Interactive remote wagered competition
Kind Code:

Secure skilled wagered competition between two or more remotely located players is provided by the instant gateway. The players register with the system, deposit funds, agree on rules for the competition, and engage in the competition; it is the winner's responsibility to forward proof of the win to receive the agreed wager.

Banton, Jeffrey A. (Jersey City, NJ, US)
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BRADLEY N. RUBEN (Bala Cynwyd, PA, US)
What is claimed is:

1. A method for providing at least two users with secure skilled wagering on a game remotely-played from each other, comprising: A. a first user and a second user registering with the host system; B. the first user and second user arranging a game with each other through an electronic game device; C. the first and second users agreeing a wager for the game on the host; D. a winner of the first and second users communicating to the host the results of the game and proof of the win; E. the winner receiving confirmation from the host of the win; and F. the winner receiving the agreed wager.

2. A method for providing at least two users with secure skilled wagering on a game remotely-played, comprising: A. a first user registering with the host system; B. the first user arranging a game with a second user through an electronic game device; C. the first and second users agreeing a wager for the game on the host; D. a loser of the first and second player receiving form the host the reported results of the game; and F. the loser losing wager funds.

3. The system of claim 1 or 2, wherein a user communicates to the host through a personal computer or the electronic game device.

4. A host system for allowing multiple users to securely wager on a game of skill separately played against each other, comprising: A. registering at least two users with the host, each user providing funds to be held by the host in a user fund account; B. providing for the at least two users to agree a wager on a game via the host; C. sequestering from the wagering users an amount sufficient to cover the wager of each, including independently and optionally a vigorish amount or a fine amount or both; D. receiving from at least one user communication that said user is the winner and proof of the win; E. verifying the proof of the win; F. communicating to the wagering users the proofed result of the game; and G. distributing the sequestered funds as agreed.

5. The host system of claim 4, further comprising providing a delay time after step D for receipt of a communication alleging cheating; examining the allegation; and communicating the examined result.

6. The host system of claim 5, wherein the proofed result communicated is the examined result.

7. The host system of claim 5, wherein a registered user is a player of the game wagered.



This invention relates to methods and systems for allowing individuals in remote locations to arrange on an ad hoc basic to compete electronically and to wager in skilled competition.


On-line gaming generally involves a central on-line location (e.g., a website) acting as a casino at which individuals can participate from remote locations, or a gateway through which remote players can compete directly against (or among) each other. The gaming website may accept funds for purchasing virtual chips (for table games) or tokens (for slots) by accepting fund transfers from credit or debit cards, electronic fund transfer (EFT), a paper check or money order mailed to a physical location, and various other methods known. Communication between the individual users and the website, including the aforementioned funds transfer, can be conducted through a secure internet protocol.

Various third-party game devices, such as PlayStation brand (Sony Corp.) and X-Box brand (Microsoft Corp.), allow remote users to compete against each other via the internet (“Xbox Live” subscription gaming service allows players to compete live over the Internet, including across gaming platforms). Communication between devices can be made secure to prevent modification by DNAS (Dynamic Network Authentication System, proprietary system developed by Sony Corp.). “DNAS” retrieves information about a user's hardware and software for authentication, copy protection, account blocking, system, rules, or game management and other purposes. The information collected does not identify the user personally. A publisher can combine this information with personally identifying information from the publisher's records if the user provides the personally identifying information. Other on-line games, including those available under the ESPN, NBA, and NFL brands, may not require DNAS, or may have their own secure protocol.

What is missing from the art is a way to accommodate those competing in skilled-based interactive game devices in a secure wagering system.


In light of the foregoing, one object of this invention is to provide a method and system for accommodating users of remote interactive game devices in a secure wagering system.

Another object of this invention is to provide accountability to those waging users that the wagered funds are present and will be awarded to the winner.

In summary, from the user's viewpoint, the system provides an accessible on-line site where a user can participate in a skill-based wagered competition by registering to be a participant in a given competition, depositing funds to be wagered, competing via a second system, and providing the results of the competition.

In summary, from the system's viewpoint, there is provided one or more databases to receive registrations from participants, provide participants with the ability to arrange a skill-based wagered competition, accept funds for the wager, verify the results of the competition, and distribute the funds.

Secure skilled wagered competition between two or more remotely located players is provided by the instant gateway. The players register with the system, deposit funds, agree on rules for the competition, and engage in the competition; it is the winner's responsibility to forward proof of the win to receive the agreed wager. A portion of the wager is retained by the gateway as a fee, or the players can agree a third party credit (e.g., a store credit like a gift card). The players and/or wagerers can also agree a third party donation (e.g., 1% of the wager to go to a non-profit).

As used here, the skill-based wagered competition means a real-time game in which players compete and win based on skillful play against each other (or among and between multiple players), as opposed to, for example, a game of chance where all players try to solve the same problem (e.g., all players dealt the same solitaire hand and use “skill” to see who finishes the game first) or where players get different hands and thus start out on uneven bases (e.g., poker). This is not meant to exclude a direct competition game where the players may decide on one player (or one team) having an advantage or disadvantage (e.g., extra man, fewer weapons), because the starting point is not based on chance (as in poker) and the winner is determined by direct competition (skill versus an opponent as opposed to completing a problem).


As mentioned in the Background section, various electronic game devices allow users to communicate over the internet to arrange competitions, such as by directly challenging a person on-line, seeking a challenger, or accepting a challenge. An electronic game device is connected to an electronic display device, either as a separate component, such as a television set or a computer monitor, or an integrated component, or both. The electronic game device is connected to the internet directly (such as through a cable or digital subscriber line) or indirectly (such as via a connection to a computer having an internet connection). Some games can reside on a computer hard drive, and/or on a third party's system, and are played on the internet via the user's computer, without the need for a separate electronic game device: in essence, the user's computer coupled with the game software, residing on the user's and/or the third party computer, is the electronic game device.

In accordance with the present invention, there is a host system and various remote systems, the latter being the individual gaming users and the former being analogous to an on-line casino or the Xbox Live gateway. The users arrange their own competitions either directly through their game devices, or can arrange a competition via a chat room, bulletin board, or other similar well known electronic communication forum provided separately from or provided by the host system. The actual competition takes place electronically separate from the instant host system (such as by using the DNAS protocol or the Xbox Live gateway to directly compete over the Internet).

A user must, of course, communicate to the host system, which is preferably by the internet, and could also be by other methods of electromagnetic contact (such as direct dial-up, cellular communication, RF, IR). The communication is preferably secured, at least when funds or identity or financial information is being transmitted.

A user preferably registers with the host system by providing contact information, a user name (user's often compete via the internet using a fictitious name; and the system can provide entry of both a system user name and the user's fictitious (“street”) name so the user can be identifiable to other players knowing that fictitious name), a password, and must establish a funds account with the host system. Thereafter, the user need merely “log on” with a user name and password. As mentioned above, the user's funds can be transferred by known methods to the host system. (It should be understood that the “host system” and “host” as used herein can include multiple servers at multiple physical locations performing the same or different operations from each other.) The user can also indicate how funds won in a skilled wagered competition are to be paid (e.g., sent by the above-noted methods to a bank account, credited to a credit or debit card, and the like).

After registering, the user arranges the skilled wagered competition. For wagering to occur on the host, those players desiring to wager must also register with the host system. Although it is preferred that all players wager on the game, it is possible that some players will not wager. Thus, when the users set up the skilled wagered competition on the host system, they can be presented with a choice of options, such as winner takes all, top wagerer takes all (in case the winner is not one of the wagerers), winner and second place wagerers have a predefined winning (e.g., 75% for the winner and 25% for second place), and so on. The wagerers must all agree via their own connections to the host system to the terms of the wager. This may require the wagerers to enter a chat room (hosted by the instant host system or by third party, or one of the wagerers) or communicate by e-mail to reach an accord as to the terms of the wager. The instant host system can provide selection screens enabling one or more of the users to indicate preferences; for example, all users in a system-hosted chat room can be provided with an options screen, and the results of those selections sent (via e-mail) or displayed to the users, including an indication when all users have agreed on the terms.

It is preferred that the owner of the host system provide to all user's who register the terms and conditions of use of the host system as a client. Among these is the vigorish taken by the host system (i.e., the house percentage). For example, the vigorish can be 10% of the wager sum, so that if there are four players each contributing $25 to a winner takes all competition, the house will get $10. The host system can be arranged, with the users informed, that the vigorish is taken from the total amount wagered, so that in the foregoing example the winner would receive $90 and the host would get $10, or the users can agree that their accounts with the house will be used for the vigorish, so that in the example the winner will get $100 and each of the users' account will have $2.50 removed. Of course, the host system must first verify that each of the users' account has sufficient funds for the wager, and in the latter case also verify that each account also has sufficient funds for the vigorish. Any user having insufficient funds will be notified; to protect the privacy of that user, the system can notify the other users that the wager has not been established because one or more users has insufficient funds. Once the wager is established, the funds from the users account may be electronically transferred to an electronic trust account from which the winnings and vigorish are paid.

After the wager has been established and accepted, the users compete. The results of the competition are displayed on each user's electronic display device. The winner(s) must, and preferably all other players should, convey the information on that screen to the host. (For example, if the wager allows for first and second place, then first and second place are the “winners.”) The displayed results of the competition can be photographed (e.g., using a digital camera), video taped (e.g., using a tape recorder, and if not digital then saving an electronic version of the screen), and are otherwise transferred electronically to the host (such as by a JPEG or MPEG file). The host can use recognition software to determine the winner (e.g., when the results on the screen is merely a still image showing a listing of users and their scores), or a person can view the information and determine the winner(s). It is preferred that the result information be saved as a “screen shot” by which the display is saved as a graphics file that can be transmitted to the host (e.g., a JPEG or GIF file, or “printed” to a graphics file such as a PDF file). Thus, the winner(s) e-mail or up-load to the host the results of the competition.

To thwart cheating, it is preferred that a human review the results sent to the host. In addition, there is preferably a delay between when the results are confirmed by the host and when the winnings and vigorish are distributed. (Of course, the terms of use of the host may require the vigorish to be paid immediately upon agreement of the competition, in which case only the wagered amounts are reserved for distribution to the winner(s).) This delay, which can be on the order of about 10 to 30 minutes, should be sufficient to allow for one or more user's who may actually be the winner to contest one or more user's claims to having won the competition and provide evidence of their actually having won. Dispute resolution is preferably controlled by the host, which preferably acts as a binding arbitrator (and which protocol would preferably appear in the terms of use).

Each registered user preferably is provided with a separate, and preferably secure, personal account page in which their earnings, deposits, wins, loses, disconnections, cheats, no-shows, and fines are displayed to the user, as well as the ability to view and change personal account information (such as user name, credit card, contact information, and the like). It is preferred, to deter cheating, that user's who cheat be “fined” by the host. Thus, prior to authorizing the wager, besides assuring that each user has, and preferably sequesters, funds sufficient for the wager and the vigorish, the host would also assure that there are funds sufficient for a fine, if necessary. The fine can be transferred (sequestered) from the user's account to an electronic trust account for that game, and if there is no allegation of cheating (such as within the prescribed delay time), then fine is transferred back (refunded) to the user's account.

It should be understood that various modifications to the above-described operation are feasible.

Users can be allowed to create a tournament or other private competition via the host; each user entering the tournament can be issued (such as by e-mail or their personal account page) a unique code in order to wager on a tournament or private competition. Competition can include one-on-one games, and multi-person games such as tournaments and round robins (and variations thereof). Wagering on games can be private, where only those (or some of those) playing can wager, or wagering can be public, where the users playing agree that information about their game, such as the users playing and the results, will be posted to allow non-playing registered users to bet on the game. The playing users may allow the host to post their personal won-loss record on the host system. (Preferably a user will not be allowed to post a submitted won-loss record, or if so then that fact is made known to the wagerers).

The fictitious names of cheaters can be posted by the system, or e-mailed to users desiring such information. User could receive e-mail deliveries to confirm member registration, bets, tickets, no-show, disconnection, winner and loser situations attributed to their account.

The host system is set up conventionally on the internet, with users accessing a web (hypertext transfer protocol) design including a home page and a navigation bar to address different pages for different activities or tasks, such as registering or personal account information, finding a challenge (e.g., search by fictitious name) or chat room activities or function, and for different games (e.g., PS2 or X-Box). Such is known. Preferably Linux brand or Windows brand software with MYSQL data base is used to handle the operation of the system.

In operation, for example, from the user's viewpoint, the user has an electronic game device and a separate internet connection. After having registered with the host (of course, a first time user could register later in the process but, obviously, before the instant game or challenge is played), the user utilizes the protocol of the game device to arrange a game (challenge), accesses the host and finds the other players (which information is available on the electronic display of the electronic game device), agrees on the wager, plays the game, optionally transmits the results of the game (a loser will likely not transmit the results; a winner would always be expected to transmit the result), and has funds transferred into or out of the player's fund account (or, if things are a wash, without fund transfer) and receives an indication of the game results reported to the host (by e-mail or display by the host). If the user suspects cheating, the user communicates such to the host (e.g., via e-mail or through a separate page available on the host website) within the delay time, and the host should confirm receipt of the exception; the host will later transmit via e-mail or display through the user's account page the result of the cheating investigation.

From the host system viewpoint, multiple users are arranging sets of users, the sets are agreeing on wagers for a game, the appropriate funds are sequestered from the users' accounts, at least one of the users reports winning the game and provides proof of the win, the proof is verified (by computer and/or by human), and after a delay time in which an exception (allegation of cheating) can be received, the users' funds accounts are adjusted appropriately and they are notified of the adjustments (or if there is an exception, communicating the exception to the users, resolving the exception, and then communication the result to the users). Of course, there must be at least two players registered with the host. And for an electronic game device having internet access, the user can communicate to the host through the game device. To facilitate transactions, the “receipt” by the winner and the “payment” by the loser(s) can be accounted for electronically until the user desires actual funds from their account.

In the preferred embodiment, the steps of the present invention are embodied in machine-executable instructions. The instructions can be used to cause a general-purpose or special-purpose processor which is programmed with the instructions to perform the steps of the present invention. Alternatively, the steps of the present invention might be performed by specific hardware components that contain hardwired logic for performing the steps, or by any combination of programmed computer components and custom hardware components. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,499,917, 6,415,320, and 5,794,207, are incorporated herein by reference.

Thus, in analogy, the players have an auction-like communication amongst themselves to agree a wager and perhaps some or all of the terms thereof on the host system, place their wagers on the host system, engage in the competition out of the system (or they can wager amongst themselves on some other competition out of the host system), post the results to the host, and the system will review the results and administer the payouts (debits and credits) and, if necessary, arbitrate allegations of cheating. Accordingly, existing technology can be used to

The present invention may be provided as a computer program product which may include a machine-readable medium having stored thereon instructions which may be used to program a computer (or other electronic devices) to perform a process according to the present invention. The machine-readable medium may include, but is not limited to, floppy diskettes, optical disks, CD-ROMs, and magnet-optical disks, ROMs, RAMs, EPROMs, EEPROMs, magnet or optical cards, or other type of media/machine-readable medium suitable for storing electronic instructions. Moreover, the present invention may also be downloaded as a computer program product, wherein the program may be transferred from a remote computer (e.g., a server) to a requesting computer (e.g., a client) by way of data signals embodied in a carrier wave or other propagation medium via a communication link (e.g., a modem or network connection).

The foregoing description is meant to be illustrative and not limiting. Various changes, modifications, and additions may become apparent to the skilled artisan upon a perusal of this specification, and such are meant to be within the scope and spirit of the invention as defined by the claims.