Title:
Expanded Primary Payout Indicator Gaming Machine And Method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An expanded primary payout indicator gaming machine and method are disclosed. A gaming machine contains a game with a set of special outcomes. Upon achieving one of the special outcomes, at least one indicator indicates a predetermined award associated with the special outcome.



Inventors:
Luciano Jr., Robert A. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Bertram, William K. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
11/538370
Publication Date:
04/19/2007
Filing Date:
10/03/2006
Assignee:
BALLY GAMING, INC. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LEICHLITER, CHASE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BALLY GAMING INC. (LAS VEGAS, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming machine comprising: a central processing unit operatively coupled to a set of player-operated controls; a memory configured to store a wagering game program operable by the central processing unit in accordance with the player-operated controls; a display controlled by the central processing unit to display a normal game outcome and at least one indicator controlled by the central processing unit to display a special game outcome.

2. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the display comprises mechanical reels.

3. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the display comprises a video display.

4. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the at least one indicator comprises a wheel and a pointer, of which at least one is moveable.

5. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the at least one indicator is mechanical.

6. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the at least one indicator is represented on a video display.

7. The gaming machine of claim 1 wherein the at least one indicator is implemented using lights.

8. The gaming machine of claim 1 further comprising a pay table.

9. The gaming machine of claim 8 wherein the special game outcome is identified on the pay table.

10. The gaming machine of claim 8 wherein the special game outcome is not displayed on the pay table.

11. A method of operating a gaming machine, the method including the steps of: accepting a wager from a player; initiating play of a game; obtaining one of a set of possible outcomes of the game, the set of possible outcomes including a subset of winning outcomes, the subset of winning outcomes further including a subset of special outcomes; and upon obtaining one of the special outcomes, activating at least one indicator to indicate a predetermined award associated with the obtained outcome.

12. The method of claim 11 further including the step of displaying at least one of the special outcomes on a pay table.

13. The method of claim 11 further including the step of activating the at least one indicator for no player-discernable reason.

14. The method of claim 11 further including the step of using a multi-function symbol to indicate that the at least one indicator is activatable.

15. The method of claim 11 further including the step of using a predetermined sequence to indicate the predetermined award.

16. The method of claim 11 further including the step of using a dynamic sequence to indicate the predetermined award.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/727,480 filed Oct. 17, 2005, incorporated by reference herein in it entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to gaming games and methods and, more particularly, to gaming machines and methods that provide an expanded primary payout indicator.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the prior art, various types of gaming machines have been developed with different features to captivate and maintain player interest. For example, gaming machines may include flashing displays, lighted displays, or sound effects to capture a player's interest in a gaming device. In general, a gaming machine allows a player to play a game in exchange for a wager. Depending on the outcome of the game, the player may be entitled to an award which is paid to the player by the gaming machine, normally in the form of currency or game credits.

In addition to an internal pay table used by the gaming machine to calculate awards due the player, there is often a representation of a pay table against which the player may visually compare the combination of symbols displayed upon the game displays to see if he has won. Some machines have lights behind the pay glass to indicate when a particular award has been won, while still other video and mechanical slot machines highlight winning combinations through the use of flashing boxes superimposed on video reels or by backlighting the winning symbols on a mechanical slot machine. Some video or mechanical/video hybrid slot machines highlight winning combinations on a video representation of the pay table, or on a duplicate video representation of slot machine reels.

Slot machine pay combinations have historically been limited to simple combinations of symbols to determine a win amount that a player can readily map to a visual pay table. This has limited the number of pay combinations that can be presented to the player to a number significantly below the number that are mathematically possible. In order to provide a mathematically richer, more interesting game for the player, gaming machine designers frequently create a mathematically distinct bonus game. The mathematical model for such a bonus game must be individually designed and tested. While there are often automated test suites for complete testing of primary games, it is common for bonus games to be spot-checked through manual testing and code inspection. Thus, bonus games are often incompletely tested, in that not every possible combination is examined. This leads to increased error and verification costs. A broader spectrum of primary game combinations that eliminates the need for a bonus game is therefore desirable. In addition, merely incrementing a win meter each time there is a winning event can become monotonous to the players of a slot machine. There is a need to provide players with an entertaining and interesting visual indication of the value of some or all of the primary win events on a gaming machine.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine includes a central processing unit operatively coupled to a set of player-operated controls; a memory configured to store a wagering game program operable by the central processing unit in accordance with the player-operated controls; a display controlled by the central processing unit to display a normal game outcome and at least one indicator controlled by the central processing unit to display a special game outcome.

In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, a method of operating a gaming machine includes the steps of accepting a wager from a player; initiating play of a game; obtaining one of a set of possible outcomes of the game, the set of possible outcomes including a subset of winning outcomes, the subset of winning outcomes further including a subset of special outcomes. The method further includes the step of, upon obtaining one of the special outcomes, activating at least one indicator to indicate a predetermined award associated with the obtained outcome.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, incorporated in and forming a part of the specification, illustrate several embodiments of the present invention by way of example, and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine in accordance with one aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the physical and logical components of the gaming machine of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an example of the basic slot machine portion of the gaming machine in FIG. 1

FIG. 4 is an example of the expanded primary payout indicator portion of the gaming machine in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a functional block diagram depicting the acts associated with using an expanded primary payout indicator to indicate a pay amount in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a detailed example of an expanded primary payout indicator containing various kinds of indicia.

FIG. 7 is a functional block diagram depicting the acts associated with dynamically determining an expanded primary payout indicator presentation in accordance with one aspect of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a gaming machine with two expanded primary payout indicators in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is an example of one embodiment of an expanded primary payout indicator using a linear moving pointer.

FIG. 10 is an example contrasting ordinary and multi-function reel symbols.

FIG. 11 is a schematic block diagram showing the hardware elements of a networked gaming system in accordance with one aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 1 illustrates a gaming machine 100 including cabinet housing 120, base game display 140, player-activated buttons 160, player tracking panel 136, bill/voucher acceptor 180 and one or more speakers 190. Cabinet housing 120 is a self-standing unit that is generally rectangular in shape and may be manufactured with reinforced steel or other rigid materials which are resistant to tampering and vandalism. Cabinet housing 120 houses a processor, circuitry, and software (not shown) for receiving signals from the player-activated buttons 160, operating the games, and transmitting signals to the respective displays and speakers. Any shaped cabinet may be implemented with any embodiment of gaming machine 100 so long as it provides access to a player for playing a game. For example, cabinet 120 may comprise a slant-top, bar-top, or table-top style cabinet. The operation of gaming machine 100 is described more fully below.

The plurality of player-activated buttons 160 may be used for various functions such as, but not limited to, selecting a wager denomination, selecting a game to be played, selecting a wager amount per game, initiating a game, or cashing out money from gaming machine 100. Buttons 160 function as input mechanisms and may include mechanical buttons, electromechanical buttons or touch screen buttons. Optionally, a handle 115 may be rotated by a player to initiate a game.

In other embodiments, buttons 160 may be replaced with various other input mechanisms known in the art such as, but not limited to, a touch screen system, touch pad, track ball, mouse, switches, toggle switches, or any other means used to accept player input. For example, one input means is a universal button module as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/106,212, entitled “Universal Button Module,” filed on Apr. 14, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Generally, a universal button module provides a dynamic button system adaptable for use with various games and capable of adjusting to gaming systems having frequent game changes. More particularly, the universal button module may be used in connection with playing a game on a gaming machine and may be used, for example, to select the number of pay lines to play in a game and the number of credits to bet per line.

Cabinet housing 120 may optionally include top box 150, which contains “top glass” 152, and/or “belly glass” 165 for the purpose of displaying advertising or payout information related to the game or games available on gaming machine 100. Player tracking panel 136 includes player tracking card reader 134 and player tracking display 132. Voucher printer 130 may be installed in cabinet housing 120 or be integrated into player tracking panel 136 or top box 150.

Game display 140 presents a game of chance wherein a player receives one or more outcomes from a set of possible outcomes. For example, one game of chance is a slot machine game with three spinning reels. In other embodiments, gaming machine 100 may implement a mechanical reel slot machine, a video poker game, a video keno game, a lottery game, a bingo game, a Class II bingo game, a roulette game, a craps game, a blackjack game, a mechanical or video representation of a wheel game or the like. In alternate embodiments, it may further be appreciated that games of skill or games of chance involving some player skill may be implemented with gaming machine 100.

Mechanical or video/mechanical embodiments may include other game displays (not shown) such as mechanical reels, wheels, or dice as required to present the game to the player. In video/mechanical or pure video embodiments, game display 140 is, typically, a CRT or a flat-panel display in the form of, but not limited to, liquid crystal, plasma, electroluminescent, vacuum fluorescent, field emission, or any other type of panel display known or developed in the art. Game display 140 may be mounted in either a “portrait” or “landscape” orientation in standard or “widescreen” dimensions (i.e., a ratio of one dimension to another of at least 16×9). For example, a widescreen display may be 32 inches wide by 18 inches tall. A widescreen display in a “portrait” orientation may be 32 inches tall by 18 inches wide. Additionally, game display 140 preferably includes a touch screen or touch glass system (not shown) and presents player interfaces such as, but not limited to, a credit meter (not shown), a win meter (not shown) and control buttons (not shown). An example of a touch glass system is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,942,571, entitled “Gaming Device with Direction and Speed Control of Mechanical Reels Using Touch Screen,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Game display 140 may also present information including, but not limited to, player information, advertisements and casino promotions, graphic displays, news and sports updates, or even offer an alternate game. This information may be generated through a host computer networked with gaming machine 100 on its own initiative or it may be obtained by player request using either one or more of the plurality of player-activated buttons 160; the game display itself, if game display 140 comprises a touch screen or similar technology; buttons mounted about game display 140 (not shown) which may permit selections such as those found on an ATM machine, where legends on the screen are associated with respective selecting buttons; or any player input device that offers the required functionality.

In some embodiments, cabinet housing 120 incorporates a single game display 140. However, in preferred embodiments, cabinet housing 120 or top box 150 may house one or more additional displays or components used for various purposes including additional game play screens (not shown), animated “top glass” 152 or “belly glass” 165, progressive meters 195 or mechanical or electromechanical devices such as, but not limited to, wheels, pointers or reels (not shown). The additional displays may or may not include a touch screen or touch glass system. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, an expanded primary payout indicator 180 displays the results of all or some subset of gaming machine 100's award schedule 170 using a rotating pointer 182 and a stationary wheel face 184.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing the interconnection of physical and logical components 200 of gaming machine 100. Currency acceptor 210 is typically connected to central processing unit (“CPU”) 205 by a serial connection such as RS-232 or USB. CPU 205 executes game program 220 that causes reels 270 or video display screen 230, in conjunction with expanded primary payout indicator 280, to display a game for use by a player.

When the player has inserted a form of currency such as, for example and without limitation, paper currency, coins or tokens, cashless tickets or vouchers, electronic funds transfers or the like into currency acceptor 210, a signal is sent to CPU 205 which, in turn, assigns an appropriate number of credits for play. The player may further control the operation of gaming machine 100, for example, to select the number of pay lines to play and the amount to wager via electromechanical or touchscreen buttons 250. The game begins in response a signal generated when the player pulls a lever or presses one of buttons 250, the detection of which causes CPU 205 to spin reels 270, which may be mechanical reels or reels displayed on video display screen 230. Random number generator 240 responds to instructions from CPU 205 to provide a randomly selected stop position for each reel. CPU 205 then stops the reels according to the predetermined stop positions to display a plurality of reel indicia. In various embodiments, one or more of the game outcomes causes CPU 205 to signal expanded primary payout indicator 280 to indicate a winning amount to the player.

In various embodiments of gaming machine 100, game program 220 is stored in a memory device (not shown). By way of example, but not by limitation, such memory devices include external memory devices, hard drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and flash memory cards. In an alternate embodiment, the game program is stored in a remote storage device. In one embodiment, the remote storage device is housed in a remote server (not shown). The gaming machine may access the remote storage device via a network connection, including but not limited to, a local area network connection, a TCP/IP connection, a wireless connection, or any other means for operatively networking components together. Optionally, other data including graphics, sound files and other media data for use with gaming machine 100 are stored in the same or a separate memory device (not shown).

Predetermined payout amounts for certain combinations of reel indicia, including bonus game outcomes, are stored as part of game program 220. Such payout amounts are, in response to instructions from CPU 205, provided to the player in the form of coins, credits or currency via payout mechanism 260, which may be one or more of a credit meter, a coin hopper, a voucher printer, an electronic funds transfer protocol or any other payout means known or developed in the art.

Turning now to FIG. 3, which illustrates one embodiment of the present invention, a game is implemented on gaming machine 100 using three mechanical spinning reels 301-303. At least one pay line 305 passes through one indicium on each of the reels 301-303. The player selects the number of credits or coins wagered on pay line 305 using bet buttons 320. The player may collect the balance of his credits by pressing CASH OUT button 340.

Credit meter 315 displays the player's current credit balance, while other meters 316 may display the total bet size and the last amount paid by the payout mechanism 260 (FIG. 2). In alternate embodiments, meters 316 may display other information related to the game.

The player initiates game play by pressing SPIN button 330 or operating handle 335. Alternately, the player may simultaneously select the maximum number of coins or credits allowed and initiate the game by pressing MAX BET button 338. Reels 301-303 are thereon made to spin, and subsequently, to stop at predetermined stop positions. A determination is made whether the stop positions of the reels resulted in a winning game outcome by comparing the displayed indicia combinations to predetermined pay rules. Because the ultimate stop positions are known in advance of the stopping of the reels, in some embodiments, the winning game outcome is determined prior to the initiation of the reel spin or is determined while the reels are spinning.

Winning combinations of indicia and their associated awards may be indicated on a pay table 350. In alternate embodiments, the pay table may be presented on a video display. On a video machine, the pay table may be placed on a second display or on a multi-page help screen accessible through a HELP or PAY TABLE button (not shown).

A winning outcome, for example, might comprise three or more [BAR] symbols adjacent to one another on the pay line. For each winning outcome, the game grants the player the award associated with that outcome in the pay table. The award may be adjusted based on the number of credits wagered on the pay line or on the game. Some video representations of pay tables may factor in the amount of the player's wager, in which case no additional award adjustment would be required.

In various embodiments, winning combinations may be evaluated in adjacent reels from left-to-right, right-to-left or both. In other embodiments, “wild” symbols may contribute to winning combinations. Other winning combinations may result from indicia that do not necessarily accumulate on the pay line; rather these indicia may appear anywhere on reels 301-303 visible to the player (i.e., “scatter pays”).

Referring to FIG. 4, in accordance with one aspect of the invention, expanded primary pay indicator 400 may indicate an award associated with a game outcome. For example, any three dollar sign symbols on the pay line may pay 50 credits, but any three dollar sign symbols on the pay line with a [PAY 100] symbol displayed anywhere else on the reels may result in a winning combination that pays 150 (50+100) credits. The award for this outcome may be indicated on expanded primary payout indicator 400 by directing pointer 410 to indicate one of segments 420 corresponding, in this case, to the win of 150 credits.

In some embodiments, winning combinations may be awarded by way of an expanded primary payout indicator where there is no readily discernable relationship between the reel indicia and the award (i.e., the award is not shown on a pay table, wherein the pay table may include any supplemental pay information on pay glass or help screens). In some cases, it may be impossible for a player to determine from the reel indicia that a winning combination exists. In one embodiment, “mystery pays,” which award a range of credits from 10-1000 credits, for example, may be shown solely on an expanded primary payout indicator. In one such embodiment, a game includes three reel virtually mapped mechanical or video reels and an expanded primary payout indicator having seven possible award values. Assuming, by way of example, and not intended to be limiting in any way, that one desires to have 27 special outcomes out of all possible reel outcomes result in a mystery pay that will be shown on the expanded primary payout indicator, a virtual weight of “3” could be assigned to each mystery pay symbol. This would result in 27 (3 * 3 * 3) different combinations that would award a mystery pay when the random numbers selected for the three individual reel stop positions corresponded to these outcomes. The same random numbers would also simultaneously provide a weighted mapping into the set of seven possible mystery pay awards to be shown on the expanded primary payout indicator.

In another embodiment, a three-reel game uses virtual reel strips with 128 stops on the first reel, 128 stops on the second reel, 384 stops on the third reel and an expanede primary payout indicator in the form of a prize wheel. Six “Prize Wheel” symbols on the third reel award a mystery pay indicated on the expanded primary payout indicator irrespective of the symbols shown on the first and second reels. Each of the six “Prize Wheel” symbol on the third reel has 16,384 (128*128) combinations of virtual stops derived from the first and second reels that may be used to map into a prize wheel distribution table, an example of which is shown in Table 1:

TABLE 1
PayProbabilityNo. of virtual reel stops
1000.00116
500.00233
250.00233
200.008131
150.00582
125.00698
120.00698
110.00582
100.045737
90.00582
80.02388
75.013213
70.01164
60.121966
50.142294
45.152458
40.162621
30.162621
20.1422267
Sum1.0016,384

For example, if the game random number generator selected virtual reel stop 1 on the first reel, virtual reel stops from 1 to 16 on the second reel and a virtual reel stop that corrosponds to one of the 6 prize wheel symbols on the third reel, a wheel win of 1000 is indicated. Likewise, virtual reel stop 1 on the first reel with virtual reel stops from 17 to 49 on the second reel and a virtual stop that corresponds to one of the six prize wheel symbols on reel three results in a wheel win of 500.

Briefly referring to FIG. 10, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, some of the ordinary reel indicia 1000 such as bars and sevens are combined with a “watermark” or “halo” image of a wheel to produce multi-function indicia 1010. When any combination of indicia on the pay line contains one or more multi-function indicia 1010, the award will be presented by an expanded primary pay indicator in the form of a wheel. For example, multi-function indicia 1010 and ordinary game indicia 1000 may be combined to represent pay amounts displayed on the pay table, pay glass or help screen. For example, the outcome [BAR]-[BAR/WHEEL]-[BAR] would result in the award designated on the pay table for [BAR]-[BAR]-[BAR]being indicated on the expanded primary pay indicator, whereas an outcome of [BAR]-[BAR]-[BAR] would result in the award being indicated only on the win meter.

In other embodiments, a multi-function symbol takes the form of a “ghost” symbol. For example, the [BAR/WHEEL] symbol described above appears to the player as an ordinary [BAR] symbol; it is, however, represented in the math model as a [BAR/WHEEL] symbol. In these situations, the expanded primary payout indicator may present an award for no reason discernable to the player when viewing the combinations of indicia on the reels.

FIG. 5 presents a logical flow diagram generally depicting the steps associated with method 500 for indicating a pay on an expanded primary payout indicator in accordance with one aspect of the invention. The order of actions shown in FIG. 5 and described below is merely illustrative, and should not be considered limiting. For example, the order of the actions may be altered, additional steps added or some steps removed without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention.

The game is initiated at block 501. For example, in a slot machine game, a player initiates play of the game by inserting currency of some form, selecting the form and quantity of a wager such as the number of lines to play and the number of credits per line and presses a start switch or button. Random numbers for each of the reels are selected using a random generator and mapped to the physical reel stops at block 510 and the reels are spun and subsequently stopped, block 520.

Next, at decision block 530, it is determined whether the weighted reel stop positions correspond to an outcome whose associated award that should be presented with the expanded primary payout indicator. If the weighted reel stop positions do not correspond to an outcome whose award is to be displayed by the expanded primary payout indicator, processing skips to block 540, where a “normal” pay, if appropriate, is awarded using a simple win meter or other method (See FIG. 3, element 316) and normal play resumes in an iterative fashion at block 501.

Otherwise, using a table or algorithm, the weighted reel stop positions are further mapped to an expanded primary payout indicator position at block 550 and the expanded primary payout indicator is then positioned to the mapped location at block 560. The award indicated by the expanded primary payout indicator is granted to the player at block 570 and normal play continues in an iterative fashion at block 501.

The indicia on the primary payout indicator are preferably numerals representing award amounts won in units of credits, coins or some other representation of value, however, an expanded primary payout indicator may use other kinds of indicia. Referring now to FIG. 6, in accordance with one embodiment, the indicia on wheel face 620 of expanded primary payout indicator 600 may include any type or combination of types of indicia such as multipliers 660 (2×, 5×, 10×, etc.), symbols 650 (slot machine indicia, for example, fruit, card faces, dollar signs, bars, stars, bells or the like), words 640 (JACKPOT, DOUBLE, RESPIN) or representations of non-monetary prizes 670 (CAR). The indicia may be used individually or in combination to convey game results to the player. For example, rotating pointer 610 might spin twice, indicating first a “20”, then a “RESPIN” (not shown). The display of a RESPIN result causes rotating pointer 610 to move a third time, for example, to a “5×” indication. The entire sequence, therefore, indicates a game outcome of 100 (20 times 5), units. In some embodiments, the award indicated by expanded primary payout indicator 600 is adjusted based on the number of credits wagered on a pay line or on the game as a whole.

In another embodiment, moving pointer 610 starts moving when the initial game presentation, reels, for example, (not shown) is complete and remains in motion for until the entire game outcome is known. At predetermined or random “snapshot” points during the period of movement, the indicia on wheel face 620, indicated by the current location of moving pointer 610, is added to the total game outcome. For example, moving pointer 610 may move for a total of five seconds. After one second elapses, moving pointer 610 points to a “20” on wheel face 620. After three seconds, moving pointer 610 points to “DOUBLE” on wheel face 620. When pointer 610 stops moving, the player would be informed that the game has paid 40 (20 times 2) units.

It should be appreciated that the foregoing examples of mapping each possible game outcome to a corresponding expanded primary payout indicator presentation are intended to be illustrative and should not be construed as limiting in any way. Other methods may be used to provide an entertaining presentation of a numeric win amount. In one embodiment, once the game results have been evaluated and a total win amount is known, the gaming machine may employ an algorithm that dynamically calculates one or more expanded primary payout indicator presentations that will accumulate a total equal to the win amount. For example, if an expanded primary payout indicator has potential pay values of 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 20, 100 and 2×, it is possible for such an algorithm to show a pay of 100 using a single 100 presentation, a sequence of 20-8-2-10-2×-10, or any other combination totaling 100 at the conclusion of the presentation. In a slightly different embodiment, intermediate values are totaled “on the fly.” In this embodiment, using the 20-8-2-10-2×-10 sequence from the previous example, the total award is 90 rather than 100 because the 2×multiplier applies only to the 40 units accumulated up to the point where the 2×was encountered. It may be appreciated that any set of rules for the accumulation of intermediate results may be employed without deviating from spirit of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a logical flow diagram generally depicting the steps 700 associated with carrying out an example of a dynamic expanded primary payout indicator sequence in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The order of actions as shown in FIG. 7 and described below is only illustrative, and should not be considered limiting. For example, the order of the actions may be altered, additional steps added or some steps removed without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention.

First at block 705, the actual award amount is determined. For example, in a slot game, the player initiates play of the slot reels by inserting currency of some form, selecting the form and quantity of a wager such as the number of lines to play and the number of credits per line and presses a start switch or button. The random numbers for each of the reels are selected using a suitable random number generator and mapped to the physical reel stops. The reels are spun and subsequently stopped.

Next at decision block 710, it is determined whether the outcome corresponds to an award that should be presented using the expanded primary payout indicator. If the outcome does not correspond to a special award to be displayed by the expanded primary payout indicator, any “normal” award is awarded using a simple win meter (FIG. 3, element 316) or other method at block 730 and normal play resumes in an iterative fashion at block 705.

Otherwise, using the award determined in block 705 as a target, a random generator is used to select one of the available indicia on the expanded primary payout indicator, block 720. If a relatively short expanded primary payout indicator sequence is desired, a weighted table may be used to favor certain higher amounts such as 100, for example, on the expanded primary payout indicator.

A trial application of the selected pay indicium is applied to the current presentation sequence total at decision block 740 to see if the resulting new amount would exceed the actual award amount. For example, if a total award presentation of 100 is required, the current presentation sequence total is 80 and the selected indicium is 200, the selected indicium would not be added to the expanded primary payout indicator because the new presentation sequence total (280) would exceed the target award amount (100). Processing would return to block 720 for selection of a new trial indicium. It should be noted that, as long as there is at least one “1” indicium on the expanded primary payout indicator, a sequence that exactly produces the award amount will eventually be selected.

If the trial application of the selected pay indicium does not exceed the actual win amount, the indicium is added to the expanded primary payout indicator sequence and processing continues to decision block 750, where it is determined whether the current expanded primary payout indicator sequence would display the award exactly. If so, the sequence is fully constructed and processing proceeds to block 760, otherwise, processing returns to block 720 for selection of another indicium.

At block 760, the expanded primary payout indicator is moves through one or more positions, progressively revealing the award to the player, and then the award is granted to the player at block 770. Normal play then resumes at block 705.

As shown in FIG. 8, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, gaming machine 800 has two expanded primary payout indicators 810 and 820 which may be used in combination to represent an award. For example, two pointers 815 and 825 on wheel faces 830 and 840 both indicate pays of 150 for a total pay of 300. In further embodiments, a single device (not shown) could be used to indicate multiple values sequentially (multiple spins) or simultaneously (using multiple pointers on one or more indicators). Alternately, displays may be viewed through multiple windows in front of one or more disks or the entire disk(s) may be visible. In yet other embodiments, the expanded primary payout indicator may take any shape or form such as, by way of example and without limitation, additional reels, a rotating wheel or disk, a clock-like face, a “light wheel” or a “light bar,” on which one or more illuminated lights indicate the position of a plurality of simulated pointers. In another embodiment, the expanded primary payout indicator may comprise a stationary pointer beside or beneath which pay indicia move in a linear fashion. As illustrated in FIG. 9, in accordance with one aspect of the invention, expanded primary payout indicator 900 may comprise a plurality of indicia 920 and one or more movable pointers 910 arranged to stop adjacent to and indicate any of the indicia. Alternately, video representations of these or similar expanded primary payout indicators may be used.

Referring to FIG. 11, in accordance with one aspect of the invention, gaming system 1100 includes server 1110, gaming machines 1150, and network 1140 connecting gaming machines 1150 to server 1110. Additionally, gaming display computer 1130 is shown connected to network 1140. Server 1110 may be selected from a variety of conventionally available servers. The type of server used is generally determined by the platform and software requirements of the gaming system. Examples of suitable servers are an IBM RS6000-based server, an IBM AS/400-based server or a Microsoft Windows-based server, but it should be appreciated that any suitable server may be used. It may also be appreciated that server 1110 may be configured as a single “logical” server that comprises multiple physical servers. Gaming machines 1150 operate similar to conventional peripheral networked terminals. Gaming machines 1150 have a player interface such as a display, a card reader, and selection buttons through which gaming machines 1150 interact with a player playing an expanded primary payout indicator wagering game. The player interface is used for making choices such as the amount of a bet or the number of lines to bet. Gaming machines 1150 also provide information to server 1110 concerning activity on gaming machines 1150 and provide a communication portal for players with server 1110. For example, the player interface may be used for selecting different server-related menu options such as, but not limited to, transferring a specified number of credits from a player account onto the credit meter of the gaming machine, or for transferring credits from the gaming machine to a central player account.

In various embodiments, any of the gaming machines 1150 may be a mechanical reel spinning slot machine, video slot machine, video poker machine, keno machine, video blackjack machine, or a gaming machine offering one or more of the above described games employing an expanded primary payout indicator. Networking components (not shown) facilitate communications across network 1140 between the system server 1110 and game management units 1120 and/or gaming display control computers 1130 that control displays for carousels of gaming machines. Game management units (GMU's) 1120 connect gaming machines to networking components and may be installed in the gaming machine cabinet or external to the gaming machine. The function of the GMU is similar to the function of a network interface card connected to a desktop personal computer (PC). Some GMU's have much greater capability and can perform such tasks as presenting and playing a game with an expanded primary payout indicator using a display 1125 operatively connected to the GMU 1120. Displays related to games with expanded primary payout indicators being played on gaming machines 1150 or GMU displays 1125 may also be presented on gaming display 1135 by gaming display control computer 1130. In one embodiment, the GMU 1120 is a separate component located outside the gaming machine. Alternatively, in another embodiment, the GMU 1120 is located within the gaming machine. Optionally, in an alternate embodiment, one or more gaming machines 1150 connect directly to the network and are not connected to a GMU 1120. A gaming system of the type described above allows a plurality of expanded primary payout indicator games in accordance with the various embodiments of the invention to be connected under the control of server 1110 for cooperative or competitive play in a particular area, carousel, casino or between casinos located in geographically separate areas.

One will appreciate that a gaming system may also comprise other types of components, and the above illustrations are meant only as examples and not as limitations to the types of components or games having an expanded primary payout indicator in a gaming system. Additionally, it may further be appreciated that each of the games could be operated on a remote host computer such that a player initiates play with the host computer over a network via the player interface, whereby gaming machine 1150 operates the respective gaming and video displays in conjunction with the game whose play is controlled by the remote computer.

Although the description above contains much specificity, it should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing an illustration of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention. The various embodiments disclosed herein are directed to a system and method for providing a game with an expanded primary payout indicator in a gaming device. Embodiments of the system, method and gaming device are illustrated and described herein by way of example only and not by way of limitation. Those skilled in the art will readily recognize various modifications and changes may be made to the invention without departing from the true spirit and scope of the claimed invention as set forth below.