Title:
MOBILE PAPERLESS WAGERING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mobile wireless, paperless gaming system is described, including a location aware center, LAC, or WiFi hot spot. The LAC is the only location that allows communications with the gaming system. The LAC may contain a terminal with a resident gaming application, a cash handler and display and scanner facilities. The player accesses the game via a mobile device, illustratively operating a touch screen, and utilizes a lottery or non-lottery payment account that is approved by the game sponsor or owner, thereby validating and authorizing the player to wager on a game. The games and wagers are displayed on the mobile device and the player makes his selections. The results are relayed back to the player's mobile device and the account debited resulting accordance with the amount wagered. The game application may be resident at the hot spot or at the remote controller or at another remote location accessible via the communications network.



Inventors:
Lupo, Stephen (Westerly, RI, US)
Cautley, Paul Charles R. (Ridgefield, CT, US)
Application Number:
12/028902
Publication Date:
08/13/2009
Filing Date:
02/11/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TORIMIRO, ADETOKUNBO OLUSEGUN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sullivan and Worcester (Wasington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for processing and supervising a wireless gaming activity, the system comprising: an account for a gaming player that may be credited, debited and monitored by a sponsor of the gaming activity; a location aware center having a first computing system that accommodates the gaming activity; the computing system comprising: a first sender/receiver for wireless communication to and from a mobile device; a second sender/receiver for communications to a communications network; and a processor and memory suitable for executing a gaming application; a remote central controller of the gaming activity; a network for sending/receiving wireless communications between the location aware center and the central controller.

2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a payment account and access credentials wherein an amount of money associated with a lottery or non-lottery account is validated and authorized for wagering.

3. The system of claim 1 further comprising: an identification code and a password wherein the gaming player becomes authorized by the gaming processor when the player sends the codes from the mobile device.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the gaming application is resident in a location remote from the location aware center and from the central controller and wherein the gaming application is accessible via the network.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein the gaming application is executed by and resident in the location aware center.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein the gaming application is executed by and resident in the central controller.

7. The system of claim 1 wherein the mobile device comprises a display that signals the gaming result to the game player.

8. The system of claim 6 wherein the computing system in the location aware center includes a scanner arranged to scan the mobile device display and input the display contents to the computer system within the location aware center.

9. The system of claim 1 wherein the network is a virtual private network.

10. A method for processing and supervising a wireless gaming activity, the method comprising the steps of: establishing an account for a gaming player that may be credited, debited and monitored by a sponsor of the gaming activity; forming a location aware center having a first computing system that accommodates the gaming activity; wirelessly transferring gaming information between a mobile device and the location aware center, and communicating gaming information between the location aware center and a distal central controller via a communications network; a network for sending/receiving wireless communications between the location aware center and the central controller.

11. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of inquiring of a redemption code and a personal identification number wherein an amount of money is validated and authorized for wagering.

12. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of: establishing a redemption and PIN code wherein the gaming player becomes authorized by a gaming sponsor when the player sends the codes from the mobile device.

13. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of locating the gaming application in a location remote from the location aware center and from the central controller and wherein the gaming application is accessible via the network.

14. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of locating the gaming application in the location aware center.

15. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of locating and executing the gaming application in the central controller.

16. The system of claim 10 further comprising the step of transferring gaming data to a display on the mobile device.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising the step of scanning the mobile device display into the computer system within the location aware center.

18. A gaming system comprising: a first receiver, wherein the receiver responds only to selected wireless signals from a mobile device; a processor that receives the first gaming data; a gaming application executed by the processor wherein the mobile device participates in a game; a first sender activated by the processor that sends wireless signals to a remote central controller via communications network, wherein the central controller produces second gaming data; a program at the central controller that processes the second gaming data; a second sender at the central controller that sends processed second gaming data to the processor via the communications network; a second receiver that receives the processed second data and a third sender that sends information to the mobile device, wherein the mobile device displays the information.

19. The gaming system of claim 18 further comprising: an identification code and a password code sent from the mobile device and processed to authorized the player operating the mobile device to place a wager.

20. The gaming system of claim 18 further comprising: a redemption code and personal identification code sent from the mobile device and processed to validate and authorize the player operating the mobile device to place a wager.

21. The system of claim 18 further comprising a gaming application is executed by the central controller.

22. The system of claim 18 wherein the gaming application is resident in a location remote from the first receiver and from the central controller and wherein the gaming application is accessible via the communications network.

23. The system of claim 18 wherein the communication network is a private network that is accessible only by the gaming system.

24. The system of claim 18 wherein the mobile device has a touch screen and display suitable for showing a bar code.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to gaming systems and methods, and more particularly to mobile wireless, paperless gaming systems.

2. Background Information

Lottery systems are well known in the Untied States. Generally, these systems involved selecting a group of numbers that are on a printed ticket from an authorized vendor or agent of the lottery. The numbers are drawn and winners present their ticket(s) to a vendor and receive a prize, usually money. Variations involve use of the U.S. mail, and issuance of “scratch” tickets which involve scratching off a covering to expose numbers or other indicia, which identify the game piece as an immediate winner or loser. The pre-ceding is only illustrative of the many types of different games that share a common theme.

The gaming systems are expanding by using cellular, Internet or other such wire and/or wireless combination networks.

Illustrative of the present state of the art, several U.S. patent applications have been published. One is Pub. No. US 2007/0093296A1 ('296), entitled, “System and Method for Wireless Lottery”; and, another is US2007/0213118 ('118), entitled, “Method for Participating in Lottery Draw over a Cellular Network and System thereof.”

The '296 publication requires use of a mobile device (cell phone, iPhone, Blackberry, and the like) with a location determination for awarding sales to a nearby authorized retailer when the purchase is made. Details disclosed include limiting access and availability (to comply with the law, etc.) and use of private wireless systems. A private network may include virtual private networks (VPNs) as known in the art.

The '118 publication discloses a cellular system to participate in lottery drawings. A central computer is linked via a network to a drawing center and to a mobile device used by a lottery participant. Access codes and recorded instructions aid the secure execution of the user selections in drawings and confirmation reporting and charging or crediting the user via the cellular network are described. This disclosure does not address compliance with U.S. Federal wagering laws, and more specifically the Federal Wire Wager Act of 1961.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses compliance with the Federal Wire Wager Act of 1961 by providing a location sensitive service that allows players who wish to participate by placing a wager in a game (defined herein as a lottery, sporting event or casino game) to physically enter a location (an authorized gaming hot spot) where such gaming is legal and use their mobile devices to enter wagers with remote locations where such gaming is legal.

Illustratively, the player is allowed to physically enter the gaming hot spot and, using a mobile device, place secure wagers in games provided and controlled by remote entities, e.g., authorized lotteries. The player's mobile device may be able to communicate with a game application server only from within the gaming hot spot. The player, in this instance, may not be able to access generally the Internet or other networks (cell or regular telephone) via the gaming hot spot. The game application server may reside within the hot spot, at a remote POS (point of sale) location or at a remote central location where the game is controlled and administered.

The system allows for registered or anonymous players to participate. Illustratively, the player originating wagers and payments will be processed only by the lottery or game network and, thus, not traverse the general Internet or cell phone networks. Both registered and anonymous players must establish a source of and amount of money that must be accepted by the lottery or gaming entity. When accepted, the player is authorized. Illustratively, players may use previously established electronic wallets (e.g., PayPal, Lottery Wallet, etc.) for payment and where winnings may be automatically deposited. Registered players may receive winning notifications and winning numbers sent via e-mail or SMS (Short Message Service—cell phone texting) messages.

From the player's mobile device keypad, the player may place wager and payment authorization requests. The player's request is transferred to the central lottery or gaming controller that will confirm that the player's method of payment is authorized and process the wager request. The response message includes wager and payment details presented to the player which may include game selection, wager amount and confirmation code, payment authorization code, and a validation barcode. (The above is meant to be informative and illustrative but not complete or determinative.)

The wager confirmation code may represent a lottery ticket serial number, or an equivalent, depending on the game selected. Illustratively, the bar code displayed on the mobile device may be scanned for winning status.

In some applications, the wagers may be stored on the lottery or game server and a copy may be stored on their mobile device.

In other applications, the lottery or game server may be arranged as a client/server application, but a browser based mobile client application may also be used to advantage.

Secure communications may employ responsible gaming aspects that verify the age and residence of the player and the availability of the wagered money and receipt of winnings.

In addition, lottery gift cards may be used. Such cards will usually have a redemption code and a PIN (Personal Identification Number) hidden under a latex layer. Other “cash cards” may require ID numbers and authorization codes (passwords) so that the dollar amounts are secure and accessible only by the owners.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that although the following Detailed Description will proceed with reference being made to illustrative embodiments, the drawings, and methods of use, the present invention is not intended to be limited to these embodiments and methods of use. Rather, the present invention is of broad scope and is intended to be defined as only set forth in the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention description below refers to the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of one illustrative paperless wireless gaming system;

FIGS. 2A and 2B are flow charts illustrating player interaction with the gaming system; and

FIG. 3 is a system schematic block diagram illustrating hardware and software that may be implemented in an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 illustrates a mobile wireless, paperless gaming system. Herein the description will focus on a lottery, but the present invention may be advantageously applied to virtually any other gaming system, e.g., sports wagering, slot machine or other casino type games.

In FIG. 1, a player using a mobile device 10 may participate in a lottery, sports wagering or other such game. The player and his mobile device physically enter a specific location, an LAC 12 (Location Aware Center), e.g., a WiFi hot spot dedicated to wagering, having a physical device that will accept transmissions from the mobile device. In this embodiment, only in the hot spot may the mobile device communicate with a game application.

The player will have at least a working mobile device with a broadcast spectrum that the LAC can read. The mobile device will have a touch screen and display that allows bidirectional communications between the gaming system and the player. In some instances, a telephone key pad or laptop PC keyboard also may be used.

The registered player will usually have already established a financial account with money credited. This account may be via a credit or debit card, a bank account, or an account accepted by or created by the game sponsor or owner for the registered user. An anonymous player may be able to use a gift card, a credit or debit card or cash that the central controller may verify and authorize prior to allowing the player to wager on a game. For example, a credit card may be scanned at the hot spot and validated (say, via the central controller) before the player is authorized to play. Alternatively, the player may select a payment method, such as PayPal, and request authorization as part of the wager request transaction. In this case, the payment is verified by the central controller before the player is authorized to play. The game sponsor or owner typically is a U.S. State, foreign country lottery or a casino, etc.

Still referring to FIG. 1, there may be a LAC 12 arranged only to allow mobile devices to access wirelessly 11 the lottery and/or games offered at the LAC 12. The location will be established physically where such gaming activity is legal. The LAC 12 may include a gaming terminal server 14 that is similar to a typical lottery terminal server found in an authorized establishment within the state or casino sponsoring the game. Generally, the LAC will possess processors, memory, storage, communications and I/O (input/output) capabilities for handling the gaming requirements (see FIG. 3). The gaming terminal server 14 will communicate with a central controller 16 via a private POS (Point of Sale) network 18. Alternatively, the LAC 12 may be a smart router or switch 24 that handles communications to and from the mobile device 10 and routes communications 20 directly to and from a remote terminal server 17 or the central lottery or gaming center 16 (that contains the terminal server application) via the POS network 18. In either case, the inputs from mobile device may communicate with the central lottery or game controller 16 via the POS network 18 for processing. The central lottery controller responds via the same path.

The LAC 12, alone, or the POS network 18, when provided, may have the ability to monitor the transactions between the mobile devices 10 and the POS network 18.

In some embodiments, cash 22 may be handled at the LAC 12 and/or a credit card reader and an optical scanner may be available. In some instances, a gift card may be used where a redemption and PIN number may be automatically read via a card reader 21 or a bar code scanner 23. Mobile bar codes may be used for lottery promotions and the like in addition to validations.

In order for a player to wager on a selected game, the host or central controller 16 must authorize the player for some amount of money. In practice, the player may be anonymous, that is with no pre-authorized account, or the player may be registered via a previous interaction with the host wherein the player's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address are on file with proper security codes, e.g., identification number and a password.

FIG. 2A illustrates the authorization process. A player must establish an account 30. One way would be to buy a gift card of a specific monetary amount. Typically, the gift card would be purchased at a terminal, e.g., a lottery-type terminal or a vending machine. The gift card will have a redemption code that is the equivalent of an account identification and a PIN code. The PIN code must be uncovered as it is often covered with a latex or some type of “read-proof” layer. In other embodiments, the player may utilize a “PayPal account”, a “lottery wallet,” or other such bank-type accounts with the central controller that may be later accessed by the player using an ID and a password associated with the account. In some cases the player may insert money directly and be given an account number wherein the player may enter a password. In any event, the online host or central controller is notified 32 that the gift card has been sold or that an account has been opened with a given amount of money. Typically, the player may be notified 34 via email or by cell-phone texting that the money is available for wagering.

In one illustrative operation shown in FIG. 2A, the player may bring his/her gift card to an LAC 12. There may be a message within the LAC 12 that instructs the player on how to use their wireless device within the LAC hot spot. The message may be displayed on a screen or there may be a phone or an attendant that will instruct the player. In any event, the player is taught how to access the hotspot, register, play and how to redeem money from accounts or link to other gift cards or how to enter money into an account. The player then, using his/her mobile device, accesses 36 the wireless LAC 12. At this point, the gaming system display a list of instructions to the player regarding how to register and be authorized to play, how to play, and how to activate his/her gift card to redeem money. The player then is prompted to register 38 where the player may be asked if he/she wants to be anonymous 40 or registered 42. If the player is registered 42, the player inputs, and the system collects 44, his/her identification information including a phone number and/or an e-mail address. The lottery agent may participate in the registration process utilizing the lottery terminal network collecting and submitting player information input.

If the player selected anonymous 46, the player is questioned for approval by a lottery-agent 48. The lottery agent (who may authorize wagering games in addition to lottery-type games) may be at the LAC 12, or may be remote from the LAC 12 and accessed via a communications network. The lottery agent may verify the player's age and residency and that the player accepts any other terms associated with accessing the gaming system. The player or lottery agent may use a scanner at the LAC 12 to scan a bar code on the gift card, or otherwise information on his account. The information is sent to the central controller and a verification/activation is returned 50.

When activated, the player is given access to the gaming system 54. In one embodiment, the client application may be termed a “thin client” where the player enters a URL (universal resource locator) that returns a “browser-type” display to the player. The player then via a mouse-type action selects a download of the gaming application. Alternatively, the client application may be termed a “thick client” where the player may directly access the URL for the gaming application and download the gaming application. In either event, the gaming application is launched 56.

FIG. 2B illustrates the process flow when the gaming application is launched 56. When the application is launched a “welcome” message is sent to the player's mobile device along with terms 58 regarding the player's wagering, debiting and crediting his/her account and eligibility to participate. If the player does not accept 60 the terms, a signoff message 62 is sent back to the mobile device and the player exits 64 the application. If the player accepts 66 the terms 58, the system returns a menu comprising a list of available games 68 to the player's mobile device. Those games may include a varied list of lottery type games, e.g., Powerball, Lotto, Keno, Numbers and various game play options (e.g., Quick Picks), and other games equivalent to scratch tickets, etc. The player selects a game 70 via a touch screen or other such input on his mobile device. Alternatively, the player may select a HELP 72 menu for additional game functions or select to exit 74 the game and be returned to the Sign-Off page 62. If the player does not exit, he/she may be returned to the Game List 68 page. When a game is selected 70, a series of game options 78 may be presented to the player. Each option 78 may be series of information presented to the player regarding the selected game. Often, the player will need to respond to each presentation. Where a player initiates play 80, the payment source and method is presented 82. When payment is authorized and confirmed 84, the player may place a wager 86, whereupon a wager receipt 88 may be sent to the player's mobile device. Where payment is not authorized 81, another payment method 83 may be tried. If the player accepts, he/she is returned to the payment method step 82. If the player does not wish to try another payment method 87, the player is exited 64 from the game. When payment is authorized 84, the game is played and concludes 90, and the player's account is debited or credited 90. The player may then play again or quit 92. If the player quits, he/she is returned to the Sign-Off page 62. If the player elects to continue playing, he/she is returned 76 to the game list menu 68.

In some applications, the operating steps between the player's mobile device and the game application of the FIG. 2B flow chart are performed at the LAC 12, but with the payment authorization and approval referred to the host of central controller. That is, the gaming application is resident at the LAC 12, but money control remains at the host. However, in other applications, some of the steps (or all of the steps) may describe interaction between the player's mobile device and the host system. In these different embodiments, the simpler complexity reduces the cost of the LAC 12, but at the expense of more high speed traffic between the LAC 12 and the host and a more sophisticated host and communications system.

FIG. 3 illustrates the hardware and software that may be found in the various elements that constitute FIG. 1. For example, the location aware center 12 and terminal server 14 may have a processor 70, memory 72 (both ROM and RAM) for storing the applications and other data (e.g., money wagered, redemption numbers and PIN codes, ID's passwords, etc.), disk-type storage 74 and I/O and communications interfaces 77 [dup] sufficient to run the location aware center as if it were a POS terminal or a system that communicates with a remote POS terminal. The system of FIG. 3 communicates with a mobile device input and with a central controller via a network.

The memory 72 may contain an operating system 78, a memory manager 83, I/O drivers 82, a communications manager 81 and various gaming applications 80.

In one embodiment, the location aware center (LAC) 12 may be arranged with enough power to run, for the most part, independently from the central controller 16. In such an instance, the LAC 12 may only communicate results and ask for authorization from the central controller 16. However, in other embodiments, the LAC 12 may have minimal computing power where upon the game application being implemented by the player may reside in the remote central controller. For example, there may be no gaming terminal server 14 at the LAC 12.

In yet other embodiments, and depending upon the particular game, the capabilities may be split between the LAC and the central controller. The sponsoring or owning entity may expand the capabilities of the computer system within the LAC bearing the higher expense of possibly many such systems, or the entity may reduce the computing power and reduce the cost of the computer system at the LAC. Various scenarios may evolve depending upon the particular application. Such flexibilities may be built into the computing system hardware and software the central controller. In such cases, any LAC may, by an identification number or by name, etc., be sent to the central controller when the location aware system logs onto the POS and be handled by the central controller as a rudimentary gaming system, where the central controller runs the gaming at that location. Alternatively, the location aware center may be a sophisticated gaming system that runs the games with only minimal interaction with the central controller.

It should be understood that above-described embodiments are being presented herein as examples and that many variations and alternatives thereof are possible. Accordingly, the present invention should be viewed broadly as being defined only as set forth in the hereinafter appended claims.