Title:
OFFLINE PAYOUT SYSTEM AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and computer program product for a method includes defining a first data set and a second data set on a handheld device. The first data set defines at least an identity of a winner at an electronic gaming device, The second data set defines at least an amount of winnings. At least a portion of the first data set and at least a portion of the second data set are stored for subsequent submission to a casino management system. The portions stored define transaction data.



Inventors:
Dominguez, Richard (Temecula, CA, US)
Grimsley, Michael Anthony (Menifee, CA, US)
Doan, Luc (Murrieta, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/047688
Publication Date:
09/17/2009
Filing Date:
03/13/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GARNER, WERNER G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & KNIGHT LLP (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: defining a first data set and a second data set, on a handheld device, the first data set defining at least an identity of a winner at an electronic gaming device and the second data set defining at least an amount of winnings; and storing at least a portion of the first data set and at least a portion of the second data set for subsequent submission to a casino management system, wherein the portions stored define transaction data.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein defining the first data set includes processing encoded data to define the identity of the winner.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein defining the second data set includes coupling the handheld device to the electronic gaming device.

4. The method of claim 1 further comprising: generating one or more forms relevant to a procedure for paying out the winnings based, at least in part, upon at least a portion of the transaction data.

5. The method of claim 1 further comprising: processing the transaction data to generate processed transaction data; and storing the processed transaction data.

6. The method of claim 5 further comprising: providing the processed transaction data to an online casino management system.

7. The method of claim 1 further comprising: determining whether a casino management system is online.

8. The method of claim 7 further comprising: if it is determined that the casino management system is online, processing a payment of the amount of winnings on the casino management system.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the handheld device is chosen from the group consisting of: a personal data assistant, a laptop computer, a notebook computer, and a specialized device.

10. A computer program product residing on a computer readable medium having a plurality of instructions stored thereon which, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform operations comprising: defining a first data set and a second data set, on a handheld device, the first data set defining at least an identity of a winner at an electronic gaming device and the second data set defining at least an amount of winnings; and storing at least a portion of the first data set and at least a portion of the second data set for subsequent submission to a casino management system, wherein the portions stored define transaction data.

11. The computer program product of claim 10 wherein the instructions for defining the first data set include instructions for processing encoded data to define the identity of the winner.

12. The computer program product of claim 10 wherein the instructions for defining the second data set include instructions for coupling the handheld device to the electronic gaming device.

13. The computer program product of claim 10 further comprising instructions for: generating one or more forms relevant to a procedure for paying out the winnings based, at least in part, upon at least a portion of the transaction data.

14. The computer program product of claim 10 further comprising instructions for: processing the transaction data to generate processed transaction data; and storing the processed transaction data.

15. The computer program product of claim 14 further comprising instructions for: providing the processed transaction data to an online casino management system.

16. The computer program product of claim 10 further comprising instructions for: determining whether a casino management system is online.

17. The computer program product of claim 16 further comprising instructions for: if it is determined that the casino management system is online, processing a payment of the amount of winnings on the casino management system.

18. The computer program product of claim 10 wherein the handheld device is chosen from the group consisting of: a personal data assistant, a laptop computer, a notebook computer, and a specialized device.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to offline payout systems and, more particularly, to offline payout systems that process winnings when a casino management system is offline.

BACKGROUND

In today's casino gaming environment, electronic gaming devices or electronic gaming machines (EGMs) are increasingly used in ticket-in-ticket-out (i.e., TITO) systems.

A TITO system involves electronic gaming devices (e.g., a slot machine) that are connected to a network and communicate with a casino management system over the network. In a TITO system, the electronic gaming devices typically accept cash, but do not dispense cash winnings. Instead, the electronic gaming device prints out a piece of paper (i.e., a ticket) that may be inserted for credit on other electronic gaming devices or may be redeemed for cash either by presenting the ticket to a cashier or by inserting the ticket at an automated ticket-cashing machine, both within the casino.

Typically, when the casino management system is up and running (i.e., online), the electronic gaming device communicates with the casino management system over a network and reports that a ticket has been dispensed. The casino management system keeps track of all the tickets dispensed by recording this information in a casino management system database. When the ticket is paid out (i.e., processed and redeemed for cash) by an automated ticket-cashing machine or a cashier, the ticket is validated against the database record held by the casino management system, and the casino management system updates the database to reflect the fact that the ticket was paid out (i.e., redeemed) in cash, and is therefore no longer payable or capable of being validated for payment in the future.

Unfortunately, whenever the casino management system is not online (e.g., due to system failure or planned maintenance outage), patrons at the casino may have to wait long periods of time to get paid their winnings, as the tickets cannot be validated against the casino management system database in the usual automated fashion. Instead, alternate casino procedures may be employed to manually validate, approve, and authorize payment.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In a first implementation, a method includes defining a first data set and a second data set on a handheld device. The first data set defines at least an identity of a winner at an electronic gaming device, The second data set defines at least an amount of winnings. At least a portion of the first data set and at least a portion of the second data set are stored for subsequent submission to a casino management system. The portions stored define transaction data.

One or more of the following features may be included. Defining the first data set may include processing encoded data to define the identity of the winner. Defining the second data set may include coupling the handheld device to the electronic gaming device.

One or more forms relevant to a procedure for paying out the winnings may be generated based, at least in part, upon at least a portion of the transaction data. The transaction data may be processed to generate processed transaction data. The processed transaction data may be stored. The processed transaction data may be provided to an online casino management system.

A determination may be made concerning whether a casino management system is online. If it is determined that the casino management system is online, a payment of the amount of winnings may be processed on the casino management system. The handheld device may be chosen from the group consisting of: a personal data assistant, a laptop computer, a notebook computer, and a specialized device.

In another implementation, a computer program product resides on a computer readable medium having a plurality of instructions stored on it. When executed by a processor, the instructions cause the processor to perform operations including defining a first data set and a second data set on a handheld device. The first data set defines at least an identity of a winner at an electronic gaming device, The second data set defines at least an amount of winnings. At least a portion of the first data set and at least a portion of the second data set are stored for subsequent submission to a casino management system. The portions stored define transaction data.

One or more of the following features may be included. Defining the first data set may include processing encoded data to define the identity of the winner. Defining the second data set may include coupling the handheld device to the electronic gaming device.

One or more forms relevant to a procedure for paying out the winnings may be generated based, at least in part, upon at least a portion of the transaction data. The transaction data may be processed to generate processed transaction data. The processed transaction data may be stored. The processed transaction data may be provided to an online casino management system.

A determination may be made concerning whether a casino management system is online. If it is determined that the casino management system is online, a payment of the amount of winnings may be processed on the casino management system. The handheld device may be chosen from the group consisting of: a personal data assistant, a laptop computer, a notebook computer, and a specialized device.

The details of one or more implementations are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features and advantages will become apparent from the description, the drawings, and the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view of an offline payout system coupled to a distributed computing network;

FIG. 2 is a flowchart of part of a process executed by the offline payout system of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of part of a process executed by the offline payout system of FIG. 1.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

System Overview:

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown offline payout system 10. As will be discussed below in greater detail, when a winning patron at a casino (e.g., winner 12) wins at e.g., a casino slot machine (e.g., electronic gaming device 14) on the floor of the casino, the payment may be effectuated by offline payout system 10. The identity of winner 12 may be defined within first data set 16. Additionally, the amount of the winnings may be defined within second data set 18. Examples of electronic gaming device 14 may include but are not limited to electronic slot machines, and electronic poker machines.

While the identity of winner 12 and the amount of the winnings are described as a first data set and a second data set (respectively), this is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to be a limitation of this disclosure. For example, these two pieces of data (e.g., the identity of winner 12 and the amount of the winnings may be included within a single data set, of which first data set 16 is a first portion of the single data set and second data set 18 is a second portion of the single data set).

All or a portion of data sets 16, 18 may be defined on a handheld device (e.g., handheld device 20) and provided to one or more casino systems that facilitates payment of the winnings to winner 12. The portions of first and second data sets 16, 18 that are provided to e.g., the one or more casino systems may form transaction data (e.g., transaction data 22). Examples of handheld device 20 may include but are not limited to a personal data assistant, a laptop computer, a notebook computer, and a specialized device.

Offline payout system 10 may include a client-side portion (e.g., client-side offline payout system 10C) and a server-side portion (e.g., server-side offline payout system 10S) that may work cooperatively to effectuate the functionality of offline payout system 10.

Handheld device 20 may be coupled to distributed computing network 24 (e.g., the Internet or a local area network). Handheld device 20 may include various instruction sets and subroutines (e.g., client-side offline payout system 10C), which may be stored on storage device 26 coupled to/included within handheld device 20 and may be executed by one or more processors (not shown) and one or more memory architectures (not shown) incorporated into handheld device 20.

Examples of storage device 26 may include but are not limited to: a hard disk drive; a random access memory (RAM); a read-only memory (ROM), a compact flash (CF) storage device, a secure digital (SD) storage device, and a memory stick storage device. Handheld device 20 may run an operating system, examples of which may include but are not limited to: Microsoft Windows™, Microsoft Windows CE™, Redhat Linux™, PalmOS™, Apple Mac OS X™, or a custom operating system.

Server-side offline payout system 10S may reside on and may be executed by server computer 28, which may be coupled to network 24 (e.g., the Internet or a local area network). Examples of server computer 28 may include, but are not limited to: a personal computer, a server computer, a series of server computers, a mini computer, and a mainframe computer. Server computer 28 may be a single server or a series of servers running a network operating system, examples of which may include but are not limited to: Microsoft Windows 2003 Server™ Novell Netware™ or Redhat Linux™, for example.

The instruction sets and subroutines of server-side offline payout system 10S, which may be stored on storage device 30 coupled to server computer 28, may be executed by one or more processors (not shown) and one or more memory architectures (not shown) incorporated into server computer 28. Examples of storage device 30 may include but are not limited to: a hard disk drive; a tape drive; an optical drive; a RAID array; a random access memory (RAM); and a read-only memory (ROM).

Server computer 28 may execute a server application, examples of which may include but are not limited to: Microsoft IIS™, Novell Webserver™, or Apache Webserver™, that allows for access to server computer 28 via network 24. Network 24 may be connected to one or more secondary networks (e.g., network 32), examples of which may include but are not limited to: a local area network; a wide area network; or an intranet, for example.

Handheld device 20 may be directly or indirectly coupled to network 24 (or network 32). For example, handheld device 20 is shown wirelessly coupled to network 24 via wireless communication channel 34 established between handheld device 20 and wireless access point (i.e., WAP) 36, which is shown directly coupled to network 24. WAP 36 may be, for example, an IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.15, Bluetooth, and/or infrared device that is capable of establishing wireless communication channel 34 between handheld device 20 and WAP 36. Handheld device 20 may additionally/alternatively be coupled to network 24 via a wired communication channel (not shown) effectuated using a Universal Serial Bus (i.e., USB) port, an IEEE 1394 port, an Ethernet port, a standard parallel port, and/or a standard serial port that is capable of coupling handheld device 20 to network 24.

As is known in the art, all of the IEEE 802.11x specifications may use Ethernet protocol and carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance (i.e., CSMA/CA) for path sharing. The various 802.11x specifications may use phase-shift keying (i.e., PSK) modulation or complementary code keying (i.e., CCK) modulation, for example. As is known in the art, Bluetooth is a telecommunications industry specification that allows e.g., mobile phones, computers, and personal digital assistants to be interconnected using a short-range wireless interface.

System Operation:

Referring also to FIG. 2, assume that winner 12 is a patron of the casino and is playing various electronic games. Further, assume that, upon playing electronic gaming device 14, winner 12 wins a payout from electronic gaming device 14. Accordingly, offline payout system 10 (e.g., client-side offline payout system 10C and/or server-side offline payout system 10S) may be used to effectuate payment of the winnings to winner 12.

Specifically, offline payout system 10 may first determine 100 whether casino management system 38 is online. If it is determined 100 that casino management system 38 is online, the payment of the winnings to winner 12 may be processed 102 on casino management system 38. Such a payment may involve e.g., Ticket-In-Ticket-Out system 40 (or any other casino procedure utilized for regular payment of winnings).

If it is determined 100 that casino management system 38 is not online (i.e., is offline), offline payout system 10 (e.g., client-side offline payout system 10C and/or server-side offline payout system 10S) may be utilized to effectuate payment of the winnings to winner 12.

Additionally/alternatively, the payment of the winnings to winner 12 may also be processed via offline payout system 10 during time when casino management system 38 is online. Accordingly, casino management system 38 being offline is not considered to be a prerequisite to the payment of winnings being effectuated via offline payout system 10.

Upon determining 100 that casino management system 38 is not online (or if it is desired to use offline payout system 10), first data set 16 may be defined 104 on handheld device 20. As discussed above, first data set 16 may include the identity of winner 12 (i.e., the casino patron who won the winnings on electronic gaming device 14).

First data set 16 may be defined (at least in part) by casino floor employee 42, who may manually enter 106 first data set 16 into handheld device 20. First data set 16 may be defined e.g., by casino floor employee 42 asking winner 12 for his/her identity and/or asking winner 12 to provide a form of identification. The requisite information may then be manually entered into handheld device 20 through, e.g., a keypad or touch screen (not shown).

In another embodiment, first data set 16 may be defined 104 by processing 108 data that is encoded within some form of identification, examples of which may include but are not limited to: a driver's license, a membership card (e.g., a casino player's card), a passport, a social security card, or any other government-issued or privately-issued identification. Data may be encoded using a variety of methodologies, examples of which may include but are not limited to a magnetic strip, a barcode, an optical code, an image, or text.

The processing 108 of the encoded data may include reading 110 a magnetic strip, a barcode, or an optical code; or may include scanning 112 an image or text. Accordingly, handheld device 20 may include a magnetic strip reader (not shown), a barcode reader (not shown), or an optical scanner (not shown).

For example, a driver's license or a casino player's card of winner 12 may have data encoded within a magnetic strip included on the driver's license or the casino player's card. A magnetic strip reader (not shown) included within handheld device 20 may read 110 the magnetic strip when the driver's license of winner 12 is swiped through the strip reader. Depending on the manner in which the magnetic strip is configured, the magnetic strip may directly contain the identity of winner 12 or may contain reference data from which the identity of winner 12 may further be determined. For example, a record number or an account number may be defined within the magnetic strip, which may be used to determine the identity of winner 12 via a lookup operation performed on a database (e.g., a motor vehicles database or a casino player's club database).

If the form of identification does not contain a magnetic strip but does include e.g., the name, address and/or photograph of winner 12, handheld device 20 may e.g., scan 112 the driver's license (or other form of identification) with an included scanner (not shown) and may further process 108 the scan by e.g., storing the scan as an image file, conducting optical character recognition to extract text-based data, and storing the text-based data. Additionally/alternatively, face recognition software (not shown) may be utilized to process the photograph included within the driver's license (or other form of identification) to identify the winner 12 from the photograph.

As discussed above, first data set 16 (as defined 104 on handheld device 20) may include the identity of winner 12, either directly (e.g., by name, address, social security number, etc.) or indirectly (e.g., driver's license number, account number(s), photographic image, etc.). Additionally, other pieces of information may be included within first data set 16, examples of which may include but are not limited to the identity of the user of handheld device 20 (e.g., casino floor employee 42), the identity of handheld device 20, and the date/time the information was entered into handheld device 20.

Additionally and as discussed above, second data set 18 (as defined 114 on handheld device 20) may include the amount of the winnings won by winner 12 on electronic gaming device 14. Second data set 18 may be defined (at least in part) by casino floor employee 42, who may manually enter 116 second data set 18 into handheld device 20. This may be achieved e.g., by casino floor employee 42 reviewing a display (not shown) on electronic gaming device 14, reading the amount of winnings from the display, and manually entering the amount into handheld device 20 through e.g., a keypad or touch screen (not shown) included within handheld device 20.

In another embodiment, second data set 18 may be defined 114 by coupling 118 handheld device 20 to electronic gaming device 14. Coupling 118 may be performed in any manner that enables communication to be established between electronic gaming device 14 and handheld device 20, examples of which may include but are not limited to a wired coupling (e.g., via an RS-232 interface, a LAN interface, a Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface, or an IEEE 1394 interface) or a wireless coupling (e.g., via an infrared interface, a radio-frequency interface, a Bluetooth® interface, or a Wi-Fi interface). For example, electronic gaming device 14 and handheld device 20 may each have a USB interface, and upon connecting an appropriate USB cable between them, communication may be established on a USB communication channel. Once communication is established, electronic gaming device 14 may provide (to handheld device 20) the amount of winnings won by winner 12.

Additionally/alternatively, electronic gaming device 14 and handheld device 20 may each have a wireless Bluetooth® interface, and upon bringing handheld device 20 within proximity of electronic gaming device 14, a wireless Bluetooth® communication channel may be established between devices 14, 20.

In addition to defining the amount of winnings won by winner 12, one or more additional pieces of information may be included within second data set 18, examples of which may include but are not limited to the identity of the user of handheld device 20 (e.g., casino floor employee 42), the identity of handheld device 20, the identity of electronic gaming device 14 from which the winnings were won, and the date/time of the winnings.

As discussed above, offline payout system 10 may include a client-side portion (e.g., client-side offline payout system 10C) and a server-side portion (e.g., server-side offline payout system 10S) that may work cooperatively to effectuate the functionality of offline payout system 10. Further and as discussed above, client-side offline payout system 10C may be executed on e.g., handheld device 20 and server-side offline payout system 10S may be executed on server computer 28.

In such a client-side/server-side implementation, at least a portion of first data set 16 and at least a portion of second data set 18 may be provided 124 from client-side offline payout system 10C to server-side offline payout system 10S. The portion of first data set 16 that is provided 124 to server-side offline payout system 10S may include but is not limited to the identity of winner 12. The portion of second data set 18 that is provided 124 to server-side offline payout system 10S may include but is not limited to the amount of winnings. As discussed above, the various portion(s) of first data set 16 and second data set 18 that are provided to server-side offline payout system 10S may be known collectively as transaction data 22. As discussed above, transaction data 22 may be provided 124 from client-side offline payout system 10C to server-side offline payout system 10S via e.g., wireless communication channel 34 and network 24.

Transaction data 22 may be provided 124 from client-side offline payout system 10C to server-side offline payout system 10S through any of a number of different interfaces and mechanisms. For example, handheld device 20 (i.e., the device that executes client-side offline payout system 10C) may be coupled to server computer 28 (i.e., the computer that executes server-side offline payout system 10S) via a direct cable interface (e.g., an RS-232 interface, a Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface, or an IEEE 1394 interface). In such a case, handheld device 20 may transmit 126 transaction data 22 to server computer 28 over the direct cable interface.

Alternatively, handheld device 20 (i.e., the device that executes client-side offline payout system 10C) may be coupled to server computer 28 (i.e., the computer that executes server-side offline payout system 10S) via a wireless interface (e.g., wireless communication channel 34 between WAP 36 and handheld device 20) in conjunction with e.g., network 24. In one such embodiment, WAP 36 may be coupled to network 24 and may enable communication between handheld device 20 and network 24 via wireless communication channel 34. Accordingly, handheld device 20 may wirelessly transmit 128 transaction data 22 over wireless communication channel 34. Transaction data 22 may be received by WAP 36 and forwarded through network 24 to server computer 28.

Transaction data 22 that is provided 124 by handheld device 20 may be received and stored 130 by e.g., server-side offline payout system 10S. Specifically, transaction data 22 may be stored on storage device 30 coupled to server computer 28 (i.e., the computer that executes server-side offline payout system 10S).

Transaction data 22 may be processed 132 by client-side offline payout system 10C and/or server-side offline payout system 10S to define processed transaction data 46. Processing 132 transaction data 22 may include generating 134 one or more forms relevant to a procedure for paying out the winnings (e.g., casino approval and authorization forms, and tax-related forms) to winner 12. Processing 132 transaction data 22 may also include storing processed transaction data 46 (e.g., that may include transaction data 22 and/or payment data) for future processing, or for future notification to the casino management system 38 (e.g., at a time when casino management system 38 is online).

For example, casino procedures may require that one or more cashiers and/or one or more managers sign an authorization form before cash is paid out to winner 10. Such a form may be generated 134 by either handheld device 20 (i.e., if capable of printing forms) or by server-side offline payout system 10S through a direct or network attached printer (e.g., printer 44). Such a form may define e.g., the identity of winner 12 and the amount of the winnings won by winner 12. Such a form may also include a control/validation number, the identity of handheld device 20, the identity of the user (e.g., casino floor employee 42) of handheld device 20, the identity of electronic gaming device 14, and the date/time of the win on electronic gaming device 14.

Further, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms (and/or other state, local, or municipal taxing authority) may require that some winnings have a tax-related form generated 134 and/or have the transaction reported to the taxing authority. For example, the IRS may require that a W2G form be generated 134 for certain gambling winnings.

As mentioned above, processing 132 transaction data 22 may include storing 136 processed transaction data 46 for future processing and/or for providing 138 to casino management system 38. Server-side offline payout system 10S may store 136 processed transaction data 46 on e.g., storage device 30. Further, server-side offline payout system 10S may provide 138 all (or a portion of) processed transaction data 46 to casino management system 38 either immediately or at some future time. Specifically, if casino management system 38 is currently not online (i.e., is offline), server-side offline payout system 10S may store 136 processed transaction data 46 until casino management system 38 is online. For example, server-side offline payout system 10S may store 136 processed transaction data 46 on storage device 30 coupled to server computer 28. The stored 136 process transaction data 46 may include, but is not limited to, transaction data 22, payment data (e.g., a record that the winnings have actually been paid out in cash), or any other information that is desired/required by casino procedure(s), such as authorized user, date and time data, control/validation data, and the identity of electronic gaming device 14.

A number of implementations have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made. Accordingly, other implementations are within the scope of the following claims.