AU2003200581B2 - Method and Apparatus for Controlling the Cost of Playing an Electronic Gaming Device - Google Patents

Method and Apparatus for Controlling the Cost of Playing an Electronic Gaming Device Download PDF

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AU2003200581B2
AU2003200581B2 AU2003200581A AU2003200581A AU2003200581B2 AU 2003200581 B2 AU2003200581 B2 AU 2003200581B2 AU 2003200581 A AU2003200581 A AU 2003200581A AU 2003200581 A AU2003200581 A AU 2003200581A AU 2003200581 B2 AU2003200581 B2 AU 2003200581B2
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player
step
bonus
controller
machine
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AU2003200581A1 (en
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John F. Acres
Alec Ginsburg
David Wiebenson
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International Game Technology
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International Game Technology
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Assigned to IGT reassignment IGT Request for Assignment Assignors: ACRES GAMING INCORPORATED
Priority claimed from AU2006203564A external-priority patent/AU2006203564B2/en
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P100/011 28/5/91 Regulation 3.2

AUSTRALIA

Patents Act 1990

ORIGINAL

COMPLETE SPECIFICATION STANDARD PATENT Name of Applicant: Actual Inventors Address for service is: Acres Gaming, Inc.

John F Acres, Alec Ginsburg and David Wiebenson WRAY ASSOCIATES Level 4, The Quadrant 1 William Street Perth, WA 6000 Attorney code: WR Invention Title: Method and Apparatus for Controlling the Cost of Playing an Electronic Gaming Device Details of Divisional Application No: 32346/99 Filed on 31 May 1999 The following statement is a full description of this invention, including the best method of performing it known to me:- 1/2 Field of the Invention The present invention relates to electronic gaming machines, also referred to herein as gaming devices, interconnected by a computer network and more particularly to a method of configuring such machines.

Description of the Related Art This specification describes aspects of prior art networked gaming device systems. However, neither such aspects of prior art networked gaming device systems nor the description contained herein of such aspects of prior art networked gaming device systems is to be taken as forming part of the common general knowledge solely by virtue of the inclusion herein of reference to and description of such aspects of prior art networked gaming device systems.

Casinos typically include electronic gaming machines (EGMs) such as slot machines and video poker machines. The slot machines usually includes three reels that each have a plurality of symbols printed thereon. After the player applies a wager to the machine, he or she starts play by triggering a switch that starts the reels spinning. Each reel stops at a random position and thereby presents three symbols one from each reel. Some combinations of symbols do not pay any jackpot. Others pay varying amounts according to predetermined combinations that appear in a pay table displayed on the machine.

Video poker machines include a video monitor upon which the images of cards appear, as if dealt by a dealer from a shuffled deck, in response to player inputs to the machine. The player wins jackpots dependent upon the amount wagered and in accordance with the cards that are dealt.

When a new EGM, whether a slot or poker machine, is made available for gaming, it must first be configured. A programmable read only memory (PROM) is installed in each new EGM. The PROM includes data that controls the behavior of the machine, and typically also includes data that establishes the 1/3payback percentage, such data being referred to herein as the paytable. The paytable defines the average percentage of wagers that is returned to the players in the form of jackpots over time. Gaming regulations in many jurisdictions require the paytable to be stored in the PROM. The PROM must consequently be changed if the casino desires to change the paytable. Some jurisdictions, however, permit the casino to change the paytable by setting options at each EGM. Such options are selected by using a key switch at each machine that places the machine into a configuration mode. When in this mode, the casino employee configures the machine for such things as the maximum jackpot that can be paid by the machine before a hand payment is required. The rate at which the jackpot meter increments may also be selected as well as special effects generated by the machine in response to a jackpot. And if the jurisdiction permits, the paytable may be changed when the machine is in the configuration mode. Otherwise, the only way to change the paytable is to replace the PROM with another containing a different paytable.

Poker machines, when placed in a configuration mode as described above, display information about the status of the various options on the video monitor that is used to display the cards and other information when the game is played.

On the poker machine, sound, background color, and card decoration, which may be configured to display the casino's logo, are examples of the parameters that can be changed when the machine is in the configuration mode. It is easier to configure the poker machine because the monitor displays the status of various options as well as lists of options, from which a parameter can be selected and implemented. Slot machines, on the other hand, do not have a monitor and are therefore difficult to configure because the only displays available to indicate status are four-digit alphanumeric readouts that are used to display the amounts on the credit meter or the jackpot meter. Configuring a slot machine as described above can take about twenty to thirty minutes of casino time. Installing machines in a new casino, which may number in the thousands, or changing the parameters on pre-existing machines, is consequently a very labor intensive process.

It is also a process that lends itself to implementing, either inadvertently or otherwise, the wrong parameters. Thus, a group of machines that are supposed to be configured identically may include one or more that vary from one another because of an incorrect input during the configuration process.

Some EGMs include a primary game and a secondary game. For example, the primary game may include a slot machine that periodically permits the player to play the secondary game before the next reel spin on the slot machine. Some secondary games award a prize after the player spins a wheel. The prize is indicated on a sector of the wheel, which stops at a random location after being spun. Because the secondary game must be configured in the same manner as the primary game, the same types of disadvantages are associated with secondary games.

In addition, some EGMs include a dedicated progressive in which a percentage of all wagers made on that machine goes into a separate pool that is awarded by the machine. The payback percentage for such a game must also be configured, either by the casino or via a paytable included in a PROM, and therefore presents similar problems.

It would be desirable for a casino operating a plurality of EGMs to be able to change the effective wager per unit time required of a player of the machines.

The wager per unit time, which is the cost to the player for playing the EGMs, is a function of the payback percentage and the game speed. The faster the game speed and the lower the payback percentage, the more money the casino retains, and vice versa. Increasing the wager per unit time increases casino revenues up to a point. If the casino simply selects a very low payback percentage (or a very fast game speed) on all of its machines, the players may feel that they get better returns elsewhere. It would, however, be desirable for the casino to be able to vary the wager per unit time in accordance with the demand on the casino floor. In other words, during evenings and into the early morning hours on weekends and especially on certain holidays there are greater numbers of players placing wagers than, on a Tuesday morning between 7:00 am and noon. It would therefore be desirable for the casino to set the cost to the player at a higher level during high demand periods and at a lower level, to attract players, during low demand periods.

It would be quite cumbersome to change payback percentage, either by switching the PROMs from machines, or by placing the machine in a configuration mode in jurisdictions that permit changing pay tables in response to casino configuration. Changing game speed by switching PROMs or by placing the machine in a configuration mode would be equally cumbersome. It would be impractical to make such changes in a large casino even weekly, much less daily.

In addition to varying the cost to the players, the wager per unit time, in response to periods of high and low demand in the casino, it would be desirable to change the player cost in response to the status of a particular player. The casino likes to track players to identify big players and to conduct direct mail marketing. Casino management therefore encourages players to sign up for, receive, and use a player tracking card, which the player inserts into a card reader associated with each EGM. The casino can therefore identify players based on previous or current rates of play and vary the wager per unit time for that player accordingly.

It might also be desirable to change the cost to the player depending upon their status as a person that the casino would like to encourage to play their games or as the companion of such a person or of a person known to wager large amounts. Changing player cost in response to player status by switching PROMs or reconfiguring the machines is not possible.

In addition to the foregoing it would be desirable to change the manner in which the player perceives the EGM. In other words, it would be desirable to change the sound effects and appearance of the machine in response to time, the rate at which the interconnected machines are played, or the status of a player.

19. J i. 2006 10:21 No. 1125 P. 6

VO

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of operating electronic gaming machines interconnected by a computer network to a host computer comprising: permitting play to occur at the machines; lt~ operating a player-tracking system on the network: o monitoring the level of play of a tracked player on multiple gaming machines; C1 transmitting data relating to the monitored level over the network; 0 storing the data on a computer connected to the network; 0 selecting a machine being played by the player; determining a bonus based at least in part on the stored data; and paying the bonus to the player via the selected machine.

Preferably, said method further comprises issuing a computer command from the host computer.

Preferably, paying the bonus to the player via the selected machine comprises paying the bonus to the player via the selected machine responsive to the computer command.

Preferably, said method further comprises implementing a pay table in each machine and wherein said bonus is independent of any payment to the player resulting from the pay table.

COMS ID No: SBMI-04205417 Received by IP Australia: Time 12:25 Date 2006-07-19 19. Jul. 2006 10:21 No. 1125 P. 7 -6- NO BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 0 The present invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1 is an illustration of an embodiment of a system for monitoring 0o Sand configuring gaming devices.

en 10 Figure 2 is a block diagram of an embodiment of an electronic module o associated with each gaming device to permit monitoring and configuring thereof.

Figure 3 is a schematic diagram of a data communication node of the electronic module of Figure 2.

Figure 4 is a schematic diagram of a discrete machine interface circuit of the electronic module of Figure 2.

Figure 5 is a schematic diagram of a player tracking module of the electronic module of Figure 2.

Figure 6 is a schematic diagram of a card reader circuit of the electronic module of Figure 2.

COMS ID No: SBMI-04205417 Received by IP Australia: Time 12:25 Date 2006-07-19 7 FIG. 7A is an exploded view of an embodiment of a card reader.

FIG. 7B is a rear perspective view of the card reader of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 7C is a front perspective view of the card reader of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of a display circuit of the player tracking module of FIG. 2.

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of a personality board of the electronic module of FIG. 2.

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram of a triac driver circuit of the electronic module of FIG. 2.

FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram of a relay driver circuit of the electronic module of FIG. 2.

FIG. 12 is a block diagram of a communication board included in each floor controller of FIG. 1.

FIG. 13 is a flow chart for the power-on procedure for the data communication node (DON) of FIG. 2, which is implemented in firmware executed by the DCN controller.

FIG. 14 is a flow chart for processing of the discrete gaming device inputs, of FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a flow chart for the step of incrementing meter counts associated with each gaming device of FIG. 14, which is implemented in firmware executed by the DCN controller.

FIG. 16 is a flow chart for the step of processing the serial interface between the gaming device and the data communication node of FIG. 13, which is implemented in firmware executed by the DCN controller.

FIG. 17 is a flow chart for the step of processing the network interface between the floor controller and the data communication node of FIG. 13, which is implemented in firmware executed by the DCN controller.

FTIG 13 is a flow chart. for the step of processitig thle network niess;age of FIG. 1.7, which is implemented in firmware exectuted by the DCN controller.

FIG .19 is a flow chart for the step of processing the data Scommunimcation node request of FIG. 18, which is nImpfeixientt d in firmnware executed by the DCN controller.

FIG. 20 is a flow chiart for thle step of FI( 1:3 of processing Hte player trackinug interface, which is iniplen'ientedl m irmware execctitc hy the f)CN controller.

FIG. 21, is a flow chart for the step of processIng a valid inse rLted card of.FIG. 20, which is implented in firinware executed by the DCN controller, FIG. 22 is a flow chart for tUhe step of proces:;ing player tracking information ofFIG. 21, which is implemented inl firmware execlitCel by the.

IS LW N controller.

FIG 231 is a flow chart For the powerl roceur for the pl ayer trackinlg (VP) node of FIG. 2, which is imiplemented in f1IrTmIIwae Xcuted by the I"1' control Icr.

FIG.' '24 is a flow chzirt for the step of processing thelC in torlt ace .0 Of 1,iG. 2, AI ic i implcecu ted in 3,6i irinwarte execttd I y Ote M' conitroller.

PIG. 25 Is a flow chart for the step of processing the DCN mressage of FIG. 24, whichi is implemeinted in firmnware executed b~y the VPT controller.

FIG. 26 is a flow chart for the step of processing the cardl re ader bezel u 1 .dnte of FIG. 23, which is iflp rlee ted(!( in firmiware exeeu trot by the PT corboller.

FIG, 27 is a flow chart for the step of processing the card realer of FRIG. 23, which is implemented in firmnware executed by the PT controller.

9/1 FIG. 28 is a flow chart for the power-on floor controller process, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG. 29 is a flow chart for the message processing step of FIG. 28, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG. 30 is a flow chart for the message handling step of FIG. 29, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG. 31 is a flow chart for the step of assigning unique machine addresses of FIG. 30, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG. 32 is a flow chart for the system monitoring step of FIG. 28, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG. 33 is a flow chart for the event handling step of FIG. 32, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG 34. is a flow chart for a bonus control, which is implemented in software executed by the floor controller.

FIG. 35 is a schematic diagram of an embodiment of a plurality of electronic gaming machines interconnected by a computer network to a host computer in which the method in accordance with the present invention may be performed.

FIG. 36 is a schematic diagram of a slot machine and associated hardware which is typical of each of the electronic gaming machines in the network shown in Fig. FIG. 37 is a flow chart that depicts operation of the FIG. 35 network in accordance with an embodiment of the method of the present invention.

-9/2- FIG. 38 is an exemplary time line for a one week period that shows changes in the player cost per unit time in response to the time of day.

FIG. 39 is an exemplary time line for a one year period that shows changes in the player cost per unit time in response to the day of the year.

FIG. 40 is an exemplary pay table for an electronic gaming machine in the network shown in Figs 35 and 36.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION An embodiment of a system for operating networked gaming devices and an associated computer network are described herein in detail with reference to Figures 1 to 34 of the accompanying drawings. Embodiments of the method of the present invention are described herein with particular reference to Figures to 40 and may be implemented in a system and network as described with reference to Figures 1 to 34.

A Table of Contents for the Detailed Description is set out below.

Table of Contents I. SYSTEM ORGANIZATION A. SYSTEM OVERVIEW B. DATA COMMUNICATION NODE 1. OVERVIEW 2. CONTROLLER AND MEMORY 3. NETWORK INTERFACE 4. SERIAL MACHINE INTERFACE -9/3- SERIAL DISPLAY INTERFACE 6. DISCRETE MACHINE INTERFACE 7. MACHINE CONFIGURATION C, P plYIRTR ACIN( MOD)ULE 12. SriUml, iIAY CIRCUIT 3 SERIAL. EAVANSION PORTS 4. CAin) i{EADIt IiSPLAY I) ISCRItT INPUIT SECTION ).PERSO,1(NALi-xY

BOIARD)

E. 10(INS DISPLAY DR 1VERS I0 p. lR ONTPRO1LEH.

0i PUKRATIU)N A. DATA (IM NiUNiA(N iODE 2. RmANG IJN IQUE b, IENT FJC'1'ION MINIIEI PR3 IIOCIIFSSING, (",ANING DEICE Sl)ISCRIA' INUT C t'IR)(qls.qiN(; Ni I'w( R 1iE(1mi G. IPR CE:SS 1N( Pi YIi.TRACKINC, INTEZVA

E

7T Pj')CF'SSI Nt( CARD INSIITIfON B. PllAYERT'RACRING

M()I)ILE

1. l'o)Wi-lRt hi I ,i UURE 2. RCESN DCN INT'IERFACE P'joCESSIl~NG; I) ISl'LAY U.JIDA'I'E 4. LPROCE'3SING iE.U UIAI I) J'I I)lCSSING CARD) Rt'.AI)E (X FIXOR C( NTR( )LLER 1. POWERa .1,PiW R&.D IESSM, PRtOCESIINC I. AsSIGNIG GANM D)EVICE ADD)RESSES -11 4. SYSTEM MONITORING BONUS CONTROL Ill. PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION I. SYSTEM ORGANISATION A. SYSTEM OVERVIEW A system for operating a plurality of gaming devices is shown generally at 10 in Figure 1. The system, hereinafter described, monitors and reconfigures a plurality of gaming devices or machines 12-16 and 22-26. The system includes the following capabilities: remote reconfiguration, accounting data extraction, integrated player tracking, and cashless play. Remote configuration includes sending a reconfiguration command from a host computer to one or more of the gaming devices. The gaming devices, on receiving a reconfiguration command, will reconfigure its jackpot payout schedule in accordance with the reconfiguration command.

This reconfiguration, in the preferred embodiment, comprises activating a bonus payout schedule. This bonus payout schedule is in addition to the normal pay table of the gaming device. This bonus payout schedule provides for additional bonus payouts in addition to the payouts specified by the device's normal pay table. The difference between the two may be important for regulatory reasons.

For example, in the United States of America, the composition of the pay table is subject to regulation by the various state gaming commissions while the bonus payout schedule is not. The preferred embodiment currently activates only the bonus payout schedule responsive to the reconfiguration command, while not altering the payout table. The invention, however, is not limited to activating only the bonus payout schedule. Other embodiments, which would be subject to regulatory approval, could modify the device's payout table. The preferred embodiment, however, does not.

The system, implements a variety of bonusing events through this reconfiguration process. These bonusing events include: a multiple jackpot wherein the gaming device reconfigures its payout to be a multiple of its default payout schedule; a bonus jackpot wherein the gaming device reconfigures its payout schedule to payout an additional bonus amount when certain conditions are met; and a progressive jackpot wherein two or more gaming devices are combined in a progressive jackpot having a progressive jackpot payout schedule.

The system also provides for integrated player tracking and accounting data extraction. The system 10 provides for player tracking and accounting data extraction over the same network. The player tracking allows the casino to run certain promotional events. The integrated player tracking and accounting data extraction also allows the system to support cashless play wherein a credit is given to a player over the network.

The system 10 includes one or more floor controllers 18 and 28.

Each floor controller supports up to a predetermined maximum number of gaming devices. In the preferred embodiment of the system 10, each floor controller can support up to 1024 gaming devices. The preferred embodiment of the system 10 also supports up to eight floor controllers.

Thus, the system 10 can support up to 8192 separate gaming devices.

The system supports a multiplicity of various gaming devices. The gaming devices 12-16 and 22-26 shown in FIG. 1 are the type having a pull handle for initiating a game, slot machines. However, the invention is not limited to such gaming devices. The gaming devices shown in FIG. 1 can also be gaming tables or push button operated machines as well, e.g, video poker. As will be described hereinafter, the system supports any gaming device providing traditional discrete connections, coins-in, coins-out, etc., as well as those having serial interfaces, as described below.

The floor controllers 18 and 28 are, in the preferred embodiment of the system 10, IBM-compatible personal computers. Each floor controller is responsible for monitoring the activity level of the corresponding gaming devices connected thereto and issuing commands to the associated gaming devices to reconfigure their payout schedules during certain bonusing events. The floor controllers issue status requests to each of the individual gaming devices to determine the activity level of each. In the event the floor controller detects any activity, the floor controller communicates that activity to a file server 32, which is connected to the floor controllers via a high speed network 38 connected therebetween.

In the preferred embodiment of the system 10, the file server 32 includes a high performance personal computer or work station having a large hard disk capacity in order to store the gaming device activity therein.

In the preferred embodiment of the system 10, the high speed network 38 is a ten megabyte ethernet network. The system 10 also includes commercially available network software to support the industry-standard ethernet network 38. An example of such network software is Novell network software sold by Novell of Provo, Utah. The file server 32 also includes a database program by which reports can be generated using the data stored on the file server. Such reports include, e.g. area, model, denomination and summary reports. The database software also allows a user to generate custom reports. The database software is based on the industry-standard Paradox database language.

The system 10 also includes a pit terminal 34 which is also connected to the ethernet network 38. The pit terminal 34 is also a standard personal computer, in the preferred embodiment, and can be used to monitor the gaming device activity in the pit. This terminal 34 can ial5( be used as a security moitoring, device to dletect anly unatiicipated. events I ike fills or payouts.

The systemi 10 further include.- any nmnrber of fil and jackpot processig terminals 3. 'lese terminals M6are laced in the cage a nd/or thMe change booth areas (of' the casino Cor fill and h and-Tpaid jackpot processing. When a fil is requiled, a. floor p~erson goes to the nea rest, cashier's booth and stats thm g'amngi device nun iihr reql~iinit aMfL The booth attenda nL enlters the niumber into the fill and jackp~ot processlil termninal 36) located in thle cashier s booth. The terminal W6 thel oulukS Ilp 1o the record assatedl with thre par te m I gamingj-, (evice in the fille server 312 to deterineui the correct, fill aun1oulin I. The termni al 36 also caminIles at t oreL ic al hopp~er balance for the pa iiticula r device based oil the Ia test meter informaion, as describd urnther below. [If the calculation shows a signifumt hopper balance, a wa ruing is given onl thle cotrnputer screen I S from whuih security canl then be alerted.

A f5ll and jackpot processingr ternijoal 36 prhio s a ti ticet, upon dem nand If the( calculated hopper balance wits nearly zero, thei terminal 36 causo the words "coniputer verified- to be 1 win ted ont the ticket in place of' a sup~ervisor's signatuire. In thel( event that1 the calctlated hopper 2 a Lance wa s not ic a r ze 1, al ex tra sign a tiklre is res Iu i el lto coi t Iete th e fill tranlsaction. The syster id 6lows a siuilari- procedure For processingj, hand-pad jackpo s, A dispatch sta tionm (not shown) can) also be ilu~ded ill thle systelm Thel dispatch stationi allows thle Casio to mlointor activity Ont the gamling devices and "riln the( casinlo front one location. The dispa)'tch station allows the dispatcher t~o monitor customer service, mnni otelance, and security events and direct oter casino personnel to handle these situations app.)il~liaLtely. lor example, during hopper empties (fill) andl jackpot events, as indicated by the dispatcher station, the iimtcher could radio down to the nmoo to have somecone verify the even t. rhe dispatcher station can also indicate when a machine door is opened without a technician card inserted, for example, in which case the dispatcher could take the appropriate course of action.

The above-described system 10 is but one embodiment of a system in which the method according to the invention has application. The system tasks can be allocated in a variety of ways amongst the system computers including floor controllers 18 and 28, file server 32, pit terminal 34 and fill and jackpot terminals 36. In some cases, the pit terminal 34 and fill and jackpot terminals 36 can even be eliminated and their tasks allocated to the floor controller or file server. In fact, because the file server 32 is essentially a virtual hard disk for the floor controllers 18 and 32, the floor controllers and the file server can be considered a single host computer for the system B. DATA COMMUNICATION NODE 1. OVERVIEW In order to communicate with the floor controller, each gaming device includes therein an electronic module 40, as shown in FIG. 2. This module 40 can be inserted into a variety of pre-existing gaming devices. The module allows the host computer to uniquely identify the gaming device on the network, including the device type. The module 40 includes two main subcomponents: a data communication node 42 and a player tracking module 44. The data communication node 42 keeps track of the coinsin, coins-out, coins to drop, games played, jackpot occurrences and other related functions of the associated gaming device. The player tracking module 44 keeps track of the player that is playing the associated gaming device. Together, the data communication node 42 and the player tracking module 44 allow the floor controller connected to the associated gaming device to monitor and control the activity of the gaming device. The system hereinafter described in detail includes the following capabilities: slot accounting, player tracking, bonus jackpots and cashless play.

2- CONI{UbLt AND MEM :NORY 11we data coult-nulflia1tof node (iJON) 42 includes a data coiumirikation node controller 46,whicb in the! 1 rellorred embhodinment is ani 111)647312581 controller in anutafictured by Hitachi of 'lokyn,.J a panl.

DO)N 42 is cmipied to the p)Iyer trackting controllr 44 through bus interface logic W5 The buis intuerae logic 45 is cunwmntoll I nerfae logic includung, or eXample, transceiver, as is knoinI the art of igital design.

A menmry 48 is connectedI to the DCN11 cointroller 46. The uemo ry includes prograni memiory for storing progrili instru-Ictions 1,6r th e I)CN controller 46.I ti Le proferre(I ejubodinent, this programn memHory induides a invotl ite rnod-only memory (IOM)I However, this program uwmnuy ctub also be flash or "battery" backed HA\M in order For the programti mei oy to be updated by the floor controller. In the event fash 'bathry" b m" RAIM is used the floor controller woui 4 download the up d ated p EmIfgram ii to LIill I N ou trol let andi (lt )C N cotrol.10 1r wouliid over~write the program inentlory with the, downloaided programli Thle memlory 48 aso inicludes systclo Iniemry, statlic randlomaccoss moemory (S'A M fio storing the gaining device ink irmaton. This 210 gyamlin deVicet iloitiation inicludes at leasmt the followinglf etrs coinsitn, coin oii 0t., coins1 to dirot) gamesii played, jacklm poiccu rrences.

A

increas.e reliability of tim &ai in tI o preferred embodirlent, a rednnal ant set (if these conters is kopt in aphysically separate nmmory device wi tin mieniory 48 Moreover, the miemory devices storing Itese counters are nonvolaitil so that inl the( etvent of power1 failure the( counts will be retni ned 1The nonvolatile memories cni eithe r he battery backed FSRANI or electrically erasable- 1 )mgrallultahle read-only rnewmory(EP&') Altloufd m inn ry 48 is shownm external to IX N controller 46, much if not 3(o all ofthbe memory 48 canl be included in thme I contoller 46.

3. N.F woiu lN'rRFACfl The data commniciltation nlode 42 also iliudes a net work interface 49 frw connecting [lie datta ('oimufllcatinn node 42 to the associated, floor (:11oller. The net wor k interface is coupled to the floor cont[roller Lbhrough a personality ho xrd 202, doeribed below.

A more detailed dr awing of net wot k interface 49 is shown in IG.

3. In 17 31, [b e )CN Cot rol ler- 46 receives datLa from 0 ie floor con trol ler Ilvor conductor 52 which Iis opt ically iolated from a connecto r 5l by oltie0I isnla [or cir tnt 5C 1h DUl) N (on troll er 4t ra tiits (data to the S floor controllr ovet condudator 5G, wvi eli is optically isolated Irom the conneiicto r 5 1 by optical i solat[or ci ccai t. 58. E~ach of the op sot ato r circuits 54 and 58 include an opto-cotiplerw as me known in [lie art. A bus '222 (Fl(I 2) is connlectedl botwteu the, netw orkt interface 49 and tlie 1 )ereori illt boaird 202.

4. SPi'MAt MA(C1LIN1'

INTEIZFACE,

Roe kri i o to FIG, 2, tlie da tat commniatlion node inclti(IO5a seriall machli i n tt i t ac GO_ The srial miachinle inlterfalce CA) allows the data COMItunita ion nude 42 to uomnmuiu( te with the associated gaiig device ad vance seialIitr inn te at as ted w illIi th e d i scre te in (ci'fact:, to be de'ti ibid furthler lwreinieftei% A bAus 224 (FIG, coineets the serial mnaclitie interface G0 to the associated gauiiil" devi~e at1 con nector 62. The serial interface, in thei prefor red enbod i mnt, is a standard UtS- 232 thtree; wire interface.

Referdrng to FIG'. 1, [lie f)CN controller 416 receives data fronti the gamning device over co doctor 64 whiiich ii nected between [lie DCN controllr 46 andl a (linenLial to si ogle-ended convvrt er 66. 1Vte DCN controller 46 transmits data to tie gaminV device over conductor 68f cnnecteti between the l)CN controth r 4G tnd the coiiverter 66. The converter (66 converts the differential inptit o)1the, serial interface 62 to :o a 51 06 1t 00 idd output which is transinitteti over conductor 64 [li IJGN controller 46. The conver-ter 661 also cOnverts the singtle enldi inpuit received frmi the DCN controller 4(i to a differentia ii outstignai ai nd transmits that. to the serial interface 62. Tile serial machine it terhee is the iumans by which the 1!CN controller coamifuln it-e -,ci t reconfigutration data, roflerredl to as reconfiguration om mands, Lo the machine. These recon figuration coon nlan (is cause the mrachinles to activate a ot i payout, table to allow the maclhine to aippend bonus paynli~nd to their stand ard jackpot payouts, as speW'iNe by their payout.

tale~, dur-ing certain bowus activities.

t0 6 SERIAL )ISPJ.AY INTERFACE Them data commiunication. node 42 further includes a serial display intmeae 70 illustrated in more delvidi in MIT The seril display interface 70includeslogcacopld between!i the DNot rle 6adan explansion conlnector 71I. 'The expansion connector 71 allows the DGN ts contLrol le r 46( to cot munt iica te with an Ic x pan1S ioli device conlnected th ereto.

G. iDh;ciunTE MACHINE N F'1INPE IACE TIle (ld L c ninn iation Wech 42 als hui cl .d es a discret e maino iii iterface 72, which is shown in) detail inl F 4. Tlhe discrete. lmach inc interl'ace 72 includes a pluravlity ofopocouplers 781 coupled heween the 2D discrete' ouitiuts fron bte 1 niinlr device or ni tcltinic and to I) N con trolloci 46. Thei discret Ie ou tpuots of th e in ad hile are rece edom al,.

terminals 74A-74J of a con itecttr 74 via a cable (not sh own) connlected between the mnachine and the connector 74. The discret on tpits are coupled to corresponding inputs 76A-7MI via optmulers 71 The discrete on tiub ts roim [lte cine include: ain EXTR'IA signal,1, a POWEI signal a COI N IN signal, a COIlN OW siggn" 1 a CO(IN IM O inal, a JACKPOTI signal, a HANDOLE sirnal, a IIs ii'nal' a SLOT DOOR signal, anid a DROP DOOR signal. Each or tla sesignidi corresp~ondi toa known, eventiin the inaci( ie. For examlpl( Whn a .Coin) i dopped ill the Mo machine a COIN IN signal appears onl terinald 710 T(Ihis COIN IN sinal is then transilittecd to thle U)CN controller 46 onl line 7(6C viai tile a;vocat ted opto-copler.

Alil of' the sig'nal lines; 7(;A,7(iJ includle at pullup resistor and a1 puildown capac.itor, which combined forin ain R.C networik onl tdh A associated line. The resist~rs are, in the preferred iribodlinent, in the Forin of a resistoir pack 80 and tie capawitors are indivichd discrete capacitors 82. Alternatively, tGe capacitors can he removed for hiighspeed signals- 7. MACU I NE, C4FICUR~ATI(IN (i10 1IT it) Th'e dataI comn tillication node 412, as howu in Fl S, 2 and 3, MArhe indclei0 a maichine configori-lori circit 84, In Li he preferred cijiboii mont, as s-hown in FIG. 3, tMe iiiihi ne onfi gmui icircuit Of inclnues a paralle to serial converter 8G; which Iincue i e 011 it parallel input:; IN, a serial input SI N, a clock input. C I K, stntbiiput STlB, and, at serial on Iput souri. T1he parallel inputs' IN are coiioeced to at porn ali t~y Iboard as dvese ri bed h101e]611a10.0r to rece'ive it uniqu n ach ine confi guration nutiber 110 r m'lo in, Wh ich liiiliqlt I} il tti f en the type of machine that. the data cototiiniitiofl nodi t rconnected to- Ill tile preired embodimient, tHes macine ident itco ti ntither is comnprisied ordsx hits 'Phe-refore, tLhe two ri(natilning paralleI input's be u1sed to p mv ide addilboiii a in puts, suiich as additonal T seii. e mO 1 iii eilj tSto thle DCN controller 4(i.

The mnachine con'iguratio numbher 1 resented on the par;lle inpuits of the jwirallel to serial converter 80 is latched Ltherein responive to a strolbe signtal received A the strohe SUB in ptit. A strobe input is genei atoil hy the DC(N cont oh her 46 oii cotidnetor 90 which is cou~pledi to the stroh sr IB in put. Ilhi pairallel data is dlocked out ofthe converter 86 to the P)(N c ontroller 46 onl condoctor 88 and connected betweei the sial output SOUv o f Le converter 86 and an input of the DCN cmooler 46 e'apotmive to a clock signal received on bhe clock ihnit (JL of tAc convrt 86. The clock signal is generated by the DC(N controller 46 and is transinitted to the converter 86 via conductor 92 which is Coupled between aIn output of the D(OIN controle~r 46 and the clock input GLK of the converter 86.

'oThe conerter6 amlsoitles a serial input SN frw reei ving seral inpu t datai. 'The serial input SI N is coulpledI to an expaistion te rm inalI 91lC of ex pansion connector 94. (onductors 90 and 9)2 are also cotipled t) the expansion terminal 94 to provdec the clock and strobe signals thereto.

The expa t~si n te rmtin al 94 thlb(' bre prov ides,- th Ic lea as lii thle DCON 11) controlle~r 46 to access AtiWA serial infOritiatiOfl ti Iron gh, tbec paralliel to se rial converter 86. In the pmrefrrd em bod imen t, the parallel to serial converter 86 is Part" ilnmber 4021 rianufhctnired by Toshiba orporatioii orlokyo, .Japan- 'LAY'R TRACKING MIIJI A', Ovi:Imv Rebletio g a gaiti to ME( 2, tie moodulte MI) ci ot ted to a cii of iLK~ gaming dev ic incids a payer tracking tnoddoe 44. The Iplaye'r trackinft' (WT) inodol 4n~4 includes a player tackig coiltrole 98. a card reader 100 at St erial display drivver 101, a display 102, and expa unston 2t interlaces, 10 0'11an 106. The player trcigcnrle 8comuniatiies with the do ta comuli inication nvode controller 46 fthrough bus in terlhe logic 110. The DON4 controller 46 and IN on trolier 911m nudAt a master-slave relationship, respectively. The reforet, aIl coinnionicatioti is in itiatedl by the D)(N controller 46. The bus initerface logic is conventional logic and its design is well-knlown ill thle art of digital el ectrOit1 In the prefo~rred embodiment, thle player tracking module 44, with the exceptiont of the card reader 100 and the display 102, reside.,, oit a1 single printed circuit board, wil e the dlata cotnuttiication node 12 resides onl a si'parate printed MAL ui board. The player tracking niodi tie 44 and the dat nm nication node 42 nre then coinncte by a cble 111 Such as a ribbon cable.

2. SEIAI. DISPLAY Ci WA)iTi A inore detailed dIrawing of the player tracking iiduote44 is showa in PIC! 5. In PI 5, die serial displ1ay circuit 10)1 includes a transisAr Q1I anl a resstor RI corneted to the base t her eof A c(ndcL~ 112 is connct~ed between the PT ontroller!98 and the reistor RI to provide a drive signaxl to trais~ ~ro Q1I. The drie sillial mes 5 lansisr (11 to contrid I curret and i c ti iirc y dive a di 4-i y omm' Le t o the cutllectnoin of 91 ata txIennlrifl 114 ofa cminwctor 115, In Ilie pie fered NribodinnAo the terinili 1.14 is cminectnit to a sinall vaclitu11 floresceit dc;pIly to provideC serial display data thervto.

3. SERIIAL, EXPANSION POwRS T~he player tracking mod rie 414 also machides two send uqwo 0510 ,11, ports; 104 andi 1.06. Pach or the expanswin ports,, 1,1)4 anid 106l incldes a differenxtiali to si,ledOended coliVi'rter I1.16 and I 18, r(e"spectively. In the prefevr rid evibodimnenl th les-e c:Oiverters 116 and 118 are part loiillr 1A.TGA9t in aritil mcinied by I inear Tedirilot'y Gorporation of Mi1Lpis, Galilhornia Th t 11 cotonller 99 Wonn~iia~5xithm circl coiiverter via sotwo sigle ended serial sig~ mlinoes: im- input. A-inal lin! ami an outpiut syiat him Th.le cohIv ltriw Covert Um1 simgI emk1 iiput ISl"Wapw 5 rg oi these Ries to d f.rntasinl.The cifferer ial silr nls, however, c.an be used as single-ended signals as is known i the art. The first ex panmsioni port 104 interices the player trackdi Wioe 4'l with a Wy re s. vacinul florescenlt display 102 5) used to display playeri tracking mnessages aS dIescribed futrth en b.elw I Thv I'e disly is con' Lo tho conneccter 1.1.5, -ii then pr~eferredl enibodi uint, by a cable 10M. The Owher expansion ports 106 provides the player track inrg nimidule with fuiture cx pansi capalities to support ad~dition~al fea Lures.

4. CARD READER letelrring.; now to FIGS3. 6 and 7, the card reader 100) will now be describied. FI1G. 6 shows the electrical schematic for the card reader while FIG 7 shows the mechanical dIrawing thereof. In FIG. 7A, an exploded :1view of the card reader is shown. The card reader includus a plIastic bezel 1Im Aing ar card rea'der opening 113 Womed therealng for receiving a card 120 d"irl T h WM nIn 1116 in(Iudi s guide rails 122 and 1.24 (hoposetI at opP~osto, respect ive labwa'il ends of the opwniq Ig M 18. Te gulide rails 12'2 and 11 4 have, .;tops 1.26 and [28, ri spectively. 'I'he guide rails 122 iW and K14 giulde the card 120 thro tigthe:lii openling 118 until ain endl of the tard 120) cmut o ttops 126 and 128. 'Fhe, card is shown flly ins;e rtd inl V IMS 7B and W Y(W the end of the cardl 1201 abi Thing the stops 126 I28 Ihe-, cardl readera-d'o iiiclndes a prinited circuit board 1.30 haviorg a logtud ina3 opening to allow thet guiide rails 122 and 124 to be inserted therein ili urdrlto a ullow t he printed circint hoard 130 to he pushed tip flushagaist amounligplat of2 (I'lte heeI 1 f s showni inl FIGS. 7M and 7C(. Miounted on one side of tie pri nted circuit hoard M80 is an orraly ofphohtldiodeq 134 and an array or phuooetetrs 1 36. 'Ie pluotodiods 134 are mnounited onl the printed circuit hoard aion one side of the op so im g" ini the lIn- inted ci rcitnt bo ard while tilt pl ioto c edo is, U36 a re mounted oil the pi int d circuit board along an opposie side of the openling. The 1)11)1odmodc and the photodielectors are vet ically alignled inl a 01 ie-t()onem relat1ionship, ic., one photodiode for each photodetector.

In the preferred embhodliuent, the array oft ph otodiuos 'iclurdes eight individual dliodles S'paced equidistance aloiig, the opening in the printed circuit. board 130. The plmotodiodes l34 are mnontilt en aloing the opeiling in the prinited circuit oard I10 so as to a] go with Iiseatle rows of openings in the card 1.20 as descib i Ma(Iher Inblowr The cart reader Olso includes optional light masuks 1138 and 1,10. The light imask 138 is :t0 associated wvith time arr-ay of pliotodiodes 134 aind Ii s a pluraility or openings therein, each opening corresponding to an individual photodiode in the array 134. Similarly, light mask 140 is associated with the array of photodetectors 136 and also has one opening for each of the photodetectors. The light mask 138 is mounted on the printed circuit board 130 beneath the array ofphotodiodes 134 along the opening in the printed circuit board 130. The light mask 138 is aligned with the photod iodes 134 so that the openings in the light mask 138 are directly beneath a corresponding photodiode in the array. The light mask 138 minimizes the amount of light emitted by a photodiode that can be o1 detected by a photodetector other than the corresponding photodetector.

The light mask 140 is mounted on top of the photodetector array 136 so that the openings therein align with the individual photodetectors. The light mask 140 further eliminates extraneous light from the photodiodes as well as extraneous ambient light.

Also mounted on the printed circuit board 130 are a plurality of light-emitting diodes 142, as shown in FIG. 7C in broken line. The lightemitting diodes are mounted on a side of the printed circuit board opposite the side on which the photodiodes and photodetectors are mounted on. The light-emitting diodes 142 are mounted around the perimeter of the opening in the printed circuit board 130 and are received S* in a recessed portion 144of the bezel 116. The light-emitting diodes 142 comprise a means for providing visual feedback to a user inserting a card 120 into the bezel 116, as described further below. In the preferred embodiment, the light-emitting diodes 142 are dual light-emitting diodes capable of producing two primary colors and a third combination color.

Referring now to FIG. 6, an electrical schematic of the card reader is shown. The schematic includes the array of photodiodes 134 disposed along one side of the card reader opening 118 and the array of photodetectors 136 disposed along the opposite side of the opening 118.

so In the preferred embodiment, there are eight photodiodes and eight corresponding photodetuctors. The photodiodes are a~rrainged in pailS with thle two photodiodw; within each pail. beingr connectedi in a serial fashion. The anode ot the fWst pbotodiode in the pair is~ coupld to tie supply volag [II ough resistnr, whlile tile c~athode ol 'i (condt plintodiode 6in the pair Is conndedfM to an output of a driver circut 144. Thle dRiver circui t, in the pref'erired eindmdiint, inludes tvo open collector inverters cojinected in parallel. A signal is p~rovided to the driver circuit 144 by the Pn controllr 98 over a ctonductor 1416. A signal oiln O(iUctor 14'6 cau ses~ the driver ci rcu it 144 to cond(1uc t current anid th1wre by a chia thelu p ot d ides 1.34 ,mbs t.an tially -,iui 11lau)(,.ou!ly.

Thell photodutectors 1830 are com~pr ised of' a plurality of ight, sensitive phoL.(1asso;P) 181hetn~ I)o .wpooransist~ors P1D)NP D R a ~ia I ct)ii pled to g rou id(1 T1 i clo o of pl io to tra i si ster PD)1 and 11)8 arm connected togcti wr and to aconduci(tor 148 by whtichi diew PTI 1s conbtroe18 senses, ligh t detected by eitLhe photot ronsiLor 1' I or Phiototra nnistors PD[2 and P117 ame siniilry~ connected withl the c-o1lechors of, each beingf connlectedl tO a CotlfnltctOC 15(1, 'Ilbe coc Olof' phototansist r 13 and 10)6 are( also corninionly connect-ed to a coni li C br 1.52. T h e Cl l ch rs of' the centeir pI otot.1r:1os is tors 1>1 4 and 11,)5, howevrr are connected to seaaecondmcthos 156 and 1M4, respect.ively. Als connecte(dc to echc1 of the Conductor!; 1418-1F6 is a corres)ol Id ing pillhup resistor, In the prefe~rred emibollcit, L(be pllol ristors are inrcluded in a resstor pack 15% Each of the conducrs 148 156 are( Connected Lo n connector .170, whichi is coupled to the VF ontroller 98 as (Icribe d below.

1) oil thle above coalfiqora ion of' thle plhotra.;iiosisI PD I and 118, 0only live condullctors are required to saniple all eight ot dhe pliotot rannist rs Without inoi ciniformnation, hiowever, the player tracking con troller 98 would be on uble to determine which of the two photob.ramisic"ors comnnionly connec ted to a pa rticula r conlllo, e.g., conductor 148, detected light. For example, if either phototransistor PD 1 or phototransistor PD8 detect light, the voltage level on conductor 148 will drop from a high voltage of approximately 5 volts to a low voltage of approximately 0.7 volts. Without more information, the player tracking controller 98 would be unable to determine which of the two phototransistors, PD1 or PD8, actually sensed the light.

However, the card 120, as shown in FIG. 7A, includes a first slot 150 by which the PT controller 98 can determine which of the two photodetectors detected the light, as described below.

The card 120 includes five rows of slots 152-160. The rows of slots 152-160 are arranged in a matrix with the corresponding slot locations within each of the rows being aligned in columns. Only the first slot 150 of row 152 cannot be aligned with any other slots, slot 150 is in a column all by itself. The individual slots within the rows of slots 152- 160 encode unique player tracking information. Each slot represents a single binary bit in the player tracking information. Either one of two conventions can be used to encode the information. First, a slot can represent a binary 1 and no slot can represent a binary 0. Second, a slot can represent a binary 0 and no slot can represent a binary 1. The player tracking information can include: a unique player identification number, the casino issuing the card, player membership information, etc.

In the preferred embodiment, the card includes five rows of slots each having a maximum number of nine individual slots, thereby producing 45 possible slots. The first row of slots 152, however, is not used to encode player tracking information, but instead is used to synchronize the sampling of the player trackin g information by the player tracking controller 98. Thus, only 36 slots are used to encode player tracking information in the preferred embodiment. This still allows 2" 3G possible combinations, which is more than adequate.

The PT controller 98 uses the first row 152 to synchronize the sampling as follows. The PT controller 98 continuously samples the outputs of PD4 and PD5 looking for a slot. If a slot is detected on either PD4 and PD5 and no other slots are detected by any other phototransistors the PT controller 98 determines that the detected slot must be slot 150. The PT controller 98 then continuously samples the output of the phototransistor that detected slot 150. Once a new slot is detected by that phototransistor, the PT controller 98 then samples the outputs of the other phototransistors, PD1-PD3 and PD6-PD8, on conductors 148, 150 and 152 for slots in of the other rows. Thus, the PT controller 98 synchronizes the sampling of the other rows of slots to the detection of a slot in the first row 152.

It is important for the card reader to detect the orientation of the card in order to correctly interpret the player identification information is encoded on the card. The card reader detects the orientation of the card 120 by detecting the slot 150. If slot 150 is detected by phototransistor PD4, then the card reader knows that the card is in the orientation shown in FIG. 7A. In that case, the card reader knows that the player tracking information is actually being detected on phototransistors PD5-PD8, and can interpret the player tracking information accordingly. If, however, phototransistor PD5 detects slot 150, then the card reader knows that the card 120 is oriented 180 degrees from that shown in FIG. 7A. In that case, the card reader knows that the player tracking information is being detected by phototransistors PD1-PD4, and can interpret the information accordingly. The PT controller 98 can simply transpose the player tracking information sensed on conductors 148-152 depending upon the detected orientation of the card. Thus, the card reader .00 is able to correctly interpret the player tracking information regardless of how the player inserts the card 120 into the bezel 116 of the card reader. This can be accomplished with only five conductors beatweeni the eight plotasisLors PD) -P1)8 and te 1I' controller 98.

The card readerrfurther includes at plurality of l ight-emoitting dIiodes 142 thatruarnoun ted ant Lim~priitedI circuit boaril 1 1()and receivedl in, the 144 of the bezel I116, as shown in iFi( 7lX TMe I.,Ds 142 are mfot.1Uo oiL l t Lhe pr inted ci rcu it bonard 1 3( so as to> surronid tLem, crd risiderou'nir.ig I Mas shown in PAJ(, 6. In HIilt prefe rred emibodinivii., tHie caril reade(r includes 24 dual iodes arranged in prsThe dual dimades have two) sepairate diodes, each being able to Illeit a dlifferent primlary to color of l ight. In the preferred embehd iment L he dual diodes emit either red or green light. The dual dide: can Aso emit a third conihinatian Woor irthlie two 0(1 iv idual diodes ill the duialI diode are a ctun ated siintul La wo usly s"o th at. the Lxv iiar coFL Vel ors am iille. 11i thle preferred eil)(IiiiifL1, Lids conilbina ion color is apprimiately oi'aiiq' dlue to the is dlitferenlces in LIe itensitis atI lnae anid green ligh.

The dual diodes are essentially troate"d as two inldividual,1 diodes.

I( redl dIiodes5 i LI he dual i dides are drivyen by a driver c icuit. 62, while the green diodes; G inl the dual diodes ace driven lby another driver circuit 164. The driver circuits, 162 and 164 are, ill the' pciIoiife vnd~iiodiovnent. two ope, n collector divers conecte in pjiaHld, as wit I driver 145.1Ioeeolereuvltdrvrcrut vilbeaaet to those skilled in the art.

The dual diodes ar: arranged int pairs &vi I e anodes of one of the dualI diodes being coileld to the supply volt-age i 5V and the cadlioide., of the other 4 Iia diode beinig can nected to the output of th awori-n"Wi a d river ci rcu it. Accorcdinigly, Lb redi diodes arec comm onl1y dri ve abIy di ver cir'cuit 162, which is resptonsive to a signal received Liomt t he mIon haller 98on conducltor166. Shii a y, the greeni (iodesaro econinionily dr iven by driver circuiL 1014, which is responsive to a signal received fi oi th lo T controller 98 oil conductor 168. Theref'ore, the PT1 controller 96 can seletivly coat [hOreddiods, he reenl diodes or both by genro n thev tcorre.,pond~i iig signals on conductors 1 66 an d 168.

All of the conductors over which the PT onitroller COMMi~hniCaItO withI the CardI rcaller, iWe, 146-156 and 166-108, are connected to a nector 1170 as show" in tiCS. 6 and 7A. Thie p1layer trcking modu 44 then inchiui.,a cable 172 MIin Ai cornnected between the coinueto 170 and the PTcout roller 98 as shown in FRY Althoug~h thle preleredl embdodiment of the card reader is an optical card reader t 1he in ven [te is [lot, liited to such-. The ligh te.d bezel4 can be W used inl conjutin w ixith any ormn ofcr eader suich ;Is a mlagnetic ca id reader, ba ciode, rca der, etc. The miethod of providithug vis;ual fieedback to [lhe pla'ye 2 rr 'in deh stile d is a gen eral et hud Whiiiclh canl be list'd w ith a plur-ality of c ids mid card readers.

rl '-DIPLAY Refer ing, nlow to FIC. a schema tic for the display circuit 102 of' Whe anyer trackig tmOtdei44 is shcown. I1lie circui 102 includes a d isplany eorltn o~ter 17'4, wihichm i pro nrfd einb im' itt is artil number 111)(M7325817It) mannti fct ii c by lli Lachi of' Tokyo, .Japall Co opted tW [li display co"Nirnldr 17 i a mnemrory 176 via bus 1,78, The 01 miu'nory 176, in tlhe preferred embodime'nt, is a 312Kb SRlAM, 'Tie memiory I76 stoiros [Ii variables and par mliiit ls tlei..5sary fori t(lj couik[oller 174 to cotimuim ae with hoth tIhe lPT cont[roller 98 and4 the display d river 186. The buis 178 incl ube t he. mucesary addresys 1lines', data lutes an conto~l [ltIi nes to initeimth in memnory 176.

I Ole p rvfe rred embh 1( 10 ot, the is2play 1012 in ciii4" des va eunn i thin rescent, dis play (VIIM1, which is orgfltized as a 16 x .192 display Inatix. Sueh ie splays are well-kn own in Lb e -art. of dita i oertAronic s Tle VFD] 1 84 is 4 rrv by a driver circuit 1.86, whichit hci des a pilurali ty of' indiv~dnal IM veS serally it te rcol nected. In) the preferred embodinmient, these serial drnivers are part mnbei)r UG1N58 18 Eli-1, mnanufacture d by AllegroM icrosys teils, Iic. ofWort ster, MlassachusettAIs.

The driver citrcuit 186 is connected to Glh VIF) Ui'4 by bu"! 18. which) includes 1 60 individual conductors, IThe manner in Wilh the 160 buls lines are connected between M e driver circnit IG and the VVDI 184 is known in the art and is Uih~er foi t otluib(d in deTa& heeinl.

Ib% display itomliOr 1174 internaes with tHie drive~r AWriLA 186 by a phlurality olsigiial lilms 190. Thlese signal fi rs tranqn6L the sinnda rd driver interface signals5 to the driver circutit 1.86. These signls intclude:.

a4 clock signal (CL OCK, serial input da La signal SI ATA, a Crn tue sifjnal FRIAME, a strobe sig',ual STIROBE, t.wo output. enable signalIs )I I/ and 02", a col run cmi i i i CO L CIACO(K, and a coinnm output. enable signal cm., OWL r hesn signals h~ave well ktnown it uctions ill thei disply art and ame tLherer not di~a ssed in deotail. Thell signal names hiaving 'a I re presen1t actLive low signails while all other si gnails are active h-igii.

IlTI ie display cot roll1er 174 generate.s these si gntals in tie required' seqcienmc in order to serbily Owi Mc te refib mated di 5 1 y dWa to i e driver circuit. O)neof ordittary skii teartcould prugni thiplay controler 176 to gmenrte thee signial in order to display the de'si ied 1ness ;age on the, V WI) 1.84 1 asi d oil the fiorego in g cr c riptln di s pla y 102 a Isu i"n udes a etin I i e r lb 192. (.6te sria inlere 1 92' is the nmow by wh6i the PT co"ntrllr 98 cutiuuuildcatm a p)1aye r t racik i~ng messiage to IAw de(isplday 1012. In th e t.rerd en hot Iit ient dw b serh ialterlace 1 92 indcuides two 0 0 p toisoluor citci Is: onc lbr tdi dal setnd Wat the noh er fo r Lh1ei serial tra a n is ion data r, Ile displaiy c ont roller 174 is; connected to the serial inter-Face 192 over a two coidl 1ictor sc] ial blis 194 on 0i cotnduto f0 or r -ceiv ing taI l dala fromi the scrcia I interface 192, tHie offie fr ltrIansittinrg serial data tdbereto- A cotiedtor 196 is i lsn coupled to ie eri al tr~ace 112 'Ite connector 196; itnclutdes Iur teritnatils ITwo of, the con n-ctor ter-niinals are! dledica ted to rece ivtm- se'rial tiput daita andl the obie r two terminnals are dedicated to trinnaiiitti ug serial data .A cablen (not shown) coupIes the dislAny 102 to Whe payer tranking niodale 44 between connectors 196 (FIG', 8) and connector 115 (FIG. 6. D~ICETE INPUT SICTION The display 102 Further includes a discrete input section 198, The ditJ f e inipu Isection 198 is an interhwte between the discrete ouitputs of' a 1,aming device and the dfsplay contrler 174 mu tch in the samne way thb ith disree imahine in erfic 72 allows the data conriun ication nodo Ointerface with a gamning device. Although in) the! preibvired at nbodinient the discrete input secton is unconnecte Wo any discrete machine inputs, the discrete Ipu sectio 198 allows the (1isphty 1 02AO ope rate as a stand-atone moduh tiefr gam in g levi ii s in cer'ta in configurations. The discrete input sictiol p)rovides5 tlis~crte in] litsiiials Aron ani external device to the (Iiplay conttrohet 174 over a bus 200. The I~ discrete inpiut sectin 198 includles optrohltr VMruiS such as part.

n itn] erC I ,l'2 iar IIl ctu redl by 'Io;hi hb(X Crpo~ti on of Tokyoi, Japj an which provi te ingle-ended i iput signals to the display contoller 171.

iPEHSONAl ATY BOARDi BeO"fe rriint, [low t(o FIG. 9, a pe rsontality hoaIrd 202 is shown in schenia~ic fiorui. The personaility boaird 202 unoique]) ienife the gainig device on the nietwork Ile p i snadit hoard 202 idicate. the type or gaming device, e.fr,, slot miachine or video poker, including the inanuflactu rer, and provides a uniqin macli We iden aLiun tutuibr Uha the host coinjtiter can use to nhiqtily aitdlrss the gait tig device The npersoality boatrd 202 allows the devices to be reid ily rmnoved and reinstalle(d in the network without any manuial reconfijgoratioi by tile operator, such as resetting dip switches.

The peirsonality board 202 couples the i. a tnttiirnt tdiof node 42 to at gining devic. Ile personality board 202 includelis two conn;e~tos 30204 and 206 antd an identGFcati circuit'208. The con ut tor 204 coules to thie daita commuiinicatin node 42, r des'cribed I'irtlier below. 'Phe conrinector 206 connects; to the partiular garning devilmc T1he component is shown ill FIG 9 arte moun ted onl pine circ4ui t hoaird UmLia ioin;1000Ld inside a conniector tiriess (nut show n)-Ih eSndt or lo: h I)CN to'bve a;i ly re;nwwed and rehi'1 ied From lit nt work wivi b in i ,11e e iiahliy board ui(i lcy id (1ilife tiche t I ach ine by pro vi (ing, both a coiilguraio ninber, which indiica Leo the type OF gaining device that is; connected to the connector- 20G and a 1116(1,11' idenitification dl i1i unier, Wich cis ii; d by Lb c sy steo 1.t La m a intLain recowds OilL te mal"chile. Th In oii hgur'P ion. numbner imi odes a :;ix bit bin ary iiber whIi ch in dica tes t.h' e t of ganhing devi ce ci ot c~lt at Ut)L i personal ity boa1rd 2()2 F EaIi10i indne type is sied a unil te con jig; rataori numiber. 'Phis coo figur it ion mniiier is encoded on line!;a CN is Wellc a re connectedi t U 10111)a s 204 -'24 V, respectivyely, of tcoonwctn r 20)4, P-ch lioc rc~prc:;ents one bit of the binary confihguratitli niiiiiheor.

Ile j~iltiii 1101: are vither tied to a supply voltage to rep resen. a hi na ry On c Or tol gvun id to re present. a hi in ry zt ro. 'I tic s;ix b it con figorti U ont0iik heVisod in tire p refe rred embc iodAimet mciU an enlcode 4 ip to difff'rcnt coloibinatioiia and, thoefo;-e, difl*eretit. mac-hinle type~s.

The iconfigillation wiuber For the embhodimienct shown in l'IG. 9 is equoal '1het'ongu'aLiolines;(. ~GOCF r coupled to thre inIMU5 Of parallel to seial cojierte 86 (1I0- 3) Lb roug~h a cionnector (riot, shown).

ui Tbe ferii' nta 1: 2(14Q-204V of'conn iector 2(14 h1ave co rrespondtiin g Le cminr l: Bs5Q8v ow,,rmect~w 85, as; hWIdiatd by tml-respoiidilig NOWeie~ snfi if te T1his sam lettcriiig cony ciiin is used throtighlol L The confgo raiiuf nouimler is uised by the 1) (N coii trollo e46 as iiieans oIf inriterpretinig the discrete input sigii1als ircceived Front thle 3U manchille Ubiroi coninector 206. Individuail COCidUCtorS 'ollpled bet Weenl connector 204 and 206 are labeled Lu correspond Wo the machine type having a coniguration riumber 3C1L For a difleorent mnachine type having a diert coiguration niumbler, many of these conlllucLors may have different functions. BY providinig a unie conilyviration inumber, the )CN Controller can iterpret the sigilal rceiveol O these link,".

accordigly.

T~l~e p)erson)ality board 202 also includes an identiheaton AWLemi 2(08 which providles a uiue macliine idMUticati number Wo the dakli cconiiinunlication o 1( C12. The unlifue! identihelatioll nuillber is s;tored in a nonivola~tile inuieiioy 2 10 and pro~ided to a te'rminlal 204N o01 conducetor I.D In thle pIre 'rred ciil en lii ncn Lthe no0n1volatile niiulory 2 10 is~ a parit nin IehCI.1S2224nmnaiifui ured by l las Senmodnic~or f lal Txa.

Ini the pref'erred embidmilent, the nionvolatile memory 2M)1 ilchhl ea 32 hbit ROMV havinug a. factory lan;UerCd uiiqrmelial aubrSt~lre(1 LIV ieiu This sril nuoihe, A~e, the inachimidet cto nnbr can be read out ot the inemory 2 10) by the DCN controller dG to uniquely ienify the 1 uiclimiCC ent-C ted thiqn1'L. Th e prot ocol forn rea di ng the ide 0lu f tea th m 111ni1bei out of, the flemniory 21.0, as is described in the data sheet.L fbr the part,, is, well known it) thu'art.

The identif-icationl circuit N08 irlcltidl05 a imuinhe.r of, di:;crete C~oinpllIellts. lThe fimemory 2 1.0 has a zefler diode 2 12 roupled acro:;s the power and ground Lermimiis of 213 and 215 thereof Tl'im ideitifisatiom ircuit 202 also inchos a first diode 214 coupled betweeni thle power terminal 213 and a data output terininal 217 Th Pie circuit 208 further ind:Iides a seond diode 216 onnilled between Lim dat atput ter~nlinal 217 and the groiund terminals 215. A resistor 218S is interposed between the data output termliil 2 17 and the connedot1r tmiiiilml 204 N. he terminal 204 N is coopled to a corresponii(ing terminal 74 N ot'couniiector 74 IG. 4) by a bus5 220 (FIt. 2).

301 The discrete outputs fromt theniachine, coin inl, coinl out, etc., ,are also supplied to the data conimunication node 4.2 via bits 220. The bus 220) connectsconnector74 orthe daitacomnunication node 42 and the connector 204 of the personality board 202 such that teriiab; having crre 1 )odin leterd s~b es re on ertd.For examlple, terminal 741 C, of connector 74 is connected to term inal 204 C or con nector 2041 by a.

individual (ondtlt((or withi bus 220. Alltheotheritenninalsaresinidry connected by thie b)11 220.

TInle two rk in t riace 49 ormte da t:;i (in micaIon niode 42 is aNio io cupled to the personality board by a bum 222; as lmown in FRL 2. Bus 222 includes 14ur co(nductors whlichi connectds the 1four1 terminals of COnneCtOr 51 With fourT corresjondiilg terninals of- connector 204, ase iniciate d hy th Ii ii on l ettere d su0 Iixc It is ove cc .1e fovi linies thIa the D(.N tor nr et46 idirecty owntiln fica tes With tie floor controller.

Tesriali machine interface GO is also coupled to tiow persona~llity board 2U2 by a bus 2241 as shown in FH! it 2 The I ms 224 i" noudes follr condu1 ictors which couple four termninalIs 62011) Id EE ofconnct 62 withi corres p0idinti L ermi na Is 20-1)1)and 2041."E' respechli e ly. ft. is over 1.1 ee. lo611r condouctoris that the I)C N con frolic r 46 cirommu n icates .oreucOnfil'uraioll comiands Lo thlnain us The IC>I controller tr-:iimsits data throullh the terminal 20411)1), wh(ih is provided 1 to the iachine oin condcuctor MACHIIN E RX. The mach iine, responds, to the coilf-ijuration conunand onl the conductor MACUIN IX Tlhe use of these two condiuctors will bec% ulne H1ore a p rent ii the decscip tioni of the op eraitioi :e hiereinbelow.

Althoug~h hss2022, 22 1l 226; hiave been descr ibed as soparate buses, the indi vidual conductors witin these buses cool d, and are inl the preferred embhod imnt, combined in to a single bus that is coinnected between the dIa La collection node 42 and the personality hoard :w 2020 To connect We (l collection node 42 and the personali ty hoard 202 a conlnector (not Shrown) is mn i( on the data collectioii node 12 and a Inating connlector (not shown) is rnointr d onl tile personality board 202.

Tilen two conniectors are thwn mated1 tn~ethero conct the daa collecion node 42 to tOw personality boa~rd 22 The plermuirlity board is then r, coupled Lo the corre~sponding t'rnrng device 1y1 ;abWe '225 (IGN(L).

EK BI)NIJS D ISPLAY DR1VEiRS Referrinog now to FlIGSU. 10 and t 1 two bomlis" display d rivers are shlown. ile dat La conlinincation nod. 42 is designed to support either of' thre d ispla:y drive rs. The data coin innicat-on node 42 is comW n L o ti i it) display driver or F IG. 1.0 thnmi i u c tnmeco 228. At opto con 1)1 230 opt it lly isolates the data il III urn tiol nodet hron ati cirem 232 wic (h inclndes;a We i 231 (Mre terini Wi of the triac 2-4 is coinnecte(I to a Unr1 inral 236B1 of acommmor 2311 Another laer mi d or t b t iia( 234 is connedm Ct(m o a terinn i 236C of connect-r 231. A. kin i displary suchi as 1. I lijdt or sound generatin, iig ans aif, cole]d across heri1irals 230; nd 23;( o Iiat thre triac 234 could (rive thre external burros disply re splon sive t n actuation si mia 1 hum n the data o snuiri 1 ca (Aom ii ori 42.

A seconrd einloodirrrent of the display driver is shiownr ii 1I(; In this ernlbodillient, tile (hit-a CoiiiiriiinicatiOrr Tnile 2 is couipled to the- drivercircuit thaIogh colnnecor 238~ The driver circuit of FIG( I I i(1ch ides: a rea 2 (r peratively coupled to a transistor 242. The relay 2410 is a twoposition relay wvhichi toggles betweenl tire two posi ioris rcspor isivc to a rurrnIL passinrg through transistor 2412, Thie tranmsistAor 2412 condu rcts a current respo(nsive. to anr act-a tiori signal recived on terrinina 1 238B1 froml the dat a coinrnundciaon node 42.

The in ~ii ay drivers ame used by thre d1a ta conl1111iii cationl C10 I2 to activate a displ ay on tihe gamning ulevice which irdia tes that tir rmiic is ilow in a KoIrs irod or condition.

F. FLOOR CONTROLLER~ As shown in FIG. I, the flour controller is dictly cnnected to both Mih 11g speed networl( 38 and a p~lurallity of garthig devices. The Mloor controller is responsible for monitoring the octivity of each or the gaming (ldevictis connucted thereto and report:q OhIbs activiy to tie dataidmse 32.

In addition, the floor controller is responsible Ibor tra,,srni tting a re'cofiguratioii conilnanii a selected one or uoe of the gaining devices during certain bonus coiidiiois The emodatios will be desriei in detail in the operation sectioni below.

TIhe or Wcon~trollerI is, coil lctotl to theassciated ganilw q-levices by cur rent loop ne two rks, l1(,ca iise of th e lifilit: 1. o s of, the cur1rent loop network, only at prede*teriniedI inmber of g rming devices call be stipp~urtul. on any oneI curreL Iop~ network, In the 1 irefer-red erobodii-elin each cluTm t loop networlk suppors upl to 64 gainia ig devices.

1:1 Ili or1der 101- each floor controller to supp) 1 ort iiorv tliaii this predeterined 1nmber1 of giiliig dlevices e'ach floor ConitrollerI is equliipp ed wlith lb corlUnnicationl board 2 It;, as shuown inll 12. The conlillhiii c tioli board 246 snxppot s uip to 16 suepa e[ current loop neworks. Thle boa rd is a stand ard shze card that 6itto one of tI e ISA card slots in the back of the floor controllr. The board ocdlides at iale edge tmnector (not shown) Whib onaes with a ka1(510 ba~ck phol on ecOO('tor (no~tshbown) in the Moor coil tro ller. Thew b ack lane i coinnIector -pro vidIes t lhe floor conlt rol ler CINJ datli, address, and control li5"is to te cool m0ri~ioni board 246 to enladde the communliiicatlion board a nd thle floor controllIe'r (CPIJ to conuiliiicate.

Th'le alunurdatliCtioni li(5.d 246 in[cIudesC eigh t sep~arate microcontrol lerso 24 8A-248 II. [lie inicrocinhtollers comunica te with the floor controller through ISA bus interlce logic 247 over buses 24 9A and 24913. Thel inicrcolt~-olci-rO are sowni ina (bsy-chain connection in lit 12, hut any other equivaet in Tricnection schemie canl be used(. Th e data received fi-r the floor cottroller microprocessor is passed between Owh inicruoCnftrollers rror 218A to 24811, as indicated by the arrows. Each imicrocontroller is .responisible fbr passing the data along and doeermin~ing Whether the data includes a1 mlessage for a ia adin o colin ec ted to it's correspon ing l current loop ne(twork iih n iciocon trolle r is responsible rw two cu remL itlmp networks.

Each nicriooLlroller comm no iniates wit Ai iL aiwsocatd gaming devices via twocorresponlding trrmlTm loop network~s. Tw~o serial siigujal lines 25 1 Conned.~t each Inicrocoil troller to ;I current loop driver circuit. 25W) The V0 driver circuit 260 provides the necessary ci n-eiiL t dlv e to support. the ciirrnent loop network. Each pair' of serial signal lines 251 has a correspondinig palr or curri-t loop lines 253, The co rrent lop Mrietci ciAu 250) m~ini oithl b lociated oil OL ecorn aliti micat jol boa rdlas si owa in FIG. 12 or on a so pa a epr iutd cirui boan rd(ot sho win! If Inated onl Ms a separat board, the current. loop driver circuit 250 can be connucetf to Hi,1 Cainiiea oction board by a Cable.

In the(, po e k rod eta o (hlfI tet, thie 1as IS Vicoo to c41 is solerly respon sibl fo [r coinfinii icatLing witLI the floor i conatroll er mi t:rop roces!sa, All of LIie data receied fot a l e itidaa s; over th11e vaIn ix nm htlop so networks are pa ssed a long to the inicrocon tri lie r 241811 by tI i e I i 110( nhc rUc0 I tU(ll er. The ma c rotoli troll er 24el811 a inal yses thet, datLa arid do te rti iies xvittme r thei data neteds to he coin iini cakql to the floo r controller. I l-iot, tHie last iiiicruomiroller records the cinuniicaktii but does not lorwa nI the data to thet floor controller. This helps nonlod some or the floor controller coninnuncimiomi proessinlg to the commutniication boa&' 4 11. OPERATION The above-(iescribed syste[it allows a Casino in Which the systemn is installed to rnm promoinsi on any properly equipped gaining machines while snlneuigalrii iyrtrcigadaccountir gdata from all machines. system provides Ot capabiLy For the cainoto Liilcut.

which of ti plurality ofniachines are used ini any givenl promotion, The syste(m) further nllws any number of difeent iprci(inm i$ to cperate( sirnulaneoil'y.

icth pi oiiod m involves sending a ro igCil gro io coniiiiiallI id oll) thre floor coirtih i to a raliilg (lv Wce that hasi been slected to be part ofr a given promotion over tHie associated network. UJpon receipt. of-tire 1151Of 1 ira Lio ommani H d)(I the gaini iig (1ev ice reconigutrcs itLi payout sci edie in a i'i)rdan cc w40 iOw received rert infigU i-atLi0 ()aCOJinIIIIaIad As described above, reconfigo ring". a gainung device Payout. schedile, in the Piefe~~h~icinbohincit, itlll~ ~ic~iv~ij_,a hoore; Jayouit scheduleha Imy!, coiL im)ii aiiioint inl idditLim to the amount- debiiid by the (W c payuL LObW.

A partial list, ofithe prommon amcof~iig to tie hvenitioi iiictlde, but, ar-c, not; limited to: a 1mul1tijile jackpot wherein the ga.Iliing device amU cccon [itll m ies itis payo ut to be. a 11ro Itipie of' its; default. pay ou(I. se o lic; a honrrsjackpot wherein th imng devic aeci(iYgirs Rts payoit schedulfe to payout anr adiiNWi bonuis amiount when certain conditions are met; and a progressive j u klmt vdicrmn two or inre gainng dv ices are conibi ned in a prge~~ jcpLhaving a progressive jackpot payout ceule. fir additinon to th e, many other proiiotiuie are pos:;ibie by the hbove--dcse ri bed sy sterii for conmtrol ling and mon itorin ri pliili ty of gaining dlevices.

TPhe spm 10ti t alsoi allows Gir imrprovedl player trackiiig- As wit.1 standard player tracking, tie al)ve-descrilred system n ittors aol ,I0 reports how many coills are, played by each player. Th -ycstei n however, also includes the ability to record how long each player spends at each machine and the number of coins won, games played, and hand jackpots won by each player. All this information is stored on the database, which can be later analyzed for future targeted direct mailing campaigns. The player tracking according to the system also allows the casino to schedule buses and other groups and measure their profitability. The system also allows for cashless play as well as advanced accounting and security features.

Another feature of the above-described system is jackpot announcements. The jackpot announcement feature displays a message on a reader board or display located in the casino which announces a jackpot as soon as a jackpot is won, as soon as the reels stop spinning. The floor controller generates the jackpot announcement once a DCN connected thereto indicates a jackpot is won. An example of such a message might be: "Now paying on machine 1342, a jackpot of $300." With prior art data collection systems, the amount of the jackpot is only known after the payment is made.

Even then the system must account for partial pays, hopper empty, etc.

An advantage of the current system over prior art systems is the ability to implement better tournament systems. In a slot tournament, players pay a fee to play. All play during the session is free. The players accumulate credits instead of cash. The person with the most credits at the end of the tournament wins. Games are usually manually altered to provide payouts of 200 to 300% to make the games more fun. The games are altered manually by replacing the read only memory (ROM) in the gaming devices.

One exciting aspect of tournament play is to see who is ahead. No current system can display this information in real time. This is because current systems can only measure winnings as they are added to the credit meter or paid from the hopper (some casinos use tournament tokens instead). Since credits are usually added at a rate of 10 per second, a 1,000 credit win can take 100 seconds to register. Casinos attempting to create display boards showing who is ahead are frustrated by the lag time.

The jackpot announcement of the system allows casinos to display the player with the most credits by comparing the number of credits for each player. This comparison and display is performed real time as each transaction is completed.

In order to implement each of these features, the various computers and microcontrollers each execute software or firmware. This software and firmware routines are described below. These routines are described with reference to accompanying flow charts. These flow charts would enable one of ordinary skill in the art of computer programming to write a corresponding computer program which the computer or microcontroller could execute.

A. DATA COMMUNICATION NODE 1. POWER UP PROCEDURE Referring now to FIG. 13, a power up procedure 252 for the data communication node is shown. This procedure is executed by the DCN controller 46 when initially powered up. The first step of the procedure is to validate the RAM to ensure that it is not corrupted and to set up all the DCN hardware. Validating the RAM involves writing known patterns of 1s and Os to the DCN RAM. This RAM can either be internal to the DCN controller 42 or external as shown in FIG. 2. Setting up the DCN hardware includes initializing timers and interrupts.

Next the DCN controller checks the RAM in step 255 by reading the pattern of ls and Os back out of the RAM to ensure that the RAM is fully functional. If the RAM turns out to be defective the DCN controller goes into an endless loop in 256.

2. READING UNIQUE IIDENTIFICATION

NUMBERII

If the RAM is fully functional, the DCN then reads the unique identification number from the personality board. As described above, this unique identification number is stored in a nonvolatile memory 210 on the personality board. Reading the unique ID number out of the nonvolatile memory involves following the memory manufacturers interface protocol as specified in the nonvolatile Inemory data sheet. The unique identification number provides a means for uniquely identifying the gaming device.

lo After the unique ID has been read from the personality board, the DCN processes the discrete machine inputs in step 260. This step will be described in further detail in Subsection 3, MONITORING GAMING DEVICE DISCRETE INPUT below. After the discrete inputs have been processed in step 260, the DCN processes the machine serial interface in step 262.

is This step is described further below in Subsection 4, PROCESSING GAMING DEVICE SERIAL INTERFACE. Next, the DCN processes the network interface, the interface between the DCN and the floor controller connected thereto. The process network interface step 264 is described further below in Subsection 5, PROCESSING NETWOIK INTERFACE. Finally, o the DCN processes the player tracking interface in step 266. This step is described below in Subsection 6, PROCESSING (ARI) INSERTION. At the completion of step 266 the DCN loops back to step 260 and continuously, sequentially executes steps 260-266.

3. MONITORING GAMING DEVICE DISCRETE INPUT Referring now to FIG. 14, the DCN step of monitoring the gaming device discrete inputs 260 will now be described. The DCN first reads the discrete inputs on input lines 76 in step 267. One particular set of discrete inputs is shown in FIGS. 4 and 9 for a particular gaming device.

The actual discrete inputs present will depend on the machine type, as :o indicated by the configuration number, which is also read by the DCN controller 46. Most gaming devices provide at least some of the following discrete inputs: coins in, coins out, coins to drop, games played, attendant paid jackpots, slot door, drop door, progressive jackpots, and bill validators. The system supports all of these discrete inputs as well as others.

The DCN keeps track of the machine activity by maintaining several meters in memory. Each meter, in the preferred embodiment, includes six digits. Moreover, to improve the reliability of the system, the DCN maintains redundant backup copies of these meters with an o1 order to replace the original meters in the event that the originals are corrupted. In step 268, the DCN increments the meters as required based on the discrete inputs. The meters are maintained even in the event that the DCN is disconnected froin the floor controller. Once the DCN is reconnected to the floor controller, all the activity level information is is then available. Step 268 will be discussed further below.

Next, the DCN processes the drop door signal in step 270. The drop door signal DROP DOOR indicates that the drop door on the machine has been opened. This is an important event and is therefore processed separately.

In step 272, the DCN validates the meter values to determine whether the values stored in the meters are valid. The DCN checks whether the meter values are valid in step 274. In the preferred embodiment, a check sum is maintained for each meter value. Thus, the DCN in step 274 checks to see whether the check sum is correct based on the current meter value. If the meter values are okay, the discrete input monitoring step 260 is complete. If the meter values are not valid, the DCN replaces the meter values with the redundant back copy of the meter values in step 278, and then the step 260 is complete.

Referring now to FIG. 15, increment meter step 268 is shown in so further detail. The sequence shown in FIG. 15 is repeated for each meter value that has changed. The first step is to adjust the meter value based on the discrete inputs and to calculate the associated check sum. Next, the DCN determines whether the particular meter has an active associated countdown count in step 282. Some ganes or promotional activities require the player to reach a certain level of activity in order to be eligible for certain bonus points These countdown counts are used to determine whether thile player has achieved this level of activity. For example, the player may be required to play a certain number of coins before being awarded any points. If tlhe countdown count is active, tile to D)CN adjusts the current players count down values in step 284 based on the corresponding adjustment of the associated mnter.

In step 286, the DCN sets the current message to the count down message. The count down message inlicates to the player when he or she will be eligible for the bonus points. Finally, in step 288 the DCN sets the is current bezel color and rate to a count down color and rate. This color and rate information is subsequently transmitted to the player tracking node for processing, as described futrther below. T'he count down color indicates the bezel color and the count down rate indicates that flashing rate of the bezel color displayed during the count down m(essage.

4. PROCESSING GAMING DEVICE; SERIA INTERF'ACE Referring now to FIG. 16, a I)process 262 for processing the gnmning device serial interface is shown. The serial machine interface 60, as shown in FIG, 2, allows the DCN controller 46 to communicate wvith the giraming device through the personality board. This serial inrachine 2s interface allows the DCN controller 46 to transmit reconfgura ion commands to the gaining device in order to reconfigure the payout schedule of the machine in accordance with the reconfiguration command.

In addition, the serial machineinterface provides an additional means for determining the activity level of the gaining device. Instead of reading I( the discrete machine inputs, the DCN controlier 46 can transmit a status request command to the machine over thre serial interface and the machine can respond back with the requested status informiatLion.

Any comnmunication protocol can be used to implement this commnunication path over the serial machine interface, as is known in the art. An examnple of one such protocol uses a data packet including a comm11and code, a mnessage sequence number, a CRC, arid a variable length mnessage. In the preferred emnbod itmentt, either the DON controller 46 or the machine can iinitiate comimunications over thle serial machine interface. Ilowever, if the mnaclime detects that the DON is trying to send a message to the~ machine, the mnachine miust abort its InC5ss-agC and attmipt to resend the nissago at a later timle.

Tb he preferred cml ioU irnent of the system supports iany different, reconfiguration cotriniaids, A partil l-st of the reconfigiration command1,s is given below in, Tlable L. These rcconkgtratiozi coa'inandis lire sent from the 'DON controller 46 to the inachine over the serial machine interface wherein the nachi ne reconfi gu~res its payout schedule in accordance with the partLicular reconfiguration coniiniaid. The reconfigution 10 c011ITflliflis do not originate with the DON, instead the recOnIi guiratifon commamnds originate fr-om the floor controller anid are transmitted to a particular machine over the associated current loop network or the coinmaznd can originate at one oif the other computers oil the high speed network. The DON is simply responsible for forwarding thle reconfiguration commvrand onto the gaming device on receipt of thle reconfiguration commiandl over the associated current loop network coupled between the floor controller and the DON.

Table 1. Exa mples of Reconfiguration Comm~nands 1. Bonuis Pay Fron flopper (Coin Format) 2. lBonuis Pay to Credit Meter (Coin Format) 303. Bonus Pay fromn Hopper (Dollar Format) 4, Bonus Pay To Credi t Meter (Dollar Format) Add Non-cash outable credits to Game 6. Begin Double Jackpot Time 7. Stop Double Jackpot Time The actual process of processing the machine serial interface begins in step 292 wherein the DCN polls the machine to determine its level of activity. This polling step includes sending a status message from the DCN to the machine over the serial machine interface. In response, the machine will send a packet of status information indicating the current amount of activity on the machine. The status information included in the response will depend on the type of machine that the DON is commnunication with.

The data communication node 42, in step 294, waits for a reply to the status request. If a reply is received, the DON indicates that the r, machine is "on line" in step 296 and processes the machine reply in 298.

The step of processing the machine reply includes updating the meter values, as done when processing the discrete inputs. After the machine reply has been processed, the process 262 is complete.

If the DCN does not receive a reply from the machine in step 294, the DCN indicates that the machine is "off line". The DCN will wait for a predetermined amount of time before deciding Ltat the reply is not received. In the preferred embodiment, this predetermined period is approximately 110 milliseconds.

PROCESSING NET'WORK INTERFACE Another step in the DCN power up procedure 252 is the step of processing the network interface 264. This step is described with reference to FIGS. 17-19. The network interface refers to the current loop that connects the particular DON with the associated floor controller.

The following description assumes that the DCN has received a valid so message from the associated floor controller. Because there are multiple DCNs connected to any one current loop, the floor controller must include some means for addressing a particular machine.

Although each machine includes a unique identification number which could be used as the actual address for each DCN on the current loop, it is unnecessary to use the unique identification as the actual address because there are only a limited number of DCNs connected to each current loop. Accordingly, in the preferred embodiment of the invention, the floor controller uses a shorthand token representation of the DCN's unique identification number to address the DCN. In the Io preferred embodiment, a single byte address is used to address a DCN on any given current loop. This one-byte address allows up to 256 IDNs to be supported on any given current loop network. In the preferred embodiment, however, only 64 such DCNs are connected to a single current loop and therefore the single byte address is more than adequate.

is The single byte address substantially reduces the amount of traffic on the current loop network by reducing the number of bytes from four in the unique identification number to one for the shorthand token representation.

The floor controller is responsible for generating the unique single byte address for each data communication node on a given current loop network. The process of assigning unique single byte addresses to the DCNs is described below in Section C.

Once all the DCNs have been assigned a unique address, the DCN can begin monitoring the current loop network for messages addressed to it. If the DCN detects a message addressed to it, the DCN executes step 264. The DCN first checks to see whether the message is valid in step 304. This check is done by computing the CRC value of the message and comparing it to the CRC included with the message. If the two CRCs match, the message is valid and the DCN processes the network message o in step 306. Processing the network message is described further below with reference to FIGS. 18 and 19. Once the message has been processed, the DCN sends a reply back to the floor controller over the current loop network in step 308. The actual substance of the reply will depend on the message received in step 306. If the message is invalid, the DON does not reply.

Referring now to FIG. 18, the first step of processing the network message is to determine what type of message was sent from the floor controller in step 312. There are three basic types of messages that the floor controller sends to tIhe DC.N. The first is a request for data from the io DCN. If this type of message is detected the DCN builds the data requested and transmits the data in a reply message. The main use of this message type is to gather status and meter idormation from the

DCN.

Another type ofmrnessage is one including configuration data for the is DCN. This messnge allows the floor controller to implicitly set the DON's memory to a fixed value. This message is used to override the DON's internal variables, to get a DON out of a lock-up condition, or to download new firmware to the DON forexecution. On receiving this type ofinessage, the DC)N simply overwrites its memory with the configira tion o data included in the configuration message in step 316, The )CDON then builds an appropriate acknowledgment and transmits this acknowledgment message to the floor controller in step 320.

The other type ofmessage is one sent in response to a DCN request.

The DCN processes this data in step 318, which is described further in FIG. 19. If the message includes either the con figuration data or the data in response to a DCN request, the DCN builds an acknowledge message in step 320 and transmits this message to the floor controller.

The step of processing a floor controller message sent in response to a DCN ri-equest will now be described with reference to FIG. 19. The first step of processing this type of message is for the IDCN to determine what.

type of data is included in the mressage. Once again there are three typ~es of data that can be included in this mnessage type: a reconfiguration command, card dlata, or other minor data. The DCN makes this deteninin.AtiOn1 in step 324 by analyzing one of the bytes Iii the data packet of the message. This byte will be referred to herein as the command byte.

If the command byte indicates that the mnessage contains reconfiguration danta, ic., the command byte equals a reconfigura-tion command, the DCN stores the reconfiguratLion data in a predefined data structure in mlemory.

Listed below in Table 2 is an example of a data structure foir storing the reconlfiguration data.

Table 2 Re corifhgurahton Data Structure J Bonlus Type 12. Mystery Jackpot Data: IsA. Numnber of coins to award B. Number of seconds to award C. Pay award to 3. BOnIUS Time Data A. Jackpot Multiplier B Jackpot Payout Limitations C. Number of Seconds to Keep Bous Time Active Minimium Activity Level The bonus type field of the data structure indica-tes thle type of bonus state the machine is to be placed in,.xmlso otnill0u modes include progressiveynofprogressive, mul tiple jackpot, (orT mystery jackp~ot. If the mystery jackpot is indicated, the mystery jackp)ot data includle'] in the structure specifies the. conditions under which the mnyster-Y jackpot. is Paid out. The mIystery jackpot can he set to payout, e.g.,,after a certalin number of coins% in, handle pulls, which is Specified by subfields of the mnystery jackpot data.

The bonus time jackpot is a promiotion wherein the machine pays OUt More than that dictated by its default payout schedule., In one embodiment of the bonus time promotion, the payout schedule of the machine can be modified to be a multiple of its default to payout schedule, as specified in subfield of the bonus time data. This promotion can be used to encourage gaming activity during off-peak hours, midnight to 4 a.m. on weeknights. Alternatively, the bonus time promotion canll be activated on a random basis. The timning of the multiple jackpot is specified by the casino on one of the computers connected to the network.

The bonus time data also specifies the conditions under which the player becomes eligible for the bonus time jackpot. The subfield of the bonus 1o time data specifies whether the player is eligible for the bonus tirne data only if the player is playing the maximum coin in the machine. Subfield limits the bonus time proinmotion to a predetermined llnumber of seconds. This field limits the bonus tine promotion to a predetermined number of seconds; if the player does not hit a jackpot wilhin this is specified time period, the bonus time promotion concludes. The minimum activity level can also be specified in subfield This field can be used to specify the minimum activity level required by the player in order to be eligible for the bonus time jackpot. For example, the player can be required to play at least 20 coins over the last three minutes in order to eo be eligible for thile bonus time jackpot An indicator light onil the player's machine can he used to indicate when the player reaches the minirmu activity level and thereby becomes eligible for the bonus timlle jackpot.

In another embodiment of the bonus Lime prominotion, a bonus amount is awarded in addition to the payout according to the default of s the payout schedule of the machine. The aimount of the l)onus jaclkpot is specified in subfield of the bonus time data. For exmnple, this bonus tirme promotion might include five bonus amounts of $10, $25, $50, $100 and $500, which is specified by subfield When a player hits a particular jackpot, whichever bonus amount is specilFied by the bonus .s amlount subfield this amount is automatically paid out in addition to the payout amount determined by the machine's default payout schedule.

This bonus time promotion can also be used in combination with subfields and to specify the conditions under which the player is eligible for this bonus time jackpot award.

After the DCN has stored the reconfiguration data in step 326, the DCN will then send the appropriate reconfiguration command to the machine over the serial machine interface in step 328. The machine, responsive to the received reconfiguration command, reconfigures its payout schedule in accordance with the received reconfiguration command. For example, if the reconfiguration command specifies a multiple jackpot condition, the machine will reconfigure its payout to be a multiple of its default payout schedule. The machine will reconfigure its payout schedule in a similar manner for the other bonus types.

The other type of data that can be included in a response from a s1 DCN request is card data or player tracking data. This data is sent to the DCN in response to a status message from the )CN to the floor controller wherein the status message indicates that a player card has been inserted. Included in this message is the card ID number detected by the card reader. In response to this status message the lloor controller will transmit a card insertion message to the DCN. The card insertion message includes information associated with the particular player ID number. An exemplary card insertion message data packet is listed below in Table 3.

TABLE 3 Card Insertion Message Data Packet 1. Card Identification Number 2. Player First Name 3. Player Last Name 4. Current Point Balance 5. Casino Code Upon re ceipt of the card insertioni messag, th O toe h player' q naine'ad Points in ordrh r for this informiationl to be dispiahdo the VFD display associa ted with the pl ayer trackinrg node. Then, al)ON sets the current message to a daita received niessage in step 334. Finally, a ICN 'sets thjc current bezel coloi and bezel rate to a data received bezel color and bezel rate in 'step 33 TbIhe be zel color specifies the bezel color to he displaiyed by the caird re id r and the bezel rate specifies thef nasldng ratet of the crd r.ieader LEWD' TI hs bezel informaition i's subsequently transmfittedI to the player traxcking~ node for processingl thereby.

'I hei hi.. data type Lbhat cm in c included in the message sent fromn the floor controller in response to aDN requoest. is teerr- aly clssiie as other inir data. This data includes general systrm or D(ON peciW inlformation Such as d iaspl ay informatLion.

6. PWOM(TSl N t PI.AYM{ 'RACKING

INTERF.ACE

The next step in the DO)N process is processing of the player tracking int.erface 266. The IF ,N ra int ains a variabde that indicates what mnessage is to be sent Uo the pla~yer traickin node T his variable is referred to as the current miess-age vaiable. NBfore transiiiitting a mnessage to the ployer trackin node, the DC:N I-i rs'tcheck this variable to see which oif a plurality of nies-uges 'houl I he Sent to the player tracking node.

The process 2-66 begdis in 340 by sendhigthe currentmeisage to the player tracking node that is specified by the current message variable.

In addition to tie current mnessage, the DCN sends the bezel color andl "s bezel rate infarnmnon to LIwx pl aver tiack inig node. The bezel color anid bezel rate infot maGtin could have been specified by the floor controller or by the DC N itself.

Next, the DON determines the card status in step 342. If there is no caird in'serted in the card! reader, the DON sets the uurrent, mressage so variasble to an attract mecssage. This message specifes that the player track-ing node is to d "spl)1ay a mlessaga whlich will -attract players to the maehnQ. iml-ila, th.9Nst the curren t bezel color and bezeli rate to a atrac beel olor and rate ill step 346- T~his attract color adrt is part of the attract mnessage that wHilb sent to the player tracking node When the currunt oea is S'ot if tile DCON determtines thait a good card hias been inserted ini thel( cad reader, thw DON Owoe e h vailid card in stiep 350. Th1is step is, described furthr below with refecrence to FIG. 2L.

If, howvever, thet card st'it us indicates that a bad card has been inserted, One, an invalid cardI tounher, the I)ON sets the current uiessa ge varviable to spe cify a card error inessage in 352 and the I sets; the currenrt bezel coilor and hcezel rat-e to a card error color and rte in354 This Card 01-1-01 ;ihrmnaltiOT is included with the card error Inessage that is sent to the player tracking node when the current inessag'e is sent.

157. Pitocrssih( CARD INSERTION Ref'ering njow to P11-24, the: process 350 for processiii(" a Vahd card insertioli is sliown, Th'e( first step that the DON executes is to dletermnine wheter the card data corrcesponding' to the valid card has been receiv(cil fromn the floor con trllebr in step 356. If riot, the DON huils a network n's ige fe- the p1lyer narruie and poinlts associated with thle card ID umer n tep'358. Next, the DON sets the currn nis vai dde to specify a card inserted message is to be transmnitted inl step 360.

Finlly, the DON sets the current. bez~el color and rate to a c ird insvi-ted color- aind rate, which indicates to the player that. the systen is still processing the card nuinter. This in forinatiol is sent to the plaiyer trckn node when the currenft tie-sage is et If the card data has been received fromi the floor conti oiler, the DOIN thenl determlines in step 366 whether player tracking has st'm3rted for the particular player. .I fplayer tracking" has riot yet started, the DON sets the socurrent. niessage vaiabla to the data received mnessage inl step a a d 0 sets the current bezel color and rate to data received color and rate in step 370. If player tracking has started, the DCN processes the player tracking in step 372, as described with reference to FIG. 22.

Processing player tracking 372 begins with the step of determining whether the player has received new points in 374. These points can be considered roughly as the equivalent of "frequent flyer miles" used by airlines. These points allow the system to run promotionals whereby individuals are given points or credit associated with their card that can be redeemed toward the purchase of goods or services offered by the casino.

Typically these points are redeemed at a redemption counter in the casino for meals or clothing, for example. The points, therefore, are an additional inducement to encourage play.

The player tracking system allows the casino to determine how and when the player is issued points. The casino can specify the type and number of coins that must be played before a player is awarded a given number of points. The system uses this specified information to inform the player of his or her progress towards receiving additional points. The system encourages play by informing the player of how many additional coins must be played before receiving additional points. For example, a player who is only one coin away from receiving points, but who desires to stop playing, may decide to play "one last coin" in order to receive the points. The system informs the player by displaying a message on the vacuum florescent display indicating how many coins the player is away from receiving additional points.

Referring now to FIG. 22, player tracking 372 begins with the step of determining whether the player has received new points in 374. If no new points have been received, the DCN sets the current message variable to specify a countdown message in step 376 and sets the current bezel color and bezel rate to a countdown bezel color and rate in step 378.

1'he countdowii bezel color and ra te indicates the player's, progress towards be-,ing awarde d additional points.

If new points; hve been, received, such as where the player has played a given nunhi of coins. the i)CN sets the current message variable to a points Nwon inessage in step 382 and sets the current bezel color and rate L.o a points won color and rate in step 384, Tw points wvon Txiesaig( mnfoi rins the player of the numiber of point-swn Th~le above-descrilied tracking proess p rovide a nieans for providin ii enl feedbnck to tie player inserting the- ca rd into the card reader. By modifying the bezel color and bezel rate. tHie data Counin.i nication node provides inunediat e feed ick to t he player properly in to the card reader so tha t the mad reader ens a valid user identifcation number, the cuiril readet provides positive visual feeolack to the user by illumnin atingt Ihe bezel. On the other hand, if the user iimperly in serts the card so tha thi0en rd realii c iatm read the user ilentification niumber, He card reader can provide negative visual fieedbaclk to the player by ill umlinating the hezard with a differentclo and/o r flashiing rate. In the preferred enhodimien t, this- positive. visual a~feedback includes flashing the grmni I ,EI!s to prod ucE a [l,.sI i g green signal ar ound the car~d reader opening. 'he negative visul felRAk include~s flashing the redi LEDs. A t'hijrd cominination color is nse(!rdurin g the processng of the player tracking in form a (ion. This process provides utninediate feedback to the player concerning the irsertion or the card in -S the card rca der.

19 AYERTIACIKING IO DIILE.

The~ syster described above allows for improved player tracking by recording each andI every imacline transation including: timle of play, rrachiinc, number, iluratni (if play, coins in, coins out, hMn paid jackpots ~o andc gaines played, The player tracking is cond ucted over thme samne network as the accounting data is extracted. This allows the system to provide bonusing to certain individual players as well as during certain times. As with standard player tracking, the above-described system monitors and reports how many coins are played by each player. The system described herein, however, also includes the ability to record how long each player spends at each machine and the number of coins won, games played, and hand jackpots won by each player. The system is able to record all this information because the it operates on a transaction by transaction basis. Each transaction, whether it be a coin in, a handle pull, etc., is recorded by the system. Other prior art systems simply compile the player tracking information at the completion of play.

All the transaction information is stored on the database, which can be later analyzed for future targeted direct mailing campaigns. The player tracking allows the casino to schedule buses and other groups and measure their profitability. Because the system records each transaction, the casino can reconfigure their casinos to better match the tastes and demands of their customers.

This improved player tracking system also allows the casino to calculate theoretical wins exactly because the system always includes the most current information. The operation of the player tracking procedure is described below.

1. POWER UP PROCEDURE The operation of the player tracking module will now be described with reference to FIG. 23 where the powerup process 400 for the player tracking node is shown. As in the data communication node, the player tracking node first validates the RAM and sets up its associated hardware in step 402. Next, the player tracking node tests the RAM in step 404 to determine whether the RAM is functioning properly. If not, the player tracking node, player tracking controller, terminates its program in an error condition in step 406. If the player tracking RAM is fully furl ctionalJ, the player tracki nde sequeitiil Iy exe,(cuteS steps .408-4,14.

In step 408 the play er tracklng. coflt roller processes tle lIONinterface b~etween the player tracking controller and the DON cont~roller. In step 410 the player tracking controller uipdat es the player tracking display, i ste-p 412 the p'layer truckitng cu itroli' r updates the lmzel. ViMAI the Player tracking controller prosmy50 the card nmd e r in Mtep 114. Each of theset step"S will now be described flirther below, 2. lo(M1(IO'N

INT'ERFACT

R~eferring now to FIG. 2, the stvps for pc5gthe T)CN interace' are shown. Frst, the player tracking coil ollr cecks for a new mossa;ge the player VU ac~n! COMit 4 Ihf Own 6 Y ii(' its cu r it, tnesg(;l huller with the niew niessage a"nd LIJt ltE~ tic bezel~ col1or;and rate vale-s with (those con ta ired in the rio wci r ren t rnes05 ,ge 'Ii len, the p a er tracking builds a car~d stat us reply tnessate in step 420. l'he card staus message indicateos vwhte a enrd h as been inserted and( if so whethier the card was a [Wad corid or a had ca to e, tw me ard was rmad properly by Ohe card reader. i a. valid card, the curd st-a Ls reply nlossa ge also incluodes the identification niurnber encoded on the card- Th'lis step might also iO nvolve transposinth~Ile tiumrber encoded on the card depeOnding onA the( orieOiiOOn in which the card was inserted into the card reader. Th'is card statam reply aessage in thcn sent to the DCN in stp422.

P~ROCESSING, DISPLAY IJr1)AT1-, Thm process (if umpdatng I he player tracking (lisplay is shown in FIC.

12 25 at 410. This process begins wit~h thn player tracing controller scalnilig the display rneSage for dis lay a Itrihute infortnation.

Examples orsuch djsjday alt rihule informartt is U ghi\'clsow inlTable, 4.

Each dispay attribute specifies a diffPure t graplhic- mode for thie player tracking display.

TA~IM t DISPLAY AITluntruS

INFORNUVIION

L. Flash Rate 1 (Center Display Set Display Intensity 4- Use Small Lower Font Ust Small Upper Forit 6- Lbe Normal Large Font, 7. Set Pause Tine 8. Se t Scroll Speed 09- nti and MDlt 1 (Center andi Scroll D)own it. cenft( r and Scroll UpI ly SmvH oTlown and 5101) 13 Scr oll UP and Slop Sc mnl Left and Stop anid 1.um of Messag 11 Sell D~own 1is ScH oiUlp I7 Saill Right 18, Suoll Left 2019. Reverse Video 24. Normal The player tracking controller theni detormi mes whiether any sunch attribute jnforinatian As tud i tMe 4isply nisg.If* so, the playe r ,zs tracking controller sets upl the display driver to incorporate ilt'e graphics mnode spe~cified by th e attribute iNforMaion. ViTe playr t racinmg control k r t 1 irn strips out arny display xlii ihutei ilforinatiofl hroml the display message in step 432 beenuse the dlisplay attlrbntv Adomwition is eruiedded in the display nmessae TIhe re mainig data inl the display 3o inessage is, tbe actual text to b~e displayedA by the player tracking,, display, eg., the player's name. The player tricking controller then sends this text to the display In step 434, which is then displayed hj the player tracing display.

4- PROuCESSI[NG BFZE1, UPDrtTI 3S The player traceking niode is also responsile for uipdating, the bezel, bo)th in terms of its color and flashing rate. This pr-ocess 4 -12 is shown ill FIG. 2R. The first Mtep in processing th bezel update is to determdoe Lo beze color as specifed by the l)CN and then drive thet aipprofi (to II) th e (a rd re adeor. A s descri bed above, t1hie p refe rred errbod illifn1t of theW card reader includes dual dWoes having two primiary coo(d udes* "ta caii 1)0 dt-iven 1 separately or in counaW~ to ProQhlC thMe diferent colors.

Next, the process detenues the bezel rate as spe died by the l)GN.

I a first case, the bezel rate is ze(ro o1. off and thus the player MrAkNg conoler turns the LE~s. off in step 4412 in this case. If the bezel rate specifies a flasling rate, the player tracking conitroller lse the .eze io at the appropriate be-zel rate inl ste -p 4412, lshn the bezel jflwr~v(e turni the 1,EI~s on and oif at the specified rate. This can be accomlplished by a timer joteruo a1 itimng l(oop execumed by the player tracking controller, Thel( final option i;that the rate con b~e infinite or effectively -A solid bezel. color. In tis ce, the playe r tracking controller rs simply leaves the card read~er L'I sD on in step 4146 T1his c ompletes the processing bezel update process 412 PRO( ;tSSIN(G CARDT REgADER The next process step for the player tracking n(ode is to rcesthe card rfeader. Tfhis process 414 issbA=v in FICI. 27. The first, s.tep is for thle player trackinig controller to dete rilnIle td card statusl- i n 4 Ft. Indthe pref erred eilibodirnen t, the card status is deterinnd lIv comparing the checksum i of' the card, as reaid off the card by the caird rcander, to iil coMputed chiecksumn of the data cead off thie card. Other metAhods of deterrmining ca rd sttus can be used as well depeicnogon the type ofecard I! reader era lployed.

If the player trackinr controlleri detcrniines thata valid card was inser-ted in the card reader, the pla)yer traicking controll1er sets a card status variable equal to good card. This cartd status is When subsequently transn attd to the MA.N con xoller. Tbhen, the player trtackinV con trollecr ii) sets a card IDt variable eqmnl to the idpnt~ifcaimi n umber rea(I by the cardI reader in step 45)4. The card status and the card ID) provide 'D(CN with, sufFicient informiationi to instigiate the playertrci.

if, (in the other hand, the card reader indicates, thait the card w as read imnproperly or th at. the mad is an Inalid cad fOr thm ra readm, tWe player tracking controller stts the card stati-is varial d to had ad in step 458 and the card ID) variable is cleared in step 4608. i neither a valid or invalid c,3 ed condition wils de~teted iii 450O, ths, player tracking Nm 1 tsiller sets, the card stiahis varialhe to tn card in step 462 w ind (Miirs out tHie card ID) in 460, 11) (1 FLOXOR (WNTI{OIAElt.

1 1()W1R UPI luoCEAWIm' -Ref'erring now toIGS(i8 28-32, the pi ocess 16-4 operal te on MI e floor controller w1ill now be describe I The process 464 is shwAn in MTW 283- 32 in flow chart [rrns These fPow charts wovfuld ena~ble one ot ordlnwury 0~ skill in the art Lo implelnent the proces Wn cool nter sofware oem g an The Ploor controler process 464 begin i t steqp 4G6 by opening the da talni se taiblets in the file server. A s de scvibed aitne, tHie File secrver inlclud~es a coninercially-av ailalile dat abase progran "AN v.

1 itsores the -2o raCh i n activity inflonrnatol as well as player tracking in .rnxat inn and lissocliatedl systemn ch aracteiristic parn raters. 116se stop 466 can also in~clude fetching somei or all of these sysl ei( chiaracteristics in ordur to trigger certaini events such ais bonus jackpots, as descri bed beowv In ste p 46G8, the floor controller termu nnites a oy activet player sessions in th e databse. B~eca use pi aver trackinog may have been in pro gress wheii the floor controller became Amerwielte, %Owin tOw.

floor cointroller powu~s up or beconeL operable, S ere inay 1w e payer tracking sessions initially active. In t his step, thme floor cointroller teruiflo ates any such aictive pldayer tracking sessions in order to place the dIatabiase in wan initial state.

Another step that the floor controller executes after becoming operable is to place an initial machine search message in an output message queue 470. This search message is used by the floor controller to determine which machines are connected to the floor controller. This output message is subsequently transmitted to all of the machines coupled to the floor controller using a global message format, as described below with reference to FIG.

31. In the preferred embodiment of the system the message handling is through the use of message queues. Furthermore, the preferred embodiment is both an output queue for outgoing messages from the floor controller to the machines and an input message queue for messages coming from the machines to the floor controller. Queues are well-known data structures in the art of computer science and are therefore not further discussed herein. Alternatively, the message-handling could be done without the use of the queues. In such an embodiment the outgoing messages would be sent immediately rather than being queued, and any incoming messages would be processed immediately.

The bulk of the work performed by the file server process 464 is performed in message processing step 472. In this step, the floor controller processes all messages sent to or received from the machines connected thereto. This step will be described further below with references to FIGS.

29 through 31.

The process 464 also includes a system monitoring step 474. This system monitoring step 474 administers certain system-wide events. These system-wide events include the counting-related events and bonusing events. The floor controller continuously checks to see whether any of these events have been triggered. If any event has been triggered, such as a bonusing event, the floor controller takes the appropriate action to handle the event. The event may be triggered by the time and day or by user nterv(,ltifo o(ther eTvent Th'e system mionit-oring step 474 will he dlescribed furthier below with reference to FIGS. 32 and 33.

The finai step in process 464 is Or the Bloor coil oller to chek for flteieition condition in step 17C), In the pr eferi ed embod0irrelt, the floor con troller Checks to deterinet wheth or ai E S( aPe key as prssed.

If an E SO kMy was pressed, the Blort Clt roller teirmillates, the poess 4(;4 If o E3C key was pre.ssed, thw Door conitroller loops hack to Ate 4742 -he("in tle 1csa4gt Ateuaidth y~ 1 mofljt uring step are rf peat'ed. The floor controller~ cotnUr ini the loop) 47140; until the ter mrtion colidi tio n is sense& 2, fM1ES ,AGE, PROCISSING As doescribedi above, the floor control icr -acts as a ,Aewa beVC~ the Machies conimectedltirtL the t'ile sci\'0t as shown in FI 1 The4 floor controller is responsitble fborwardnintg the ni achi no activiy is received frotl e vaiis~ Iiidchiiies to the,- (latflhiiS I'he Door1 coiitxoller accoiniiphs this communication tl~ogithe rise of iiie5sage5 T1he viessage processingte~p4 hw nm~r detail in W1, '29.

The hi-s step in p1 ocensinl the iiessilges is forI t he- 110oor Controlle r to said -any muifags that;"are queu'-red op1 in the mu tpmut. ie55sl quene to m the appropi iti( data1 coninlinicaboLun node in step 41 As den 'r~sed above, the out put ini5ssa6O; qi-i is a simplle datai structure tliat is tw ed to store -bly perid-Ifl Inessag iluded in thme miessage is a destination address by wh ihe ie r onti oiler (ani determine which of thi plus lity of data( conifin ncatn nodes to send the mlessage to)_ Next. the floor coitroll(- receives ani imncnig nlessages lfon i thle dlata commiuunicattion nodes cupl( d to the floor controller in step 4S2. Onuce anm incorilg meCssage ha been received, the floor controller parses through thre Mnessage data in-cluded ithe iicornlitg miessage i steps 484 through 48.

In the pre!Ferred emboidmen~it, the floor controller parses thi-migh the a inessaZe data one byte at a tim. Thum, Af step 484 the Dloor controller rgads the neX~t b)yte in the, incomring jessage, andI in step 486 tin floor controller checks to see whether this is the last. ihyte in thle 1"sage '-'In the preferred emibodimrenit, the ToeSsage includes a 11essagoe length'L field wich iiidimlles the tninher of data bytes included in the rnessaige, In this case, a floor controller in step 48(6 chiecks to see whethier the nanber of bytes read in steop 484 is equal to the nuaber of bytes specified by the rnessage lengfth field- O~nce twheiPut nieSSZUe data has been Parsed oMt of the incaimg mlessaIge, the floor con ti olt taikes the appropriate iateti inl res.ponse to the mnessag~e data in step 488. This step is described furher below with reference to 1'I(S. 30and 31-l'o oigte.sae~adigse Mi the floor controner checks in step 490 to dete rmine whethier any re~ponse, is pandii Tl lo otolrmksti ee ntnlb heckingna Lrn i isactLios- an -pogress structure which indicates Whether the floor 1. controller neetds to respond to any pretvious tnessatPe If a res-ponse, is pending, the floor con trolle r qu~eues up an appropriate ot~going ill the Output mess55agO queue inistep 492. Otherwise, thef_ floor controller oomple~s the inessiige processing step 472- R:efer~rin~g now to FIC. the mesg~adigsto p .188 is shown in mnore detail. The esaehadigStep be gins by veront" o hat. the message data corresponds t) a ivalid message in step 496. i the p refeorred erahodi menL, the inessa ge includes a cyclical redundancy check, (CRC by which the floor coiitroller can determine whether the message is valid or corrupt. Only if the mnessage is valid wvill the: floor controller Perform any additional ~nsaebiiiigsteps. The floor controller also parses throug h the inless~l'' in step 496 to deternne what, type the inessm," i. in hemessage type" dete rinews the appropriate floor countroller action In the prefrwred enlbodiment, the rneSSaeS incliudea comm11andl codeC wheIci indicates the type of message- T1he fir'rt type of TICeSage can beone which includes new nieter informi-tion. The floor corntrollerchecks in step 498 to determine whether the mnessage includes this type of information. IF the ruessaige Kiclues new miete information, the floor controller saves the new mneter locally in step 500, TPhe floor controller ma intlains local copies of tHie meter inform-ation in order to in iniirnize the an tount of traffbc oil thei high-speed. network. 1ecause Hie ic acine inc I e an ilge so rapidly, forwarding this new meter m formationi on to the Mie serer eMc tie one of these mreters is YO %mre ould pr-od iw aii excessive amount Wf i t work tra ffic oni the hli 'h l oe netw, ork. Thwerore, ill Lbe prefe-rred enmb odiment thlenfoor cotrllt r ';ave 5 this nrwv meterio1 nfiraion locally ini step 500 and only forwanrd thn ineW ioforration Oil to the O, Server aft~er a pi deati mned a mount of tinme has elapsed.

Anothe type of mnam~'~ is one which. reust at.Te floor I r con trollh In ,,ks in step 502 to detrmine xvhheir the mnessage type is one requesting data. Typically, these, dat'a roque. is will be For player tracking,, inform'Tation such as whee a player inserts a cad into a cardl reader whereUp)on tile data coinmuni.(cation associauted therewmith sends the identification number encoded on the, card to the floor controller ~o requesting the player tracking data ass~ociatedl with the player identification number. If the floor contrller10 detects a data re!quest ill step 502, the Nlor controller looks up the reqluested data in the database on the file server in step 504. Also, in step 504, the floor controller mnarks a, response pending in the trasactions in progress structure to irlcicate, that this requested data needs to be soul back to the DCN. As dascrihlsd above, the Floor controller qi icues up out going messages responsive to the tr-ansactions in progress structure.

Another message type is one used by the floor contololer to estabish new mach ine add resses. The Floor contrxoller periodica-lly checks to deterniine wheithler any new D(N has been) coupled to its as~sociated ,current loop networks in order to assign a unique address to that mnachine. In step 5106, the floor controller cheeks to see whether the incoming m~essagILe is in response to such a process. If the i nco m ing rnessin'C is in response to a machine search the floor controller assigns S a new machine address to the responding ra,-chike in step 508. The entire Process of assigning new macwhine addresseqs is descrr~bed beluw with reference to FIG. 31.

Finally, the floor controller in step 5 10 hanlleI-S any Mniscellaneous messages. These mniscellanie'ous messages- are ised primarily For debuggiii and trotlblet-ShOOting the machines.

3- ARsSIGNING GA.MING DEVICET V)DRE.I S3F As described albove, in the preferred embohdimlent of thie invention, the floor controller uses a shorthand toen representation of the DCN's unique identification number to addres-s the D(N. fin the preferred unbodiment, a single byte addnes iA used to ddres a DCN an any Oiven current loop. This one-byte address allows up to 256 L)CA to be supported on any given current loop n(twork. Iii the prefe rred embodiment, only 64 such DONs are -onntecte d to ai singloe urrMit loop network and therefore the single h~yt.e address is inore thanu adlequate.

The sEnle byte aidldress substantillY reduces th-imul tof traf'llc of the current loop networK by reducing the numnber of bytes From four iii the unique identifitaion numrber to one f'or the shorthand Whoen represenltation-.

The floor controller is responsible, for generating the unique single byte address for each data communication node oni a given current loop network. The process 508 of a.,-signing unique addi esses, to the DONs on the current loop network is shown in FIG. 31. The process begilns by defining a range of unique ideruiCcatioli numbers in step) 512. Initially this will be a large range.

Next, the floor conitroller sends out a Insag to i ftei~a the cturrent. loop network in step alt4 The floor controller commnunicateas with the I )ON by using a standard caminnmca ti)n protocol. In the preferred embodiment, ths protocol defines a mnessag~e Formnat including, a destination ID, a source 11t) a rnessaigy inthi a d At pua ct Ad a CRC.

Other message formatscoud he tsed as well- sngti orathlo controller Can ConufluIiCate With a111 Of the DONs on the cur11rent loop network b~y xming~ a global destination a(dress in thet message. This globl~a destiationl atdVss would Auditate to the DiOM that ORhissngeP~ W0 is inltended,~ for all DNsou the! current loop networ~k. This global nessage wW include two U nique idetitificati,u no-urbers that, taken together, define the range of runqlue jdentjheat. noumbers established in step 51'2 The individual DCA~ then checks to see whether their unique is identjfication nu mber fWls within this ran ge- IfE a OCNh unique identification mnmbr fIlIs Within this rngev and the DON doe not havoan address assigned thereto, the DON then responds, to this glJobal riesag by sending a reply meussaige in response that includles the unique idea ti Fcation tiumbertf that DON. In tihtevent, 01that mre than one DON has a unique identification nuanberfhit fallIs withiin th1is ranI ge a network collision will occur and Uthe ne Nill he corrupted- TIhe proess 508 cheecks frw thi contibon in step 51(1 This condition is indicated by an invalid GRC in the mesqsage- In the event of a networ k collisoon, the floor controllr can limt tbe range, of unique i dentdicntion numnbers by repeating step 512 in t he hope of e'liminlatingv this ni -twoil r ont ent ion If the response ha a~ valid CRO, the floor controller assigns. a runique addIress to the responnding DCb Ns is denitified b1 the unique identifRcatiol numhe r in the romponst, in step 51M The floor coutroller Ou tenl tin nsu;ahts tis addie aln ,im'v'iffi the corre!sponding tiruque identificaionlniunber in an assinetiesg oal fteD, sn aWlbal destination address in sAtep5 rphe 1DONs then process this Message and inl the event that the tliique ideontification number included in the inessage correspoflds to the MIN's unique0 identification number, the DCN adopts the atldve.ss incluld( in the message. (.n)ce the DtT4 has been assigned anl address in this manner, the DION %vilI interpret Al subequlitinessa.,ges having a destination address equal to the assigned YWN address as being directed to thait DON 'Theahvderid add ress ;Issigi neft seque nve is repeated for eahoft hif remla in 1 in! MON lo on the current. loop network in step 522.ThM floor controller contimm1 thiS procesS until thet entiret rall go of aunique idici itifientiuji nullebrs has been caeomee and( nn o lre network collisions occxi r.

4. SYSITNI MON VI'M)IN( Referr ifg now to VIIG 32, the systemin olitoriljag s!tep 474 %vill now Is be desc.ribe d, The floor controller is now responsible for nmonitoring certain Systeni-xVide mu)ihions to determine wvhetfiert crtain events nee(l to occur. The System mneitorinig step also hanidles request for pa"rticular lmachine information. Th us, in rtepj 524, the floor controller (letertiincs whether a new rQ~luest has bMen placedl in the data base for such 2o particuilar machine inforaht Ioif such a request lIt,)s beeni placed, the floor cmntroler respon rds to Hte special repieust. for dat in step 526 by sending a, nessage to the pa rticular machine requesting the required informati~n. Once the required information has been received, the floor controller processes this infourmationi accord ingly.

2! The floor eon troller also mn li tars the locally-sto0red Meter informnation inl step 521 If tIw ie baly-stored in formation is chan1gedl,th Dloor controller saives the latest inforrmat ion to thie data base! in step 530.

As described above, the floor cont roller saves the mieter information locally in ordr to mininiee the( traffic to the h be server over the high 21) speed network.

The floor contrl-aler a].so mownitors the systern for Certaiin event triger insto 53. hese triger c(a he stored in the d ata base and fetched by the floor controller during its power Op procedures- These triggers indicate if and1( when certain evets occur. Examples of event triggers include: the dro,)period, the en~d-ni'-day, the I)OTIS period, etc.

Ifan event trigger has occurred, the flour con troller hli dl es the event in step 5M4 Thel( handle event step 53i4 is shown ifl more detail in) FIG. 33. The events can basically he bifurcatod in to accounting events and botusing everlts. conigeetee otedt o~~~iit~Iatv~yo h systeml Tlhe accounitling evenlts :l typically triggre~d by a certain tiule of day s-uch ais the end of day or the d:rop period. If an iccouinfg evet has been trimgyered, the floor controller peribris the required data b ase ojperationsi in sop, 538 Th is step involves updLatig A of the locall- Qstorild miet er inorinatin and smng tho updated nleter in flrmation into the data base.

Th'le other type of event. can be(. referred to as a housing event. The floor controler chiecks to see whether the event, is a bomuminr evnt, in step 5401. The bonusing events can also he( trigg,,,ered by the time of' day, For example, the bonusing ewmntma yb A rgeem onniduidit, to 4MO) a-in- onl weekdays. These henasing pcriocs can be specified in thr &Knt base. If the triggered event, I a bonusig even, the floor contracl ,r inserts at corresponding reconfiguration message in the out~put, message queue in step 542. The rec*onfiguration nmessage incloles a reconfiguraton cumnind that is scent, to an appropriate machine. The machine, upon rt cr n the rEomoifiguratiori command, ieconfigures its payout schedule in accordance with thc received reconf iguraf ioni comanid. Acc-ordi m to the invention, there are inany differenit reconfigurntioti comma nds to implemen~rt a multiplicity oif different :m0 bonusiri events One rconfiguratiori cormmand spe~cifies that, the ma-,chinle should reconfigure its payout sc hedule to be a1 multiple of its defaul payot schedule. This, reconFirm rat in icomn a ls pcf that thef, multiple payout schedule should be limited to a predetermined percentage of the coins in. This rconfig~urationi command can further specify that the inultiple payouts'choduh slhould bIe limTed to only mwen the roaxinkun coins are played. Tis reconfignratioil command can hi rthcer specify tiat the umdtiple payout schedule Owld to imited to paYouts in a specified range. ThS reconfiguratin command can also specify the multiple payout schedule should payout only when a1 o0 predeterinetd level of player activity is reached.

Another reco nipg ion commn allows any nuibohr of machinus on Ohe network to be combined in a commtion jockpoxt havin g a common jackpot payout sche(dule, whe rein the reco fl guratbii coimmnan d reconfigures the seleed tmchines to payout in accordance withi the commnon jack pot payout scheduile. In this case, tOwi recon figuration mnessage would he qu~euied up for each of the seletd machine's to be comined in a coinnon jackpot. One example of a common jackpot is a progressive jack pot. UinlIike the~ pri or art progrev jac pot sy stern, however, the! progressive jackpot according to the invention is not limited to a predeteruined num obr o macbines. In the Qpio art protgresim jackpot systemns, a bank of machines are connected to( a CoOn1 progressive jack pot controller and only those machines can be jole in the progressive jackpot, In contrast, any, macine on the network, including those connected to other Dloor controllers can he cmnin iid into common progressive jackpot. bloreover, the number of progressive jack pots is not Ui nited by To number of Bloor controllers since one Dloor controller can manage moire than one propresive jackpot.

Anoter rconfguraioncom1mand pernits the-systein to inipleinen t so-called "anItonmatic nmystery jackpoLs-" These "mystery" jack pots allow a inach ine to pa-yout a mnystery jackpot even whlenn aackpot was not won- Instadtherecorufigura t ionl couimand Canl specify thattemytr jackpot is to oc cur -ifte(r a certain number of coinls, a. certainubro hazndle pulls, or ava~rie ty of other conditions specified by the reco 01 guratioIl conuads. These niyst(-ry bonuses provide tlie caii0 0 withl another way to idue addional gating activity.

IV)NUS CONIRO I, Reflorring now to lFIG- 34, a mlethodi 550 For controlling the conditions undecr which the above-descrihed bolaus MitwOM ame actated is shown. I t is essential for the syStemn to have complete control over the.

14) aniount~ and conditions. nder which a bonus is paid out n order to inure the profitabili ty of the bonusiniig system, Th to met 1 od 550 describl),l provides the required control.

Ile uethod c55) begin in step 552 by disabling or turning oil the bonuises in the individ ua machines- Tb is is accomplished by sending a rnessage to the individual 1)CA to turn offor deactivate boniusiog, Nelxt, the Dloor coMnte mnonitors the activities of the individlual mnachinles connected th ereto. This step includes monitoring the coins inl and bonluses paid for the individual niachines, as des~cribed above. Inl step 5561 the floor controlle.r modifies a bonus pool 1y a predetermirned percetage of all coins playedl. The b.onus~l pool is e;sentlially a pool oif mnonetary resources that, can Ine. allocated for bonuis awards. In the preferred embod iinrent, a predleterm-ined percentage of the rnonetay value of the coins played are added to the bonus pool. Also i ths step, any bonuses paid by the gamring devices are als-o rneasured a nd subtraclted From the bonus pool. The use of the bonus pool will becomne more apparent when the other steps are (lemcried lbereinbaow.

In step 558, the floor controller determnines whethcr or not bonlusiog is active. If honiusng is act&v, the Door controller next determnes whether the bonus pool amiount has dropped below a predctcrrniiied no mnimumi level called the "lurn- off level in 560. 'ph minimum amount or floor can be set by the casino and provides a buffer to accounit for- largxe Lonus awards and/or u] tple bonus awards that could cause thle bonus payout to exceed the bon us pool. Tb leref'ore, ifthe bun is pom drops below the turn-off ltee, the WethN 550 bra nches back to step 552 and~ turns odlbonnsinig. As will described further belo w, the bon using remains off until such time as the bonus ol builds up1 past, .1 otl icer uoiillniI level WINe the thun-on" level.

Returning to step) 551 if the bonus is currently riot active, the floor controller ileterntines at step 5621 whether Lhe bonus poo b as reachedn a H) preIetecinined turn-on leOe. This tun-on level ca n ailso hnet by the cu1llio andl proi vdes a bulker ab~ove LBei to rn-off level to. inure that the' blousin!.' does not behave erratically, i-e, Don using rapIid~ly switchinig between an and oMIf Btte lWonos poo l i s not above the turn on level, bonusing is ignin turned off in step 5:52.

1I the bonns pool has reachied thle tulrn--on level, the Floor coIntrolle r checks to see whether other boinis corditions are mett at step 564. These bonus cond itiouns can include butare not limited to, a ininimumi period( ot time si ne I h last bonus air ion, a in inhiinun level of play in the tinie pei od prior to the bonus pool reaching the turn enI level, a 2n pi-edet erimoed I one of day, or oTer predeterinilned ondtiony s Thse conditions give the casino additionial control ior the haniusi g ptrmotions. If the conditions are not. iet, the meithod 5.50 branches back to step 552 where the honusing is again turned ol Kf, bow ever, the conditions are nmetin step 56-1,heblonns is tki riedton at step 566 and the es method 551) branches to step 554 where the machine acti vity is again inn itored.

In the preferred embodl)(iment, thl mnethod 550 is embodied ini software thA is executed by each of th~e floor controllers iii the systemn.

These floor controllers are then responsible for actiating or deacivtng Wo the bonusiN; fur the inolivid nal machines coon ectod thereto. The systemn -70/1 allows the floor controller to have multiple bonus pools and to have certain of the machines associated with a given bonus pool. Thus, the floor controller can implement multiple bonusing promotions simultaneously.

This system also allows for machines connected to different floor controllers to be combined into a single bonusing promotion. In this case, one of the floor controllers assumes primary responsibility for managing the bonus pool while the other floor controllers act as intermediaries between the primary floor controller and the machines connected to the other floor controllers. Thus, the system according to the embodiment allows for much greater flexibility in running bonusing promotionals than heretofore possible. Prior art systems required certain predetermined machines to be connected into a bank for any given bonus award such as a progressive bonus. The system according to the embodiment allows any machine in the casino to be combined in a bonus type situation. The system also insures that the bonusing promotionals will operate substantially in the black, the bonus pool is greater than the bonus payouts.

III. PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION Embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIG. 35 to Turning now to FIG. 35, indicated generally at 1010 is a schematic diagram illustrating electronic gaming machines (EGMs), like EGMs 1012, 1014, interconnected by a computer network. Included therein are three banks, indicated generally at 1016, 1018, 1020, of EGMs. Each EGM is connected via a network connection, like connection 1022, to a bank controller 1024. In the present embodiment of the invention, each bank controller comprises a processor that facilitates data communication between the EGMs in its associated bank and the other components on the network. The bank controller 1024 also includes a CD ROM drive for transmitting digitized sound effects, such as music and the like, to a speaker 1026 responsive to commands issued over the network to bank controller 1024. The bank controller 1024 is also connected -70/2to an electronic sign 1028 that displays information, such as jackpot amounts and the like, visible to players of machines on bank 1016. Such displays are generated and changed responsive to commands issued over the network to bank controller 1024. Each of the other banks 1018, 1020 of EGMs include associated bank controllers, speakers, and signs as shown, which operate in substantially the same manner.

Ethernet hub 1030 connects each of the bank controllers associated with banks 1016, 1018, 1020 of EGMs to a concentrator 1032. Another Ethernet hub 1034 connects similar bank controllers (not shown), each associated with an additional bank of EGMs (also not shown), to concentrator 1032. The concentrator functions as a data control switch to route data from each of the banks to a translator 1036. The translator comprises a compatibility buffer between the concentrator and a proprietary accounting system 1038. It functions to place all the data gathered from each of the bank controllers into a format compatible with accounting system 1038. The present embodiment of the invention, translator 1038 comprises an Intel Pentium 200 MHz Processor operating Microsoft Windows NT Another Ethernet hub 1039 is connected to a configuration workstation 1040, a player server 1042, and to bonus servers 1044, 1046. Hub 1039 facilitates data flow to or from workstation 1040 and servers 1042, 1044, 1046.

The configuration workstation 1040 comprises a user interface. It comprises a personal computer including a keyboard, Intel Pentium Processor and Ethernet card.

The player server 1042 comprises a microcomputer that is used to control messages that appear on displays associated with each EGM. Player server 1042 includes an Intel Pentium Processor and an Ethernet card.

Bonus servers 1044, 1046 each comprise a microcomputer used to control bonus applications on the network. Each bonus application comprises a set of 72 rules for awarding jackpots in excess of those established by the pay tables on each EGM. For example, some bonus awards may be made randomly, while others may be made to link to groups of EGMs operating in a progressive jackpot mode. Examples of bonuses that can be implemented by bonus servers 1044, 1046 and a network that could be used to implement the present invention have been hereinbefore described in the description of the system and network with reference to Figures 1 to 34.

FIG. 36 is a highly schematic representation of an electronic slot machine, which is typical of each of the machines in the network, that incorporates network communications hardware as described hereinafter. This hardware has been hereinbefore described in the description of the system and network with reference to Figures 1 to 34, and is referred to therein as a data communications node.

Included in EGM 1012 are three reels, indicated generally at 1048. Each reel includes a plurality of different symbols thereon. The reels spin in response to player input after a wager is made. FIG. 40 comprises the paytable for EGM 1012. The first three columns depict different combinations of symbols on the reels. The fourth column of Fig. 40 indicates the amount won on a single coin wager when the combination of symbols in the first three columns appears after the reels spin. Columns five and six indicate the amount won when two and three coins, respectively, are wagered. Any combination of reel symbols other than those shown in FIG. 40 does not result in a payment to the player.

The network communications hardware preferably comprises a machine communication interface (MCI) 1050. MCI 1050 facilitates communication between the network, via connection 1022, and microprocessor 1052, which controls the operation of EGM 1012. This communication occurs via a serial port 1054 on the microprocessor to which MCI 1050 is connected.

Microprocessor 1052 is also connected to a programmable read only memory (PROM) 1056, which controls the behavior of EGM 1012, and which may or may not include the paytable of FIG. 40, depending upon how the present invention is -73implemented, as described hereinafter. MCI 1050 may include a random access memory (RAM), which can be used as later described herein.

MCI 1050 also facilitates communication between the network and a player display 1058, a card reader 1060, a player-actuated push button 1062, and a speaker 1064.

Card reader 1060 reads a player-tracking card 1066 that is issued by the casino to individual players who choose to have such a card. Examples of a suitable card reader 1060, player-tracking card 1066 and player-tracking systems have been hereinbefore described in the description of the system and network with reference to Figures 1 to 34. Briefly summarizing such a system, a player registers with the casino prior to commencing gaming. The casino issues a unique player-tracking card to the player and opens a corresponding player account that is stored on accounting system 1038 (in FIG. 35). The account includes the players name and mailing address and perhaps other information of interest to the casino in connection with marketing efforts. Prior to playing one of the EGMs in FIG. 35, the player inserts card 1066 into reader 1060 thus permitting accounting system 1038 to track player activity, such as amounts wagered and won and rate of play.

In another embodiment of the invention, EGM 1012 in Fig. 36 can be operated in a stand-alone mode, without connection 1022.

Consideration will now be given to the operation of the network and associated equipment depicted in FIGS. 35 and 36. First, selected configuration parameters are implemented at each EGM. As discussed above, these configuration parameters may be implemented by either installing a PROM, like PROM 1056 in FIG. 36, in each EGM to be configured or by placing the EGM in a configuration mode and thereafter generating inputs to the EGM, or a combination of and Alternatively, and also in accordance with the present invention, configuration parameters can be implemented by generating computer commands at configuration workstation 1040 that are transmitted via -74the network to a selected one or more of the EGMs. For example, and with reference to FIG. 36, such commands can be transmitted over the network to MCI 1050 via connection 1022. The commands may either reside in the random access memory (RAM) contained within MCI 1050, or can be transferred to RAM (not shown) associated with EGM 1012 via the serial port 1054 of microprocessor 1052. In the latter case, the code so transferred is received by microprocessor 1052 and then stored in the EGM RAM.

In either case, whether stored in MCI 1050 or in RAM associated with the EGM, the configuration parameters are accessible by microprocessor 1052. which when programmed with the stored configuration parameters causes EGM 1012 to operate in accordance with the parameters. As mentioned above, such configuration parameters control the behavior of the electronic gaming machine and may include the paytable that controls the average percent of money that the machines returns to players via jackpots.

Next, a plurality of variables related to play on the gaming machines are monitored. Such variables may include the rate at which the interconnected machines are played. The casino is therefore able to determine whether or not there is a relatively high level of demand for play or a relatively low level, the rate is relatively low. The casino's income, of course. increases with the rate of play.

Another variable comprises the time that the interconnected machines are played. The time variable may relate to a specific time of the day, the week, or the year. Each of these time periods includes portions in which play typically occurs at a high rate, evenings, Friday and Saturday nights, and three day weekends. and other portions in which play typically occurs at a low rate. The time variable may also relate to the length of time a particular configuration parameter has been implemented.

Still another such variable comprises the status of a player of one of the machines. The status of the player may comprise whether the player is recognized by a player-tracking system operated on the network. In the present embodiment of the invention this feature is implemented with player-tracking card 1 066 and card reader 1060. Another aspect of the player status relates to the level of player play. One aspect of the level of player play includes the rate of play both the current rate as well as the rate over a selected time period.

Next, a predetermined criterion is established for one of the monitored variables.

For example, in connection with the player status, the predetermined criterion may comprise a predetermined level of player play. establishing a predetermined rate of player play. Another predetermined criterion relates to the level of money wagered on the entire system shown in FIG. 35, which is calculated by accounting system 1038. This criterion could comprise the rate of money wagered on the entire system, as opposed to the criterion set forth above relating to the rate at which a single player wagers.

Another predetermined criterion may relate to the time. As noted above this could be the time that a particular configuration parameter has been implemented or could relate to the time of a day. week, or year.

After the predetermined criterion for one of the monitored variables is established, play is permitted to occur at the machines. When the monitored variable meets the criterion, one or more of the machines, or all, in FIG. 35 is selected, and a computer command is issued. In response to the computer command, a configuration parameter of the selected machine or machines is changed responsive to a command over the network.

Attention is now directed to FIG. 37 wherein indicated generally at 1068 is flow chart of a computer program implementing a portion of a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Computer program 1068 is implemented in software installed on configuration workstation 1040 in FIG. 35. First, a criterion is established in box 1070. As discussed above, the criterion may relate to the rate at which the interconnected machines are played, the time the interconnected machines are played, or the status of a player of one of the machines. Next, a first configuration parameter is implemented in box 1072. As discussed above, configuration parameters are implemented by installing a PROM provided by the EGM manufacturer, by generating inputs to the EGM when placed in the configuration mode, or by downloading configuration data delivered over the network of FIG. 35 to the EGM, or by a combination of the foregoing. Typically there is an initial configuration implemented via PROM or placing the EGM into a configuration mode. Implementation of initial configuration parameters, however, may be accomplished in any manner in accordance with the present invention.

In box 1074, variables such as rate at which the machines are played, time that the machines are played, and the status of players, are monitored using the network of FIG. 35. In step 1076 the program compares the monitored variables with the criterion established in block 1070. If it is not met, the program maintains the first configuration parameter implemented in step 1072 and continues to monitor variables in 1074.

When step 1076 determines that the criterion is met, a second configuration parameter is implemented in box 1078. Thereafter the program monitors system variables in box 1074 and so long as the criterion is met, maintains implementation of the second configuration parameter. When and if the criterion is not met, step 1076 directs that the first configuration parameter be again implemented in box 1072 with continued monitoring and comparison as before.

Considering now FIGS. 38 and 39, additional description will be made of examples of configuring electronic gaming machines in accordance with the present invention in which the predetermined criterion comprises the time that the interconnected machines are played and the changed configuration parameter comprises payback percentage.

-77- In a first example, illustrated schematically in FIG. 38. the time that the interconnected machines are played relates to the time of an exemplary week.

A time line 1080 is bisected by long vertical lines, like lines 1082, 1084, which define a single 24 hour day. Each day of the week beginning with Monday and ending with Sunday, is identified on the time line. Each day is bisected by three short vertical lines, like line 1086, that are equally spaced between long lines, like lines 1082, 1084. The distance from one short line to the next adjacent line therefore represents a 6 hour period. In the portion of time line 1080 representing Monday, the short line corresponding to 6:00 pm is identified with a 1, as are the portions of the time line representing Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the portion of the time line representing Tuesday, the time corresponding to 2:00 am is designated with a 2. This is also the case for Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday similarly include times corresponding to numerals 1 or 2 as depicted.

In the example of FIG. 38, the time period defined between each number 1 and the following number 2 is referred to herein as a first time period. The time period between each number 2 and the following number 1 is referred to herein as a second time period. In this example, play on the machines is typically at a high level during the first time period and typically at a low level during the second time period. During the hours of the day, especially weekdays between around breakfast and midafternoon, play in some casinos is typically at a lower level than in the evening beginning around 6:00 pm. Similarly, play on the weekends during the day is at higher level than during weekdays.

The hours of the day defining the first and second periods in FIG. 38 are entered into configuration workstation 1040. A computer command is issued at the start of each period. In response to the command, a payback percentage for one, or more, of the EGMs is implemented. In accordance with the present invention, this payback percentage may be implemented by delivering over the network to each affected machine a code that is stored in a memory associated with the machine and that changes the pay table of the machine. Because some jurisdictions would not permit changing the pay table on the machine, there is an alternative way to change the payback percentage to a selected machine or machines.

Using the alternative way, the network tracks the amount ot money played on a selected gaming machine or machines that will have different payback percentages implemented. Responsive to the first command, a predetermined percentage ot the money played on the selected machines is allocated to a bonus pool that is also tracked by the network. A bonus period is also initiated responsive to the first command. During the first period a bonus is paid to the machine or machines on which the first payback percentage is implemented.

Such a bonus may be randomly awarded to one of these machines or may comprise an additional payment each time an EGM jackpot is paid in accordance with the first table. Such bonuses and the manner of implementing are described in the first embodiment. After play occurs on the machines, a second computer command is issued at the start of the second period. The second payback percentage for the selected machine or machines is implemented responsive to the second command. In this example, implementation of the second period is equivalent to turning the bonus off, i.e., money is no longer allocated to a bonus period during the second period and bonuses are not paid from the pool.

It can be seen that multiple criteria can be monitored. For example, at all times it might be desirable to provide a higher payback percentage to a player who uses a player-tracking card issued to him or her by the casino. For example, the bonus pool could always be accruing, and paying bonuses to each player using a valid player's card. Such a player would be eligible for still a higher level of bonus, additional percentage would accrue from all amounts wagered during the first period on the time line. Multiple and overlapping bonus pools could therefore be simultaneously accruing a percentage of wagers. and awarding -79 bonuses from such pools, depending upon the rate of machine play, players status, and the time the interconnected machines are played.

Turning now to FIG. 39, a second time line defines a year. With certain holidays, for example Memorial Day and Labor Day, play is typically high at all times throughout the three day weekend, with each day being represented by a vertical line in FIG. 39. The appropriate computer in FIG. 35 is therefore programmed to either override or alter the amount of the payback percentage change in the first and second periods of FIG. 38 during those weekends. In the example of FIG. 39, the period between December 25th and December 31st is traditionally a very slow time in some casinos so that the payback percentage could be correspondingly altered by either changing the amounts that would normally occur as a result of the parameters in FIG. 38 or substituting a different single one or multiple parameters for that period. It is to be appreciated that multiple variables may be monitored and multiple configuration parameters may be changed in response to the monitored variables.

Another configuration parameter comprises game speed. With respect to an electronic slot machine, the game speed is the time it takes from start of reel rotation until the reels stop spinning. With respect to electronic poker, the time relates to how fast the cards are "dealt," how rapidly they appear on the video monitor display. As discussed above, game speed, along with payback percentage and accrual of wagers in a bonus pool influence the net cost to the player per unit time for playing the casino games. Game speed is therefore one of the configuration parameters that may be changed in response to commands issued over the computer network in response to a predetermined criterion for one of the monitored variables. As with each of the other configurable parameters, an appropriate code input to the EGM serial port 1054, delivered over the network and MCI 1050, is used to change the game speed of the selected EGM.

80 Consideration will now be given to the operation of EGM 1012 in stand-alone mode, without being connected to a network via connection 1022. Initial configuration parameters are implemented as described above, either via installing PROM, by casino configuration, or by a combination of the two. In this embodiment, the RAM in MCI 1050 is programmed to monitor variables related to play on the gaming machine, such as coin in, coin out, player status, time that machine is played, etc. The MCI also allocates a predetermined percentage of the money played on the gaming machine to a bonus pool. A predetermined criterion for one of the variables is stored in the MCI RAM. The MCI compares the monitored variable to the criterion and initiates a bonus period when the criterion is met. During the bonus period, the machine pays both from the pay table and from the bonus pool based on bonus rules that are stored in the MCI and implemented via communication with EGM processor 1052. The bonus rules could provide for numerous types of payments via the EGM. The bonus could pay, for example, a specified amount from the pool in response to certain winning, or nonwinning, reel combinations. It could pay a multiple of any jackpot awarded by the EGM, or it could pay on a random basis. Numerous other rules could be established for paying from the bonus pool during a bonus period. As described above in connection with the networked implementation of the invention, this raises the payback percentage to a player of the gaming machine.

Having illustrated and described the principles of the invention in a preferred embodiment thereof, it should be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that the invention can be modified in arrangement and detail without departing from such principles. Modifications and variations such as would be apparent to a skilled addressee are deemed to be within the scope of the present invention.

For example, although an Ethernet network was described in the preferred embodiment of the invention, other high-speed networks such as wireless networks could be used in place thereof.

Throughout this specification, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising", will be understood -81to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or group of integers but not the exclusion of any other integer or group of integers.

Claims (1)

19. J 1 2%006 1 2 1 No. 1125 P. 8 The claims defining the invention are as follows: SZ 1. A method of operating electronic gaming machines interconnected by a computer network to a host computer comprising: permitting play to occur at the machines; operating a player-tracking system on the network; 00 monitoring the level of play of a tracked player on multiple gaming machines; o transmitting data relating to the monitored level over the network; 0 storing the data on a computer connected to the network; selecting a machine being played by the player; determining a bonus based at least in part on the stored data; and paying the bonus to the player via the selected machine. 2. The method of claim 1 wherein said method further comprises issuing a computer command from the host computer. 3. The method of claim 1 or 2, wherein paying the bonus to the player via the selected machine comprises paying the bonus to the player via the selected machine responsive to the computer command. 4. The method of any one of claims I to 3, wherein said method further comprises implementing a pay table in each machine and wherein said bonus is independent of any payment to the player resulting from the pay table. A method of operating electronic gaming machines interconnected by a computer network to a host computer substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings. 6. A method of operating electronic gaming machines interconnected by a computer network to a host computer according to any one of claims 1 to 4 and substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings. Dated this Eighteenth day of July 2006. Acres Gaming, Inc. Applicant Wray Associates Perth, Western Australia Patent Attorneys for the Applicant 82 COMS ID No: SBMI-04205417 Received by P1 Australia: lime 12:25 Date 2006-07-19
AU2003200581A 1994-10-12 2003-02-14 Method and Apparatus for Controlling the Cost of Playing an Electronic Gaming Device Expired AU2003200581B2 (en)

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AU32346/99A AU754444B2 (en) 1994-10-12 1999-05-31 Method and apparatus for controlling the cost of playing an electronic gaming device
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