Title:
Gaming cabinet construction and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cabinet for gaming machines and the like includes a rigid tubular metal frame, and a plurality of sheet metal members that are welded to the frame. The cabinet has a strong and lightweight construction that is also very durable. The cabinet may be constructed in a wide range of configurations as required for a particular application.



Inventors:
Mccomb, Ryan D. (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Anderson, Brian M. (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/499939
Publication Date:
03/08/2007
Filing Date:
08/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GALLEGO, ANDRES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A gaming cabinet, comprising: a structural frame including a plurality of metal tubes including opposed side frame portions forming perimeters of the opposite sides of the gaming cabinet, the plurality of metal tubes including at least a pair of horizontally spaced-apart generally upright rear tubes, a pair of generally horizontal upper tubes extending forwardly from upper end portions of the upper tubes, and upper front tubes extending downwardly and forwardly from end portions of the upper tubes, intermediate generally horizontal tubes extending forwardly from lower end portions of the upper front tubes, and generally upright lower front tubes extending downwardly from adjacent forward end portions of the intermediate tubes, the structural frame having a plurality of structural cross members extending between and interconnecting the side frame portions; a plurality of sheet metal outer skins secured to the structural frame to define a primary cabinet structure having an interior space configured to house gaming components and at least one enlarged front opening; a door movably mounted to the primary cabinet structure and moving between a closed position wherein the door closes off the enlarged front opening in the primary cabinet structure, and an open position permitting access to the interior space.

2. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, wherein: at least some of the metal tubes are welded together.

3. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, wherein: at least one of the sheet metal outer skins is welded to the structural frame.

4. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, wherein: at least one of the metal skins is removably secured to the structural frame with mechanical fasteners.

5. The gaming cabinet of claim 4, wherein: the mechanical fasteners comprise threaded fasteners.

6. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, wherein: the door includes an enlarged opening through an upper portion of the door, and a sheet of light-transmitting material extending across at least a substantial portion of the enlarged opening.

7. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, wherein: the metal tubes have a generally quadrilateral cross-sectional shape.

8. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, wherein: the metal tubes are welded together, and the sheet metal outer skins are welded to the structural frame.

9. The gaming cabinet of claim 1, including: upright intermediate front tubes extending downwardly from forward ends of the intermediate horizontal tubes; angled front tubes extending between and interconnecting upper ends of the lower front tubes and lower ends of the intermediate front tubes to thereby form a forwardly-projecting keypad area below the enlarged front opening.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/705,882, filed Aug. 5, 2005, the entire contents of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Various gaming machines for wager type games have been developed. Such games commonly include a cabinet that houses the various components of the game. One type of game includes a plurality of reels that spin, and the player wins a jackpot if the reels stop at particular positions. Other games include a display screen such as a CRT or LCD flat display. The display screen is operably connected to a controller that is programmed to provide the desired game play. In addition to these electrical, mechanical, and electromechanical components, such cabinets may also house bill/coin/token collectors and dispensers, power supply units, cooling fans, and electrical components for connecting the game to an electronic network that may include other gaming machines. The housing may also provide for support and housing of various lights and other displays that contribute to the visual appeal of the gaming machine.

Known game cabinets are commonly made of wood sheeting to provide the required structural support for the various components. Because the components such as the coin collector, electronic control, display screen and reel units can be quite heavy, the cabinet may be made from relatively thick sheets of wood to provide the necessary strength. Also, security is a factor in construction of gaming cabinets. The cabinet must securely close off the gaming machine and be strong enough to prevent break-in/theft. The cabinet must also prevent unauthorized entry and tampering of the internal game components by those attempting to alter the game play. However, such wood cabinets are quite heavy, and the wood may become damaged or otherwise worn over a period of time, thereby degrading the appearance of the gaming machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine cabinet according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cabinet of FIG. 1 from a different angle;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a frame for a gaming cabinet according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the frame of FIG. 3 from a different angle;

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of the gaming cabinet of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the gaming cabinet of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of the gaming cabinet of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a frame for a gaming cabinet according to another aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the cabinet frame of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of a gaming cabinet utilizing the frame shown in FIGS. 8 and 9; and

FIG. 11 is an isometric view of a gaming machine that includes the cabinet and frame of FIGS. 8-10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

For purposes of description herein, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “right,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary.

It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

The present application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/073,957, filed on Mar. 7, 2005, entitled DUAL HINGE MOUNTING ARRANGEMENT, the entire contents of which is incorporated by reference.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a gaming cabinet 1 according to one aspect of the present invention includes vertically extending sides 2, and a horizontally extending upper side 3. The sides 2 include a Vertical rear edge 4, and angled upper front edges 5. An upper door member 6 closes off an enlarged upper opening 7 in cabinet 1. The upper door member 6 may be of a construction as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/073,957, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference and may include a bezel or other mounting arrangement for supporting a variety of game components, such as a light-transmitting screen or the like. A lower door member 8 extends across horizontal, forwardly-projecting portions 9. The lower door member 8 is configured to support a variety of game control features such as push buttons and the like as described in the above-identified U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/073,957. Vertically extending lower front edges 10 define a lower opening 11 therebetween. The lower opening 11 may be closed off with a door (not shown) having a coin collector and/or other gaming components attached thereto.

With further reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, the gaming cabinet 1 according to one aspect of the present invention includes a rigid internal frame structure 15 that comprises a plurality of tubular steel frame members 16 that are welded together. The ends 17 of frame members 16 may be cut to form a mitered joint 18. Also, a horizontal tubular member 16a has an end 17a that abuts an end 17b of a rear vertical frame member 16b to form a joint 19. The joints 18 and 19 are preferably welded to provide a very strong and durable frame structure. During construction, the frame members 16 may be cut to the proper size, and placed in a fixture (not shown) to hold the tubular steel frame components in the proper position. The joints 18 and 19 are then welded, and the fixture securely holds the frame structure 15 to minimize warping that would otherwise result from the welding operation. In the illustrated example, the tubular members 16 are steel, and have a square cross-sectional shape with an outer dimension of 0.75 inches×0.75 inches with a wall thickness of 0.060 inches. However, tubular members of other materials, cross-sectional shapes and sizes may also be utilized. For example, angle irons or other elongated structural members having non-tubular cross-sectional shapes may also be utilized to form a frame structure 15 according to other aspects of the present invention. Furthermore, alternate construction techniques such as threaded fasteners or other mechanical fasteners may be utilized to interconnect frame members 16 instead of welding.

The frame 15 may include one or more cross members 16c forming a support for a shelf that supports game components and the like inside cabinet 1. As described in detail in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/073,957, an upper horizontal frame member 16d provides for mounting of hinges to support the doors 6 and 8. The cross member 16d has a U-shaped cross section. A plurality of brackets 20 may be secured to the frame members 16 by welding, or by conventional threaded fasteners or the like.

With reference back to FIGS. 1 and 2, the sides 2 of the cabinet comprise thin sheets of steel or other metal 22 that are welded to the frame members 16. Similarly, the upper side 3 comprises a thin sheet of steel 23 that is also welded to the frame members 16. In the illustrated example, sheets 22 are 16 gauge steel (0.060 thick), and sheet 23 is slightly thicker for more strength. The sheets of metal 22 and 23 are preferably spot welded to the frame 15 at a plurality of locations. The sheet metal is relatively thin, and therefore does not substantially contribute to the total weight of the cabinet. Also, the sheet metal 22 and 23 substantially stiffens the frame 15 by providing sheer stiffness. When assembled, one or more sheets of material 24 may be detachably secured to the frame 15 via threaded fasteners 25 or the like to close off the back side of cabinet 1.

In the illustrated example, the forward portions of tubes 9 form a forwardly-projecting keypad area that supports door 8. Door 8 may include a plurality of push buttons or the like (not shown) providing for input/control by an individual using the gaming machine. The illustrated version of a gaming machine is a sit-down type machine, but the gaming machine cabinet may also be configured for stand-up type games. In general, sit-down gaming machines include relatively small front access doors that cover openings above and below the keyboard area, as well as the top of the keyboard area, rather than a single large door covering the entire front of a cabinet as generally used for stand-up type gaming machines.

The combination of a rigid tubular frame 15 and sheet metal outer panels that are welded to the frame provides a very lightweight, yet rigid and very strong structure. Although the cabinet 1 is very secure, in contrast to wood-based cabinets, the design can be quickly and easily modified to accommodate new and/or different games. This lightweight rigid construction of cabinet 1 thereby provides a strong and durable cabinet for gaming machines and the like. The strength and rigidity of the cabinet provide support for mounting internal game components that may be quite heavy, and also provides for mounting of doors and the like. The doors may have a variety of components mounted thereto, and the doors may be quite heavy as a result. The hinges and/or other mounting components may be welded or otherwise secured to the frame structure 15, such that the forces generated by the doors or other components are transmitted into the frame 15. In general, gaming cabinets made from sheets of wood according to prior known construction techniques may require use of relatively thick sheets of wood to provide adequate strength in areas having localized high loads due to, for example, hinges used to mount doors. Thus, a large thick sheet of material may have been used to form a side of a cabinet, even though only a small portion of the sheet was subject to loads requiring a thicker sheet.

With further reference to FIGS. 8-10, a gaming cabinet frame 30 according to another aspect of the present invention includes a plurality of metal tubes 31 that are welded together to form frame 30. Frame 30 includes upright lower tubes 32, and angled lower tubes 33 that extend upwardly and connect to upright tubes 34. Frame 30 further includes angled tubes 35 extending between upright tubes 34 and horizontal tubes 36. Upright front tubes 37 extend upwardly from the forward ends of tubes 36, and connect to angled tubes 38 which, in turn, connect to angled tubes 39, and tubes 39 connect to upright tubes 40. Metal reinforcing strip 41 is connected to upper ends of tubes 40, and extends downwardly around tubes 32-40, forming a gently-curved concave upper portion 42, a convex forward edge portion 43, a concave lower portion 44, and a convex bottom edge 45. The metal reinforcing strip 41 may be a flat strip of metal that is bent to form the curved shape shown in FIGS. 8-10. Alternately, reinforcing strip 41 may be an angled iron-type member or other suitable reinforcing strip that can be formed into the curved shapes illustrated in FIGS. 8-10. A plurality of metal skins 46 may be welded to the frame 30 to form gaming cabinet 50 as shown in FIG. 11 having curved forward surfaces 51 and 52. Game 50 may include a jackpot display feature 53 and various electrical and/or mechanical internal components 54. It will be readily apparent that cabinet 1 may also include these features or other gaming features and components that are well known to those skilled in the art. It will be appreciated that the design of the gaming cabinet may be readily modified to provide a variety of shapes. Also, the tubular frame and steel outer skin construction of the gaming cabinet of the present invention may take on shapes that are difficult or impossible to form utilizing traditional wood-based construction.

It will be understood that cabinet 1, including the frame and sheet metal members, may be galvanized to resist corrosion, or otherwise coated to provide protection against corrosion. Also, although the frame 15 and sheet metal members 22 and 23 are preferably made of steel according to one aspect of the invention, a variety of other suitable metal materials such as aluminum may also be utilized according to other aspects of the present invention.

Various gaming machines, cabinets, and components are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 10/810,911 and 11/073,957, and in issued U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,515,959 and 5,544,595. The entire contents of each of these applications and patents are incorporated by reference. The various doors, door components, light-transmitting sheets, display screens, game components, coin dispensers, bill acceptors, game control/player input devices such as buttons or the like, may be utilized with the cabinet 1 of the present application.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.