additional called numbers from a set of remaining called numbers until a winning pattern is determined on at least one of the bingo cards, and transmitting a winning pattern notification to the game terminal associated with the bingo card having a winning pattern.

An actuator can be in communication with the game terminal and the computer readable medium so and the set of computer readable terminal instructions for transmitting a request to play to the central computer readable medium upon actuation of the actuator can be included. A terminal video display can be in communication with the terminal computer readable medium and the set of compute readable terminal instructions include instructions for receiving an intermediate prize award notification from the set of computer readable central instructions and informing the player that a prize has been awarded via the video display.

The system can include a computer readable medium in communication with a server, a display device in communication with the computer readable medium, an actuator in communication with the computer readable medium, and a set of computer readable instructions embodied within the computer readable medium for providing a unique bingo card, receiving an initial set of called numbers from the server, displaying on the display device the bingo card with the card numbers daubed according to the initial set of called numbers upon a first actuation of the actuator, receiving an intermediate prize notification, and displaying intermediate prize information according to the intermediate prize notification, sending a select next called number request to the server upon a second actuation of the actuator, and awarding a prize upon the third actuation of the actuator.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

This invention is described with references to the following drawings:

FIG. 1A is a flowchart of the invention;

FIG. 1B is a continuation of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2 is a schematic of the player interface; and,

FIG. 3 is a schematic of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The detailed description that follows may be presented in terms of program procedures executed on a computer or network of computers. These procedural descriptions are representations used by those skilled in the art to most effectively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art. These procedures herein described are generally a self-consistent sequence of steps leading to a desired result. These steps require physical manipulations of physical quantities such as electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, or otherwise manipulated by a set of computer readable instructions embodied in a computer readable medium that is designed to perform a specific task or tasks. Actual computer or executable code or computer readable code may be contained within one file or one storage medium but may also span several computers or storage mediums. The term “host” and “server” may be hardware, software, or a combination of hardware and software that provides the functionality described herein.

The present invention is described below with reference to flowchart illustrations of methods, apparatus (“systems”) and computer program products according to the invention. It will be understood that each block or step of a flowchart illustration can be implemented by a set of computer readable instructions or code. These computer readable instructions may be loaded onto a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine such that the instructions will execute on a computer or other data processing apparatus to create a means for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks.

These computer readable instructions may also be stored in a computer readable medium that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in a computer readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instruction means that implement the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks. Computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer executed process such that the instructions are executed on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide steps for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks. Accordingly, elements of the flowchart support combinations of means for performing the special functions, combination of steps for performing the specified functions and program instruction means for performing the specified functions. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations can be implemented by special purpose hardware based computer systems that perform the specified functions, or steps, or combinations of special purpose hardware or computer instructions. The term media is used to include audio, video, animation or any other form audio or visual information. The present invention is now described more fully herein with reference to the drawings in which the preferred embodiment of the invention is shown. This invention may, however, be embodied any many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiment set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.

Referring to FIG. 1, the play of the game is described in more detail. As a threshold matter, one embodiment of the invention includes determination as to whether the player has sufficient credits to begin play. If the player is without sufficient credits, the player is notified that there are insufficient credits and the player may provide additional credits if the player wants to play. Otherwise, game play cannot continue. In step 10, a virtual bingo card is provided for the player to play. In the preferred embodiment, the virtual card represents a 5×5 matrix without the FREE location, thereby providing 25 number locations on the card. To generate a virtual bingo card in the preferred embodiment, computer readable instructions generate a two-dimensional matrix representing a bingo card. Once a card is selected, game play is initiated at step 28. The player may begin game play by pressing an actuator, such as a daub button or may press a play button or simply provide sufficient credits. A daub button may be an actual button on a video game console that is physically actuated or a touch screen command that appears on the display screen and allows the user to actuate the daub button by merely tapping the screen. In an alternative embodiment the daub button may not be a button at all, rather it may be a voice command or other player input that achieves the same result as actuating a daub button. After initiating game play at step 12, a bingo card must be provided to the player. In one embodiment, shown generally as A, the virtual bingo card is randomly generated by the computer readable instructions in step 14. Determination is made at step 16 as to whether the virtual bingo card is unique. If it is, the card is provided to the player and the game play continues. Otherwise, the process returns to step 14. In embodiment B, a unique set of bingo cards is generated at step 18. When a player initiates play, a card is selected from the set at step 20 and the card is removed from the set at step 22 to provide a unique bingo card to the player. In an embodiment, shown generally as C, the cards can be generated randomly as in embodiment A or pulled from a set as in embodiment B and then displayed to the player. The player can then either select the card to play, or seek an additional card to play. In the event that the player selects the next card, such as touching the card on the touch screen, the next card from the set is displayed and the player is allowed to determine if he wishes to play that card. In this embodiment, it is also possible to display a plurality of cards on the screen to let the player display from the list to allow the game to move forward. Next, the invention may determine if there are a sufficient number of players playing the game at step 30 so as to continue the game. In one embodiment, multiple players are necessary to allow the players to play against each other as embodiment does not allow an individual to play against a computer alone. Therefore, this embodiment waits until a sufficient number of players join. If there are not a sufficient number of players after a predetermined period of time, this embodiment times out at step 32 and the game ends at step 34. Once a sufficient number of players are present, however, the invention continues. In a preferred embodiment, 24 unique called numbers are randomly generated at step 36. It should be noted that there cannot be a bingo winner at this stage since only 24 of the 25 numbers have been selected, no FREE space is used, and the winning pattern is black-out. The black-out pattern assures that only after a certain number of bingo numbers have been called that a winner can be declared. Please note that in alternative embodiments alternative winning patterns may be used that are not black-out bingo patterns. When the winning pattern is not the black-out pattern, the initial set of called numbers should be at least one less than the number of card numbers so that there will be no bingo winner at this stage. Since each card contains 25 spaces, selecting 24 balls at step 36 insures that no player could have the winning black-out pattern. The called 24 numbers are then compared to the virtual bingo cards of each player in the game at step 38. For each match found, that number on the virtual bingo card is marked, or daubed, at step 40. While there is no bingo winner at this stage, the invention can provide intermediate prizes that can be awarded based on the 24 numbers called. The determination of intermediate prizes is made at step 42. If an intermediate prize exists, it is awarded at step 44. A video display, or mechanical reels, can have prize indicators to display to the player representation that the player has won an intermediate prize or Bingo. Indicators can include virtual reels, messages, lights, sounds, or other indicator representing the award or winning of a prize. Intermediate prizes can be awarded when some predetermined pattern such as those shown below, other than the bingo winning pattern of black-out. embedded image

It is understood that any pattern can be used for intermediate prizes and such patterns are not limited to those used for illustrative purposes, but can be any pattern of two or more card numbers.

After the determination of intermediate prizes, the player initiates the calling of the next, or the 25th number in the preferred embodiment, at step 46 by actuating the daub button. This number is then compared to the virtual bingo card of each player at step 48 and a determination is made as to whether any player has a black-out winning pattern at step 50. If there is a no winning Bingo pattern, a determination as to whether more balls exist to call is made at step 52. If so, the invention returns to step 46 to select another number to call. If the Bingo black-out pattern is determined, the Bingo winner is declared at step 56 and that specific game is concluded.

Once the Bingo winner is declared at step 56, the player can accept the award at step 58 by activating the daub button or activator. If the award is accepted, the prize is awarded at step 60 and the player is declared a winner and the game ends. If the player does not accept the award, the next number from the called number set is selected and the game continues. In one embodiment, the player has a predetermined period of time to accept the award until the game continues. The declared Bingo will not be awarded the prize if the player “sleeps the Bingo.” “Sleeping the Bingo” is a term used in traditional bingo to describe when a player has Bingo, but does not so indicate such within the predetermined period. If a player sleeps the Bingo, the player is removed from the game and the game continues. In one embodiment, however, the last remaining player cannot “Sleep the Bingo” and will be awarded the Bingo prize.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a screen, generally A, showing one bingo game is illustrated. Bingo card 62 is shown with the numbers daubed indicating that they have been matched to one of the bingo ball numbers already called. In addition to displaying the bingo card with the appropriate daubs, other indicators of winnings can be included within the invention. For example, display reel, poker hands, cards, dice, or any other visual representations can be used to indicate winnings. When reels are used, they may be mechanical reels as those in traditional slot machine games, or virtual reels displayed on the display screen. Reels 64a, 64b, and 64c are shown on screen A. In the event that an intermediate prize is awarded, the reels can be aligned to represent the winning of the intermediate prize. The reels can begin spinning when the player initiates game play and can be stopped when the determination of the intermediate prizes are made. Further, when the 25th bingo ball is called, the reels can spin again and can represent whether the player has won the Bingo game or not. Alternatively, the reels can continue to spin until the end of the game and the intermediate prizes won indicated by the reels with the Bingo award made through some other indicator, such as flashing BINGO on the display.

In one embodiment, a help button 66 can be used to display instructions about the game or to signal staff members that can assist a player. Pay Table button 68, can exist and can display the intermediate prizes that are available and the representative symbol combinations for the reels. Further, a Bet Max button 70 can be included to allow a player to bet the maximum bet per game for both the bingo game and the intermediate prize portion of the game. A Bet One button 72 can be included to allow a player to bet one credit on the bingo game and the intermediate slot game. A daub button 74 is shown as described herein.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the operation of multiple units over a network is shown. Server 84a communicates with game terminal 80a via hub 82a to operate the game on game terminal 80a. Server 84a contains the bingo cards that are sent to game terminal 80a for the player to play Bingo. The server also controls the playing of the bingo game including calling bingo numbers. The initial call of numbers comes from the server through the hub to the game terminal and likewise all additional numbers that are called travel the same path. Remote terminal 86 is connected to server 84a and 84b through network connection 88. Remote terminal 86 can be used to remotely modify the game play occurring at any of multiple locations represented as D and E. For example, if a payout table needs to be updated on all the game terminals in operation, it is far easier to update them from a remote terminal to all servers over a wide-area network that connect to all game terminals individually. Additionally, the games display representations and award or prize indicators be changed from remote terminal 86 so that, for example, terminal 80a can be quickly and remotely converted from a reel display to poker display without having to travel to the terminal's physical location. Further, it is advantageous to have multiple servers controlling multiple games connected over a wide-area network. This is advantageous in that it allows for progressive jackpots to exist on each individual game terminal. Progressive jackpots take a predetermined amount of all money or credits wagered on each individual game terminal and combine it in a central progressive jackpot which is awarded on the happening of a predetermined event on a game terminal. The more game terminals connected to the progressive jackpot, obviously, the higher the potential progressive jackpot. By networking multiple servers in multiple locations, it is possible to connect thousands of game terminals at many different locations to achieve a higher progressive jackpot. These progressive jackpots are very desirable in their attractiveness to the players of the game terminals. The players of the games are attracted to the opportunity to win a prize in the hundreds of thousands of dollars on a simple one dollar wager.

Although the foregoing invention has been described in some detail for purposes of clarity of understanding, it will be apparent that certain changes and modifications may be practiced within the scope of the appended claims.