Title:
LIGHTING SYSTEM FOR GAMING DEVICES AND METHOD OF USE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming apparatus includes several gaming devices. Lights are mounted in association with the gaming devices. A controller is in communication with the gaming devices and the lights. The controller is configured to receive a wager from the gaming devices and to play a base game on the gaming devices. The lights are operated in a first mode during a qualifying period. The controller determines if the qualifying period has ended and determines a set of the gaming devices that have qualified during the qualifying period. The controller further allows the set of gaming devices to play a community game during a community period and operates the lights in a second mode during the community period. A community game prize can be awarded.



Inventors:
Seelig, Jerald C. (Absecon, NJ, US)
Henshaw, Lawrence M. (Hammonton, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/020538
Publication Date:
11/06/2008
Filing Date:
01/26/2008
Assignee:
Atlantic City Coin & Slot Service Company, Inc. (Pleasantville, NJ, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SHAH, MILAP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ATIP Law (RENO, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming apparatus comprising: (A) a plurality of gaming devices; (B) a plurality of lights mounted in association with the gaming devices; (C) a controller in communication with the gaming devices and the lights, the controller being configured to: (a) receive a wager from the gaming devices; (b) play a first game on the gaming devices; (c) operate the lights in a first mode during a first period; (d) determine if the first period has ended; (e) if the first period has ended, determine a set of the gaming devices that have qualified during the first period; (f) allow the set of gaming devices to play a second game during a second period; (g) operate the lights in a second mode during the second period; and (h) award at least one prize.

2. The gaming apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first period is a qualifying period of time and the second period is a community game period of time.

3. The gaming apparatus of claim 1, wherein the lights are mounted to the gaming devices.

4. The gaming apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of the gaming devices has a plurality of reels, the lights being configured to backlight at least one of the reels.

5. The gaming apparatus of claim 1, wherein the lights are operated in a third mode during awarding of the prize.

6. The gaming apparatus of claim 1, wherein the lights are operated in a fourth mode during an attraction period.

7. The gaming apparatus of claim I, further comprising: (a) retrieving a software program from a server for a game; (b) storing the software program; (c) running the software program on the controller; and (d) operating the lights according lo the software program.

8. A method of gaming, not all necessarily in the order shown comprising: (A) receiving wagers from a plurality of gaming devices; (B) playing a first game on the gaming devices; (C) operating a plurality of lights in a first mode during a first period; (D) determining if the first period has ended; (E) if the first period has ended, determining a subset of the gaming devices that have qualified during the first period; (F) playing a second game on the subset of gaming devices during a second period; (G) operating the lights in a second mode during the second period; and (H) awarding at least one prize.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the prize is awarded by at least one of the subset of gaming devices.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein the gaming devices that have not qualified are allowed to play the first game during the second period.

11. The method of claim 8, wherein each of the gaming devices has a plurality of reels, the lights being configured to backlight at least one of the reels.

12. The method of claim 8, further comprising operating the lights in a third mode during awarding of the prize.

13. The method of claim 8, further comprising operating the lights in a fourth mode during an attraction period.

14. The method of claim 8, further comprising: (a) retrieving a software program from a server for a game; (b) storing the software program; (c) running the software program on a controller; and (d) operating the lights according to the software program.

15. A gaming apparatus comprising: (A) primary game means for allowing a plurality of players to play a plurality of primary games; (B) community game means for allowing at least a portion of the players to play a plurality of community games; (C) communication means for allowing the primary and community game means to communicate; (D) indicating means for indicating an operating mode of the primary and community game means; (E) selection means for selecting a subset of the primary game means to play the community game means; and (F) award means for awarding at least one prize.

16. The gaming apparatus of claim 15, wherein the indicating means indicates that the primary game means are in a qualifying mode.

17. The gaming apparatus of claim 15, wherein the indicating means indicates that the community game means are in a community game mode.

18. The gaming apparatus of claim 15, wherein the indicating means indicates that the game means are in a prize awarding mode.

19. The gaming apparatus of claim 15, wherein the indicating means comprises means for backlighting a reel.

20. A gaming apparatus comprising: (A) a plurality of gaming devices, each of the gaming devices having a controller, the controller being adapted to control the operation of the gaming device; (B) a plurality of lights mounted in association with the gaming devices, each of the lights being in communication with one of the controllers; (C) a server in communication with each of the controllers, the server being configured to: (a) download game instructions to the controllers; (b) download light operating instructions to the controllers; (c) allow the controllers to operate the gaming devices according to the game instructions; (d) allow the controllers to operate the lights according to the light operating instructions; and (e) award at least one prize.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED AND CO-PENDING PATENT APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/744,766, filed on May 4, 2007. The contents of the foregoing applications are herein incorporated by reference in entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to gaming devices and, more particularly, to gaming devices that can be arranged to play a community game using attractive lighting displays.

BACKGROUND

Gaming devices are well known in the art and a large variety of gaming devices have been developed. In general, gaming devices allow users or players to play a game. In many casino-type gaming devices, the outcome of the game depends, at least in part, on a randomly generated event. For example, a gaming device may use a random number generator to generate a random or pseudo-random number. The random number may then be compared to a pre-defined table to determine the outcome of the event. If the random number falls within a certain range of numbers on the table, the player may win a pre-defined prize. The table may also contain display information that allows the gaming device to generate a display that corresponds to the outcome of the game. The gaming device may present the outcome of the game on a large variety of display devices, such as mechanical spinning reels or video screens.

Reel-type gaming devices have been used in gaming for more than one hundred years. Traditional reel-type gaming devices have three mechanical reels that rotate around a common horizontal axis. A reel strip is attached around the circumference of each reel and the reel strips display a plurality of symbols. During normal operation, the reels are spun and stopped to display an outcome of the game. As each reel comes to a stop, a symbol on the perimeter of each reel strip is displayed on the front of the gaming device. Some gaming devices indicate a winning outcome by aligning pre-determined symbols on one or more pre-determined pay lines.

Gaming devices that are more interesting generate more player interest and excitement. This increased interest and excitement causes players to play longer, which results in more revenue for the game operator. For this purpose, many gaming devices utilize light to enhance their displays and to attract the attention of players. Many different kinds of lights and lighting effects have been developed for gaming devices. While lights have been used in conjunction with gaming devices, new and innovative applications of efficient and effective lighting systems are desirable to enhance the gaming experience.

SUMMARY OF AT LEAST ONE EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

Advantages

The various embodiments of the present invention may, but do not necessarily, achieve one or more of the following advantages:

provide a gaming device that utilizes light emitting diodes;

provide a reel device that utilizes light emitting diodes;

provide a reel device that utilizes light emitting diodes that have various beam angles and output power levels;

provide a reel device that utilizes light emitting diodes to backlight a flexible belt;

provide a reel device that utilizes different colored light emitting diodes to convey game information;

provide a gaming device that provides a community game;

provide a gaming device that operates lights in different modes according to the present using of the game;

provide a gaming network that can download light operation instructions from a server;

provide a lighting system for a network of games that can be operated in a coordinated manner;

provide game designers more flexibility in designing community games;

provide a visually distinct, but easily understood, gaming display;

provide a gaming device that adds to player excitement, satisfaction and interaction with a group of game players; and

provide a gaming device that is interesting to a player and results in longer playing time.

These and other advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification, claims, and abstract.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF AT LEAST ONE EMBODIMENT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In at least one embodiment, the present invention is directed to a gaming apparatus that includes several gaming devices. Several lights are mounted in association with the gaming devices. A controller is in communication with the gaming devices and the lights. The controller is configured to receive a wager from the gaming devices and to play a base game on the gaming devices. The lights are operated in a first mode during a qualifying period. The controller also determines if the qualifying period has ended and if the qualifying period has ended, determines a set of the gaming devices that have qualified during the qualifying period. The controller further allows the set of gaming devices to play a community game during a community period and operates the lights in a second mode during the community period. A community game prize can be awarded.

In another embodiment, the present invention is directed to a method of gaming. According to the method, wagers are received from several gaming devices and a base game is played on the gaming devices. Several lights are operated in a first mode during a qualifying period. It is determined if the qualifying period has ended. If the qualifying period has ended, a subset of the gaming devices that have qualified for further play during the qualifying period is determined. A community game is played on the subset of gaming devices during a community game period. The lights are operated in a second mode during the community game period. At least one community game prize is awarded. The community game prize is awarded by one of the subset of gaming devices.

The above description sets forth, rather broadly, a summary of one embodiment of the more important features of the present invention so that the detailed description of certain embodiments of the invention that follows may be better understood and contributions of the present invention to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described below and will form the subject matter of claims. In this respect, before explaining at least one preferred embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of the construction and to the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or as illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is substantially an isometric view of a gaming device that utilizes a spinning reel display.

FIG. 1B is substantially a schematic diagram of a portion of the gaming device of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 2 is substantially an exploded view of an embodiment of a lighting system of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is substantially a perspective view of the lighting system of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is substantially a front elevational view of an LED board.

FIG. 5 is substantially a schematic diagram of an electrical circuit for driving the light emitting diodes.

FIG. 6 is substantially a front elevational view of an LED board having various light emitting diode beam angles and output power levels.

FIG. 7 is substantially a side view of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is substantially a front elevational view of an LED board having various-light emitting diode colors.

FIG. 9 is substantially a front view of several gaming reels showing a game outcome.

FIG. 10 is substantially a front view of several gaming reels showing another game outcome.

FIG. 11 is substantially a perspective view of the lighting system of FIG. 2 used to backlight a flexible belt.

FIG. 12 is substantially a front view of several of the gaming devices of FIG. 1A assembled into a bank or community of gaming devices.

FIG. 13 is substantially a schematic diagram of the community of gaming devices of FIG. 13 connected in a network.

FIG. 14 is substantially a flowchart of a gaming method of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is substantially a front view of a community game in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 16 is substantially a schematic diagram of the community game of FIG. 15.

FIG. 17 is substantially a flowchart of another gaming method of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF AT LEAST ONE EMBODIMENT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In the following detailed description of certain embodiments of the present invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of this application. The drawings show, by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Gaming Device

The present invention comprises a lighting system for use with a gaming device. FIG. 1A illustrates a gaming device 10. Gaming device 10 may included a primary or base game apparatus 20 and a bonus game apparatus 30. Gaming device 10 may comprise a case or housing 24, a reel-type game display 22, having a plurality of display sections 35, a handle 26, a value acceptor 28, a coin bin 30, and a game controller 32A.

Although display 22 is shown with three display sections 35, a greater or lesser number of sections may be used. At least one symbol or indicia 41 per reel can be displayed to a player, or multiple indicia 41 on each reel can be displayed to a player. For example, a 3×3 matrix of 9 indicia 41 could be displayed. In certain embodiments, each display section 35 displays one reel 37. Alternatively, more or fewer reels could be displayed per display section 35. Display sections 35 could be omitted and all reels 37 displayed in display area 22.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention, each reel 37 has a plurality of indicia 41 appearing on the outer surface of the reel. The combinations of indicia 41 displayed to the player determine winning and losing combinations. A pay line 39 may be added to the display to aid the player in seeing the alignment of indicia 41 used to determine whether the player has won.

Case 24 may hold gaming device components. A value acceptor 28 may accept various forms of value, including cash and coins, from a game player. The value acceptor may accept tokens, paper currency, magnetic cards, and vouchers. A coin bin 30 may hold coins that may be dispensed after a winning event has occurred.

Gaming device 20 may include wager input means, such as buttons 45, for a player to input a wager to be played on a particular round of game play. Handle 26 may be used by the game player to initiate play on gaming device 20. Handle 26 may be pulled by the game player to start the game. Other input devices, such as a button 43, may also be provided for initiating play.

Once a game is activated, reels 37 spin or rotate around a common, usually horizontal, rotational axis (not shown). Controller 32A determines a game outcome and causes reels 37 to display the appropriate symbols or indicia 41 in sections 35. A winning combination or arrangement of symbols 41 preferably corresponds to a display on pay table 40. If the combination determined by controller 32A is a winning outcome, the player is awarded a prize. Display area 22 may comprise a primary game. Display area 22 may comprise moveable mechanical reels or may be a video display that simulates a rotating reel.

Game apparatus 20 may be controlled by an electronic controller 32A (see FIG. 1B) that utilizes a random number generator 33A (FIG. 1B). The random number generator produces a random or pseudo random number for each game. The outcome of the game may be determined by comparing the random number to a table of outcomes stored in a memory and accessed by controller 32A. A number of different tables of outcomes may be used and different tables may be used for different games. The tables can be designed so that different prizes have different probabilities of being awarded. Such design techniques are well known in gaming. Examples of such designs are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,448,419, issued to Telnaes, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,456,465, issued to Durham.

Gaming device 20 may also include a bonus game apparatus 30 that is mounted in association with primary game apparatus 20. The bonus game may be triggered by a bonus qualifying or activating event, as is known in the art, such as the display of a particular symbol 53 on reel 37. If the game being played is poker based, the bonus qualifying event may be occurrence of a certain hand, such as a royal flush. Furthermore, a bonus qualifying event may occur when a player accumulates a number of symbols or game outcomes over a number of separate game plays.

The bonus game may entitle a player to such prizes as additional monetary prizes, goods and/or services, or a bonus multiplier by which a player's winnings are multiplied. The bonus game may be activated by a separate input device, such as button 55, or could be activated by the same means used to activate the primary game, including input device 41 and/or handle 26. A display 59 such as a credit meter can be used to display prizes won on bonus game apparatus 30.

Bonus game apparatus 30 can include a rotating wheel 50. Rotating wheel 50 may be divided into several pie shaped sections or segments 52. Various indicia 54 can be displayed in segments 52. Indicia 54 can show a game outcome in the form of a prize to be awarded to a game player. An indicator 58 such as an arrow can indicate one of the indicia as a game outcome. Rotating wheel 50 may start to rotate and then stop. Rotating wheel 50 may rotate clock-wise or counter-clockwise. Rotating wheel 50 can be coupled to a rotary actuator 51 (FIG. 1B) in order to rotate wheel 50. Rotary actuator 51 can be any suitable type of actuator including stepper motors and electric motors. The combination of one of indicia 54 and indicator 58 can indicate a game outcome. Indicia 54 can be monetary amounts or may be a multiplier of a base game payout or may be physical prizes such as tickets to a show or restaurant passes. After rotating wheel 50 has stopped and indicated a game outcome, the credits won may be added to credit meter 59.

In an embodiment, rotating wheel 50 may be replaced by a video display. The video display can be any suitable display including video displays, plasma displays, LCD displays, LED meters and the like. The video display may be a single display or can be more than one display.

Bonus game apparatus 30 may be activated upon the occurrence of a bonus qualifying event in primary game apparatus 20. For example, a bonus qualifying event may comprise displaying a particular bonus symbol 53 on reels 35. Activation of bonus game apparatus 30 may include activation of lights and sounds and activation of player input device 55. Player input device 55 may have to be depressed by a player in order to start rotation of wheel 50.

Turning now to FIG. 1B, primary game apparatus 20 comprises a controller 32A that is adapted to control the operation of the game apparatus. Controller 32A may be one or more micro-computers or processor boards. Random number generator 33A may be in communication with controller 32A. Random number generator 33A is capable of randomly generating a random number and providing the random number to controller 32A. Controller 32A is further in communication with input device 43, and a light emitting diode (LED) printed circuit board 63 that contains lights or light emitting diodes 88. Controller 32A may also be in communication with sensors 34 that can detect the position of reels 35. Controller 32A and random number generator 33A may be a single processor or processor board.

Bonus game apparatus 30 may communicate with primary game apparatus 20 by controller 32A communicating with controller 32B. Controller 32B can be in communication with input device 55, actuator 51, sensor 56, random number generator 33B, indicator 58 and display 59.

Random number generator 33B may randomly determine a bonus prize is to be awarded and controller 32B may move wheel 50 to indicate the bonus prize that has been won. Controller 32B directs actuator 51 to rotate and stop wheel 50 such that the desired game outcome is aligned with indicator 58. Indicator 58 may comprise lights that controller 32B may turn on. Controller 32B may then cause display 59 to display the bonus prize, if any, that the player has won.

Backlit Reels