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Pulltab/bingo controller

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Publication number
US20060046827A1
US20060046827A1 US10925727 US92572704A US2006046827A1 US 20060046827 A1 US20060046827 A1 US 20060046827A1 US 10925727 US10925727 US 10925727 US 92572704 A US92572704 A US 92572704A US 2006046827 A1 US2006046827 A1 US 2006046827A1
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Prior art keywords
gaming
game
machine
ticket
player
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US10925727
Inventor
Ali Saffari
Bryan Wolf
Clyde Ikehara
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IGT Inc
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IGT Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes
    • G07F17/3248Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes involving non-monetary media of fixed value, e.g. casino chips of fixed value
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes
    • G07F17/3258Cumulative reward schemes, e.g. jackpots

Abstract

The present invention provides a gaming network device that maintains pools of game determinations and provides ticket authorization and validation services. In some embodiments of the invention, the network device electronically distributes the game determinations to gaming machines. In other embodiments, the network device prints tickets, or authorizes the printing of tickets, that indicate game determinations and the tickets are input to gaming machines to display corresponding game outcomes. Preferably, the network device also determines whether to approve cashout requests. In some embodiments, the network device may be implemented in a gaming machine or a cashout kiosk.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    This invention relates to game playing methods for gaming machines. More particularly, the present invention relates to methods and apparatus for providing Class II games, such as pulltab games, lottery games and bingo games, on a gaming machine.
  • [0002]
    Playing games of chance on gaming machines, such as slot machines and video poker machines, has proven to be a very popular form of entertainment. After game play has been initiated, the gaming machine indicates a game outcome, presents the game outcome to the player and may dispense an award of some type depending on the outcome of the game. A game outcome presentation may utilize many different visual and audio components such as flashing lights, music, sounds and graphics. The visual and audio components of the game outcome presentation may be used to draw a player's attention to various game features and to heighten the player's interest in additional game play.
  • [0003]
    A traditional pulltab game includes scratch-off and peel-off types of gaming involving a card that has an outcome printed on it. The game consists of displaying the outcome. A pulltab game has a finite number of outcomes (a “pool”), all at the same price, predetermined to attain an established payout (e.g., 3 $1000 winners, 5 $500 winners and 10 $100 winners). The outcome is fixed and does not depend on any action by the player. Pulltab games are, in principle, similar to lottery games. Therefore, as used herein, the terms “pulltab,” “pulltab game,” etc., will include lottery games.
  • [0004]
    Electronic Class II games, such as bingo and pulltab games, may be played in connection with a gaming machine. Electronic pulltab games are centrally determined. An electronic pulltab system involves a pool of game determinations, stored in the memory of a central server, which may be under the control of a gaming authority. A gaming terminal asks for one of those game determinations and the central system sends it. The gaming terminal displays a game outcome corresponding to the game determination, typically simulating game play (spinning reels and/or wheels, poker cards drawn, etc.), in order to create excitement and maintain the player's interest. Thus, the game determination is “used” and is marked as unavailable/deleted. The next time someone plays the game, he or she gets a game determination from a smaller set of possible game determinations.
  • [0005]
    However, there are certain legal requirements for playing Class II games on gaming machines and these requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, some jurisdictions may require that a game determination be recorded on a portable physical medium, such as a ticket, for input to the gaming machine and/or that a cashout ticket indicate a game outcome (e.g., a representation of a poker hand) in human-readable form. In Iowa, for example, there is a requirement that there be a physical cashout ticket for a pulltab game. If a player desires to play an electronic pulltab game in Iowa, the player must normally buy a ticket at counter/kiosk, take it to a gaming machine and put it in a ticket reader of the gaming machine to allow the gaming machine to simulate playing a game according to the outcome specified on the ticket. One drawback is the potential for a ticket to be damaged or lost before the player may play it. There is no way to recreate the ticket for the player. Another drawback is the possibly of a player attempting to forge a winning ticket. This is usually addressed with by adding special printing techniques to encode secure information on the tickets, but these techniques raise the cost of printing the ticket.
  • [0006]
    There are also hardware requirements for implementing Class II games on gaming machines, particularly for implementing automated cashless “ticket in, ticket out” (“TITO”) systems. In addition to the gaming machines themselves, automated cashless TITO systems would require separate ticket printing kiosks, cashout kiosks, clerk validation terminals and a pulltab/bingo central controller. Such systems are new to Class II gaming and are not fully integrated with, e.g., pulltab gaming systems. TITO systems would be desirable for small and large gaming establishments. For smaller gaming establishments (i.e., those having a relatively small number of gaming machines as compared to a typical casino), automated cashless TITO systems would be particularly advantageous because of the time saved for, e.g., a convenience store operator to perform other tasks. However, prior art devices for implementing such systems would represent a significant monetary investment. Therefore, smaller gaming establishments may not have enough gaming machines to offset the cost of prior art systems. It would be desirable to provide more efficient methods and devices for Class II gaming on gaming machines, particularly with respect to TITO systems.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    The present invention provides a gaming network device that maintains pools of game determinations and provides ticket authorization and validation services. In some embodiments of the invention, the network device electronically distributes the game determinations to gaming machines. In other embodiments, the network device prints tickets, or authorizes the printing of tickets, that indicate game determinations and the tickets are input to gaming machines to display corresponding game outcomes. Preferably, the network device also determines whether to approve cashout requests. In some embodiments, the network device may be implemented in a gaming machine or a cashout kiosk.
  • [0008]
    Some embodiments of the invention provide a network device. The network device is configured to perform the following tasks: maintain a pool of game determinations from a game server, each game determination corresponding to a game outcome for a Class II game of chance; distribute game determinations from the pool; receive cash out requests corresponding to game outcomes; and determine whether the cash out requests are valid. The pool of game determinations may be stored in a storage device. One or more logic devices control the maintenance and distribution of game determinations, as well as determining whether the cash out requests are valid.
  • [0009]
    The network device may be configured to transmit game determinations to a gaming machine. The network device may cause a ticket to be printed, indicating a first game determination and/or a first game outcome. The ticket may indicate at least one of a second game outcome and a second game determination. The ticket may indicate the first game outcome in human-readable form. The ticket may include instructions for causing a gaming machine to display a game outcome.
  • [0010]
    The logic device(s) may also determine whether the pool has been depleted to a threshold level; and obtain additional game determinations, as needed, from the game server. In some implementations, the network device can simulate a game of chance corresponding to a game determination.
  • [0011]
    The network device may store first information regarding the game outcomes and compare second information in the cash out requests with the first information. The network device may include a dispenser for dispensing cash for valid cash out requests.
  • [0012]
    Some implementations of the invention provide a gaming network, including a clerk validation terminal and a gaming machine. The clerk validation terminal is configured to maintain a pool of game determinations from a game server, each game determination corresponding to a game outcome; distribute game determinations from the pool; receive cash out requests corresponding to game outcomes; and determine whether the cash out requests are valid. The game outcomes may be distributed in tangible forms (e.g., on tickets or other physical media) or electronic forms (e.g., via a network or via portable memory devices). The gaming machine receives game determinations and simulates games of chance corresponding to the game determinations. The gaming machine may receive the gaming determinations in tangible form, e.g., via a ticket reader such as a bill validator, or in electronic form, e.g., via a port, a scanner, an RFID reader, etc.
  • [0013]
    Alternative aspects of the invention provide a gaming method. The gaming method includes the following steps: maintaining a local pool of game determinations in a network device of a gaming establishment; communicating with a local network device to obtain a game determination; issuing a game ticket that includes the game determination to a player in the gaming establishment; displaying a game outcome corresponding to the game determination; and printing a cash out ticket indicating the game outcome. The game ticket may be valid for a plurality of games. The cash out ticket may indicate a plurality of game outcomes.
  • [0014]
    The game determination may be indicated by an RNG seed. The method may include the step of providing the player an opportunity to win a bonus and/or a progressive jackpot. The method may involve validating the cash out ticket, e.g., by the local network device. In some implementations, a winning cash out ticket may be used to play additional games.
  • [0015]
    These and other features and advantages of the invention will be described in more detail below with reference to the associated drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0016]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a number of gaming machines with player tracking units connected to servers providing player tracking services.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 2A is a flow chart that outlines some methods of the present invention.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 2B is a flow chart that outlines other methods of the present invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 3 is a gaming machine that may be used to implement some aspects of the invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 4A illustrates one embodiment of a game ticket that may be used to implement some aspects of the present invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 4B illustrates one embodiment of a cashout ticket that may be used to implement some aspects of the present invention.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a network device that may be configured to implement some aspects of the invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0023]
    Reference will now be made in detail to some specific embodiments of the invention including the best modes contemplated by the inventors for carrying out the invention. Examples of these specific embodiments are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. While the invention is described in conjunction with these specific embodiments, it will be understood that it is not intended to limit the invention to the described embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended to cover alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Moreover, numerous specific details are set forth below in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. The present invention may be practiced without some or all of these specific details. In other instances, well known process operations have not been described in detail in order not to obscure the present invention.
  • [0024]
    Although the present invention may be manifested in a variety of ways, some implementations of the present invention provide a single device for maintaining a pool of game determinations and providing validation services. Some such devices provide additional functionality, such as game play and/or cashout services. Accordingly, devices of the present invention allow gaming networks to be implemented with fewer devices.
  • [0025]
    In some such embodiments of the present invention, a single network device provides the functionality of a clerk validation terminal (“CVT”) and also maintains a local pool of game determinations in its memory. A request may be submitted to the CVT for a valid game determination and, if the request is approved, the CVT issues a game determination. In some implementations, the game determination is transmitted to a gaming machine in electronic form. In other implementations, the game determination is recorded on a ticket or other portable physical medium. For example, a ticket printer may be attached to the CVT or elsewhere, e.g., at a kiosk. A player may take the portable physical medium to gaming machine, which “plays the game” and reveals a game outcome corresponding to the game determination indicated on the portable physical medium. Some such embodiments provide a single machine for maintaining a pool of downloaded game determinations, issuing tickets and dispensing cash for win amounts.
  • [0026]
    In some implementations, a gaming machine prints and issues a pulltab ticket to a player. The gaming machine communicates with a local network device, e.g., a CVT, obtains a game determination and prints a ticket. In some implementations, the game determinations are transmitted as RNG (random number generating) seeds, each of which will provide a known outcome when processed by a pre-programmed “deterministic RNG.” The deterministic RNG may be implemented, for example, by a logic device of the gaming machine. The RNG seeds are advantageous for security purposes. Moreover, they are easy to implement because most existing gaming machines use an RNG. Replacing this with a deterministic RNG allows central determination games to be implemented with minimal changes to existing Class III machines. U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,664, entitled “Gaming System with Individualized Centrally Generated Random Number Generator Seeds,” describes the use of RNG seeds and is hereby incorporated by reference for all purposes.
  • [0027]
    The ticket is then used by the player to cause the gaming machine to display a game outcome corresponding to the game determination and to print a cashout ticket. As used herein, the term “cashout ticket” includes both winning tickets having cash (or other) value and losing tickets for which there is no cash value, bonus award, etc. In some such implementations, pictures and/or symbols on the cashout ticket correspond with the game outcome displayed on the gaming machine (e.g., 3 cherries). The game outcome may be displayed on the gaming machine and/or the cashout ticket in any convenient manner, but is preferably done in a fashion that will increase player interest and excitement. Accordingly, any such display currently used or known that can be implemented for Class III gaming may be used to display the game outcome on the gaming machine. According to some embodiments, the gaming machine is part of a gaming network configured to provide a bonusing system and/or a progressive jackpot. In some such embodiments, the cashout ticket is validated by the same local network device (e.g., a CVT) from which a game determination was obtained.
  • [0028]
    In some implementations of the invention, a single game is played for each ticket and a game outcome is displayed on a cashout ticket for each game outcome. In other implementations, a single ticket may be valid for multiple games. Similarly, a single cashout ticket may indicate multiple game outcomes. In some implementations, a winning cashout ticket may be used to play additional games.
  • [0029]
    In other implementations, the local network device sends a game determination selected from a pool to the gaming machine. The gaming machine does not print a ticket, but just plays the pulltab game electronically. For example, a screen of the gaming machine could display a pulltab being removed to reveal a game outcome.
  • [0030]
    In yet other implementations, a gaming machine or a special printing kiosk prints a ticket for a pulltab game, which must be read by a gaming machine to be played. For example, the ticket may contain the game ID and denomination, an RNG seed pulled from the CVT's pool to determine the game outcome and a validation number. These data are also stored in a corresponding record in the CVT and the record is used to validate a voucher/ticket before the game is played. The data printed on the ticket may contain CRC and may be encrypted. The gaming machine decrypts the ticket (if necessary), and determines the outcome. After the game is played, the gaming machine may print a ticket indicating the game outcome.
  • [0031]
    One example of a gaming machine network of a gaming establishment is depicted in FIG. 1. Gaming establishment 101 could be any sort of gaming establishment, such as a casino, a card room, an airport, a store, a race track, etc. However, the methods and devices of the present invention are particularly advantageous for gaming establishments that do not include a large number of gaming machines. In such gaming establishments, combining the functions of, e.g., maintaining a pool of game outcomes and providing validation services may allow such a gaming establishment to operate more profitably.
  • [0032]
    Here, gaming machine 102, and the other gaming machines 130, 132, 134, and 136, include a main cabinet 106 and a top box 104. The main cabinet 106 houses the main gaming elements and can also house peripheral systems, such as those that utilize dedicated gaming networks. The top box 104 may also be used to house these peripheral systems. Gaming machine 102 may also include elements such as a ticket reader, a printer, etc., which will be discussed below.
  • [0033]
    The master gaming controller 108 controls the game play on the gaming machine 102 and receives or sends data to various input/output devices 111 on the gaming machine 102. The master gaming controller 108 may also communicate with a display 110.
  • [0034]
    A particular gaming entity may desire to provide network gaming services that provide some operational advantage. Thus, dedicated networks may connect gaming machines to host servers that track the performance of gaming machines under the control of the entity, such as for accounting management, electronic fund transfers (EFTs), cashless ticketing, such as EZPAy™, marketing management, and data tracking, such as player tracking. Therefore, master gaming controller 108 may also communicate with EFT system 112, EZPay™ system 116 (a proprietary cashless ticketing system of the present assignee), and player tracking system 120. The systems of the gaming machine 102 communicate the data onto the network 122 via a communication board 118.
  • [0035]
    It will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that the present invention could be implemented on a network with more or fewer elements than are depicted in FIG. 1. For example, player tracking system 120 is not a necessary feature of the present invention. However, player tracking programs may help to sustain a game player's interest in additional game play during a visit to a gaming establishment and may entice a player to visit a gaming establishment to partake in various gaming activities. Player tracking programs provide rewards to players that typically correspond to the player's level of patronage (e.g., to the player's playing frequency and/or total amount of game plays at a given casino). Player tracking rewards may be free meals, free lodging and/or free entertainment.
  • [0036]
    Moreover, DCU 124 and translator 125 are not required for all gaming establishments 101. However, due to the sensitive nature of much of the information on a gaming network (e.g., electronic fund transfers and player tracking data) the manufacturer of a host system usually employs a particular networking language having proprietary protocols. For instance, 10-20 different companies produce player tracking host systems where each host system may use different protocols. These proprietary protocols are usually considered highly confidential and not released publicly.
  • [0037]
    Further, in the gaming industry, gaming machines are made by many different manufacturers. The communication protocols on the gaming machine are typically hard-wired into the gaming machine and each gaming machine manufacturer may utilize a different proprietary communication protocol. A gaming machine manufacturer may also produce host systems, in which case their gaming machines are compatible with their own host systems. However, in a heterogeneous gaming environment, gaming machines from different manufacturers, each with its own communication protocol, may be connected to host systems from other. manufacturers, each with another communication protocol. Therefore, communication compatibility issues regarding the protocols used by the gaming machines in the system and protocols used by the host systems must be considered.
  • [0038]
    In the present illustration, the gaming machines, 102, 130, 132, 134, and 136 are connected to a dedicated gaming network 122. In general, the DCU 124 functions as an intermediary between the different gaming machines on the network 122 and the CVT 142. In general, the DCU 124 receives data transmitted from the gaming machines and sends the data to the CVT 142 over a transmission path 126. In some instances, when the hardware interface used by the gaming machine is not compatible with CVT 142, a translator 125 may be used to convert serial data from the DCU 124 to a format accepted by CVT 142. The translator may provide this conversion service to a plurality of DCUs.
  • [0039]
    Further, in some dedicated gaming networks, the DCU 124 can receive data transmitted from CVT 142 for communication to the gaming machines on the gaming network. The received data may be, for example, communicated synchronously to the gaming machines on the gaming network.
  • [0040]
    Here, CVT 142 provides cashless and cashout gaming services to the gaming machines in gaming establishment 101. Broadly speaking, CVT 142 authorizes and validates portable physical media that indicate game determinations and/or game outcomes (also referred to herein as “tickets” or “vouchers”), including but not limited to tickets for causing a gaming machine to display a game result and cashout tickets. Moreover, CVT 142 authorizes the exchange of a cashout ticket for cash. These processes will be described in detail below. In one example, when a player attempts to redeem a cashout ticket for cash at cashout kiosk 144, cashout kiosk 144 reads validation data from the cashout ticket and transmits the validation data to CVT 142 for validation. The tickets may be printed by gaming machines, by cashout kiosk 144, by a printing kiosk, by CVT 142, etc.
  • [0041]
    However, the cashout information and validation data may be recorded on physical media other than tickets, such as smart cards, player tracking cards, RFID cards, portable memory devices, personal digital assistants, etc. Co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. 10/214,936, filed Aug. 2, 2002 and entitled “Flexible Loyalty Points Programs,” describes relevant portable physical media and readers and is hereby incorporated by reference for all purposes. In some implementations, the cashout information and validation data are not recorded on tickets or similar physical media, but are merely stored in electronic form.
  • [0042]
    Some gaming establishments will not have a separate cashout kiosk 144. Instead, a cashout ticket could be redeemed for cash by a cashier (e.g. of a convenience store), by a gaming machine or by a specially configured CVT. Such implementations are described in more detail below.
  • [0043]
    A network device that links a gaming establishment with another gaming establishment and/or a central system will sometimes be referred to herein as a “site controller.” Here, CVT 142 is a site controller for gaming establishment 101. CVT is connected to a central system and/or other gaming establishments via one or more networks, which may be public or private networks. Among other things, CVT 142 communicates with a game server to obtain and maintain a pool of game outcomes. The details of this process will be described below with reference to FIG. 2B.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 2A outlines method 200 of the present invention. In step 201, a request for a game determination is received. Each of the game determinations corresponds to a game outcome. In this example, the request is received by a network device such as CVT 142. The request may originate from a gaming machine, from a ticket kiosk, (which may also be a cashout kiosk), etc. In one example, the request comes from a gaming machine in response to a player's input of cash, a cashless gaming instrument, etc. The request is preferably authenticated to ensure that it comes from a reliable source. In some implementations, a request for multiple game determinations may be received from the same source.
  • [0045]
    If the request is accepted, a game determination is issued (step 210), preferably in encrypted form, and the pool of game determinations is decremented. In some preferred embodiments, the game determination takes the form of a random number generator (“RNG”) seed, e.g., such as the RNG seeds described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,664, entitled “Gaming System with Individualized Centrally Generated Random Number Generator Seeds,” which is incorporated herein by reference. Each of the RNG seeds has been pre-calculated to produce a predetermined outcome when processed by a pre-programmed “deterministic RNG.” The RNG seeds are advantageous for security purposes. Moreover, they are easy to implement because existing gaming machines use an RNG. Replacing this with a deterministic RNG allows central determination games to be implemented with minimal changes to existing machines.
  • [0046]
    Using RNG seeds is generally more efficient than using a table of numbers/desired outcomes/desired displays. However, in other embodiments, the game determination is in the form of a number, a combination of symbols, etc., each of which corresponds to a game outcome. In some implementations, when a request for multiple game determinations has been received from the same source, multiple game determinations will be issued to the source if the request is accepted.
  • [0047]
    In some embodiments, step 210 involves transmitting a game determination in electronic form to a gaming machine, e.g., across a network such as that depicted in FIG. 1. In other embodiments, the game determination will be recorded on a portable physical medium such as a ticket (paper, rewriteable, etc.), a smart card, a personal digital assistant, etc. (Step 215) The portable physical medium may also have cashout value and may be read by a gaming machine for credits. An exemplary game ticket will be described below with reference to FIG. 4A.
  • [0048]
    In some embodiments, the portable physical medium is a player tracking card. A player can, for example, input player identification information and purchase one or more game determinations (e.g., with cash or a cashless instrument). The game determinations can be written on a player tracking card, which could be taken to a gaming machine for display of the game outcomes. Alternatively, a player could purchase the game(s) at the same gaming machine used to display the game outcome(s). Game determinations and/or outcomes could be written to the player tracking card, written on another type of portable physical medium (such as a ticket) or could be associated with the player tracking account but not written on a portable physical medium.
  • [0049]
    In this example, it is then determined whether the pool of game determinations has been depleted below a threshold level (step 220). If so, the pool is replenished (step 225). One exemplary replenishment process is described below with reference to FIG. 2B. It will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that the determination of whether the pool of game determinations has been depleted below a threshold level could take place at another stage in method 200 or in a separate process. Moreover, the determination of whether the pool of game determinations has been depleted below a threshold level can take place in response to a predetermined event, e.g., after a certain number of game determinations have been issued, recorded, or have been presented on a gaming machine.
  • [0050]
    In step 230, the game determination is input to a gaming machine. For example, if the game determination is recorded on a portable physical medium, the portable physical medium is read by a device associated with the gaming machine (e.g., a bill validator, a scanner, a radio frequency identification (“RFID”) reader or a similar device). If the gaming machine receives the game determination in electronic form, the game determination is input from the network used to transmit the game determination.
  • [0051]
    In step 240, the gaming machine displays a game outcome that corresponds with the game determination. For example, the gaming machine may display real or simulated spinning reels of numbers, images and/or symbols, a hand of poker, etc. In preferred implementations, the game outcome will be recognizable by the player as a positive or negative outcome. For example, if the player wins, a winning hand of poker, a winning combination of symbols, etc., may be displayed on the gaming machine.
  • [0052]
    In some implementations, the game outcome will be recorded on a second portable physical medium, e.g., on a cashout ticket or a ticket that may be used to play another game (step 245). Such implementations are particularly useful for “cashless” systems involving, e.g., gaming machines without cash intake and/or cash dispensing features. For example, the gaming machine may dispense a cashout ticket with the game outcome indicated thereon (e.g., 3 cherries). Some implementations of the invention allow multiple game outcomes to be recorded on a single portable physical medium.
  • [0053]
    In one embodiment, when a cashout ticket is printed, a device (e.g., the gaming machine) communicates with the CVT, indicates the value of the cashout ticket and requests a validation number, which is indicated on the cashout ticket. The CVT may record the validation number, ticket ID, amount, etc. (e.g., player ID and/or a graphic representation of the game outcome) in a database. An exemplary cashout ticket will be described below with reference to FIG. 4B. In alternative embodiments, the gaming machine will force the player to cash out immediately. For example, the gaming machine will immediately dispense cash, tokens, etc., if a game outcome is positive.
  • [0054]
    Step 255 involves a determination as to whether a cashout ticket is valid. In some implementations, this determination is made by a CVT. For example, the player may insert a cashout ticket into a cashout kiosk, which reads validation information on the cashout ticket and transmits the validation information to the CVT. If the cashout ticket is valid, the player can be issued cash in exchange for the cashout ticket, e.g., at the cash-out kiosk. In alternative embodiments, a cash-out kiosk includes the functionality of a CVT.
  • [0055]
    If the cashout ticket is invalid, the process ends in this example (step 265). In alternative implementations, the CVT or another device sends an indication that the cashout ticket is invalid, e.g., to the cashout kiosk and/or to a person in charge of the gaming establishment.
  • [0056]
    FIG. 2B illustrates one exemplary method 222 of replenishing a pool of game determinations. In this example, a CVT/site controller is maintaining the pool of game determinations. Therefore, in step 270, the CVT contacts a central pool server that maintains a pool of game determinations. In some jurisdictions, the pool server may be under the control of, e.g., an administrative branch of the state government that is responsible for pulltab gaming. In this example, the CVT establishes a network connection (e.g. a PSTN connection or an Internet connection) with the pool server, identifies itself submits a request for a download of game determinations (step 272), and terminates the Internet connection (step 275). The pool server establishes a second network connection with the CVT (step 277) and then attempts to verify the identity of the CVT (step 280), e.g., by comparing an expected identity of the CVT with information exchanged when the second network connection is established. Preferably, the pool server keeps a list of registered CVTs, along with their ID and dialup number, IP address, etc. By using method 222, the pool server can verify that an expected CVT is at an expected location and reduce the chance of sending pool information to a rogue CVT.
  • [0057]
    If the CVT is verified, the pool server downloads game determinations to the CVT (step 282). The pool server will download a requested number of game determinations to the CVT if enough are available. If the CVT is not verified, the pool server may make one or more additional attempts to contact and verify the CVT.
  • [0058]
    In one example described with reference to FIG. 2A, method 222 could be performed when there is a pending request for a game determination to be issued from a network device such as a site controller, a CVT, etc. If there is such a pending request, the process may continue to step 215 of method 200. If not, method 222 ends (step 287).
  • [0059]
    Turning to FIG. 3, more details of one embodiment of gaming machine 102 will now be described. Machine 102 includes a main cabinet 4, which generally surrounds the machine interior (not shown) and is viewable by users. The main cabinet 4 includes a main door 8 on the front of the machine, which opens to provide access to the interior of the machine. Attached to the main door are player-input switches or buttons 32, a coin acceptor 28, and a bill validator 30, a coin tray 38, and a belly glass 40.
  • [0060]
    Alternative embodiments of gaming machine 102 are configured for cashless operation. Such gaming machines have no coin acceptor, coin tray 38, coin hopper, etc. However, such gaming machines may still use a bill validator 30. For example, such gaming machines may accept payment instruments such as paper currency, cashless gaming instruments, etc., that could be read by bill validator 30 and game tickets, etc., could be read by a different device. In some embodiments, bill validator 30 is configured to accept both payment instruments and/or portable physical media such as game tickets. Alternatively, a gaming machine 102 that is configured for cashless operation may include another type of scanner, RFID reader, etc., for reading cashless gaming instruments and/or portable physical media such as game tickets. Ticket printer 18 may print cashless instruments and/or portable physical media such as game tickets and/or cashout tickets.
  • [0061]
    Cashless gaming machine networks having a ‘ticket in/ticket out’ system need a network device configured to provide validation and cashout services such as those normally provided by a CVT. As noted elsewhere herein, some network devices of the present invention also maintain local pools of game determinations from a pool server. The network device may also be combined with a gaming machine, with a cashout kiosk, etc. Co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/595,798, filed Jun. 16, 2000 and entitled “Using a Gaming Machine As a Server” is hereby incorporated by reference for all purposes.
  • [0062]
    Viewable through the main door is a video display monitor 34 and an information panel 36. The display monitor 34 will typically be a cathode ray tube, high resolution flat-panel LCD, or other conventional electronically controlled video monitor. The information panel 36 may be a back-lit, silk screened glass panel with lettering to indicate general game information including, for example, the number of coins played. The bill validator 30, player-input switches 32, video display monitor 34 and information panel are devices used to play a game (or simulate a game) on the game machine 102. The devices are controlled by circuitry housed inside the main cabinet 4 of the machine 102.
  • [0063]
    The gaming machine 102 includes a top box 6, which sits on top of the main cabinet 4. The top box 6 houses a number of devices, which may be used to add features to a game being played on the gaming machine 102, including speakers 10, 12 and 14.
  • [0064]
    In this embodiment, a player tracking unit mounted within the top box 6 includes a key pad 22 for entering player tracking information, a florescent display 16 for displaying player tracking information, a card reader 24 for entering, e.g., a magnetic striped card containing player tracking information, a microphone 43 for inputting voice data, a speaker 42 for projecting sounds and a light panel 44 for display various light patterns used to convey gaming information. In other embodiments, a player tracking unit and associated player tracking interface devices, such as 16, 22, 24, 42, 43 and 44, may be mounted within the main cabinet 4 of the gaming machine, on top of the gaming machine, or on the side of the main cabinet of the gaming machine. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/246,373, entitled “Player Tracking Communication Mechanisms In A Gaming Machine,” is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • [0065]
    Prior to beginning a game play session on the gaming machine 2, a player may insert a player tracking card into the card reader 24 to initiate a player tracking session. In some embodiments, after inserting the card, the player may be visually prompted on the display screen 16 or aurally prompted using the speaker to enter identification information such as a PIN code using the key pad 22. Typically, the player tracking card may remain in the card reader 24 during the game play session. As described in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/214,936, filed Aug. 6, 2002 and entitled “Flexible Loyalty Points Programs,” various other types of player tracking cards, devices and readers may be used. (application Ser. No. 10/214,936 has been incorporated by reference for all purposes.) Moreover, other identification information (e.g., biometric information) may be captured, as noted therein.
  • [0066]
    In a player tracking session on the gaming machine, features of the player's game play during a game play session on the gaming machine, such as an amount wagered during the game play session, may be converted to player tracking points and stored in the player's player tracking account on a player tracking server. Later, accumulated player tracking points may be redeemed for rewards or “comps” for the player such as free meals or free rooms. Many details of player tracking devices and methods not described herein are set forth in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/246,373, entitled “Player Tracking Communication Mechanisms In A Gaming Machine,” which has been incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.
  • [0067]
    Understand that gaming machine 102 is but one example from a wide range of gaming machine designs on which the present invention may be implemented. For example, not all suitable gaming machines have top boxes or player tracking features. Further, some gaming machines have two or more game displays—mechanical and/or video. Moreover, some gaming machines are designed for bar tables and have displays that face upwards.
  • [0068]
    Returning to the embodiment of gaming machine 102 illustrated of FIG. 3, when a user wishes to play the gaming machine 102, he or she could insert cash through the coin acceptor 28 or bill validator 30. In addition, the player may use a cashless instrument of some type to register credits on the gaming machine 102. For example, the bill validator 30 may accept a portable physical medium such as a printed ticket voucher, including 20, as an indicium of credit. The same portable physical medium could cause gaming machine 102 to display a game outcome, as described above. As another example, the card reader 24 may accept a debit card or a smart card containing cash or credit information that may be used to register credits on the gaming machine.
  • [0069]
    During certain game functions and events, the gaming machine 102 may display visual and auditory effects that can be perceived by the player. These effects add to the excitement of a game, which makes a player more likely to continue playing. Auditory effects include various sounds that are projected by the speakers 10, 12, 14. Visual effects include flashing lights, strobing lights or other patterns displayed from lights on the gaming machine 102, from lights behind the belly glass 40 or the light panel on the player tracking unit 44. As noted above, when used for electronic pulltab gaming, gaming machine 102 simulates game play, such as spinning reels, a video display of poker, spinning wheels, etc., according to the outcome indicated on the ticket. The display is merely for entertainment.
  • [0070]
    If a positive game outcome has been displayed, the player may receive cash, game tokens from the coin tray 38 or a portable physical medium (such as a ticket 20 from the printer 18), which may be used for further games or to redeem for cash and/or a prize. Further, the player may receive a ticket 20 for food, merchandise, or games from the printer 18. The type of ticket 20 may be related to past game playing recorded by the player tracking software within the gaming machine 102. In some embodiments, these tickets may be used by a game player to obtain game services.
  • [0071]
    IGT gaming machines are implemented with special features and/or additional circuitry that differentiates them from general-purpose computers (e.g., desktop PC's and laptops). Gaming machines are highly regulated to ensure fairness and, in many cases, gaming machines are operable to dispense monetary awards of multiple millions of dollars. Therefore, to satisfy security and regulatory requirements in a gaming environment, hardware and software architectures may be implemented in gaming machines that differ significantly from those of general-purpose computers. A description of gaming machines relative to general-purpose computing machines and some examples of the additional (or different) components and features found in gaming machines are described below.
  • [0072]
    At first glance, one might think that adapting PC technologies to the gaming industry would be a simple proposition because both PCs and gaming machines employ microprocessors that control a variety of devices. However, because of such reasons as 1) the regulatory requirements that are placed upon gaming machines, 2) the harsh environment in which gaming machines operate, 3) security requirements and 4) fault tolerance requirements, adapting PC technologies to a gaming machine can be quite difficult. Further, techniques and methods for solving a problem in the PC industry, such as device compatibility and connectivity issues, might not be adequate in the gaming environment. For instance, a fault or a weakness tolerated in a PC, such as security holes in software or frequent crashes, may not be tolerated in a gaming machine because in a gaming machine these faults can lead to a direct loss of funds from the gaming machine, such as stolen cash or loss of revenue when the gaming machine is not operating properly.
  • [0073]
    For the purposes of illustration, a few differences between PC systems and gaming systems will be described. A first difference between gaming machines and common PC based computers systems is that gaming machines are designed to be state-based systems. In a state-based system, the system stores and maintains its current state in a non-volatile memory, such that, in the event of a power failure or other malfunction the gaming machine will return to its current state when the power is restored. For instance, if a player was shown an award for a game of chance and, before the award could be provided to the player the power failed, the gaming machine, upon the restoration of power, would return to the state where the award is indicated. As anyone who has used a PC, knows, PCs are not state machines and a majority of data is usually lost when a malfunction occurs. This requirement affects the software and hardware design on a gaming machine.
  • [0074]
    A second important difference between gaming machines and common PC based computer systems is that for regulation purposes, the software on the gaming machine used to generate the game of chance and operate the gaming machine has been designed to be static and monolithic to prevent cheating by the operator of gaming machine. For instance, one solution that has been employed in the gaming industry to prevent cheating and satisfy regulatory requirements has been to manufacture a gaming machine that can use a proprietary processor running instructions to generate the game of chance from an EPROM or other form of non-volatile memory. The coding instructions on the EPROM are static (non-changeable) and must be approved by a gaming regulators in a particular jurisdiction and installed in the presence of a person representing the gaming jurisdiction. Any changes to any part of the software required to generate the game of chance, such as adding a new device driver used by the master gaming controller to operate a device during generation of the game of chance can require a new EPROM to be burnt, approved by the gaming jurisdiction and reinstalled on the gaming machine in the presence of a gaming regulator. Regardless of whether the EPROM solution is used, to gain approval in most gaming jurisdictions, a gaming machine must demonstrate sufficient safeguards that prevent an operator of a gaming machine from manipulating hardware and software in a manner that gives them an unfair and some cases an illegal advantage. The code validation requirements in the gaming industry affect both hardware and software designs on gaming machines.
  • [0075]
    A third important difference between gaming machines and common PC based computer systems is the number and kinds of peripheral devices used on a gaming machine are not as great as on PC based computer systems. Traditionally, in the gaming industry, gaming machines have been relatively simple in the sense that the number of peripheral devices and the number of functions the gaming machine has been limited. Further, in operation, the functionality of gaming machines were relatively constant once the gaming machine was deployed, i.e., new peripherals devices and new gaming software were infrequently added to the gaming machine. This differs from a PC where users will go out and buy different combinations of devices and software from different manufacturers and connect them to a PC to suit their needs depending on a desired application. Therefore, the types of devices connected to a PC may vary greatly from user to user depending in their individual requirements and may vary significantly over time.
  • [0076]
    Although the variety of devices available for a PC may be greater than on a gaming machine, gaming machines still have unique device requirements that differ from a PC, such as device security requirements not usually addressed by PCs. For instance, monetary devices, such as coin dispensers, bill validators and ticket printers and computing devices that are used to govern the input and output of cash to a gaming machine have security requirements that are not typically addressed in PCs. Therefore, many PC techniques and methods developed to facilitate device connectivity and device compatibility do not address the emphasis placed on security in the gaming industry.
  • [0077]
    To address some of the issues described above, a number of hardware/software components and architectures are utilized in gaming machines that are not typically found in general purpose computing devices, such as PCs. These hardware/software components and architectures, as described below in more detail, include but are not limited to watchdog timers, voltage monitoring systems, state-based software architecture and supporting hardware, specialized communication interfaces, security monitoring and trusted memory.
  • [0078]
    A watchdog timer is normally used in IGT gaming machines to provide a software failure detection mechanism. In a normally operating system, the operating software periodically accesses control registers in the watchdog timer subsystem to “re-trigger” the watchdog. Should the operating software fail to access the control registers within a preset timeframe, the watchdog timer will timeout and generate a system reset. Typical watchdog timer circuits contain a loadable timeout counter register to allow the operating software to set the timeout interval within a certain range of time. A differentiating feature of the some preferred circuits is that the operating software cannot completely disable the function of the watchdog timer. In other words, the watchdog timer always functions from the time power is applied to the board.
  • [0079]
    IGT gaming computer platforms preferably use several power supply voltages to operate portions of the computer circuitry. These can be generated in a central power supply or locally on the computer board. If any of these voltages falls out of the tolerance limits of the circuitry they power, unpredictable operation of the computer may result. Though most modern general-purpose computers include voltage monitoring circuitry, these types of circuits only report voltage status to the operating software. Out of tolerance voltages can cause software malfunction, creating a potential uncontrolled condition in the gaming computer. Gaming machines of the present assignee typically have power supplies with tighter voltage margins than that required by the operating circuitry. In addition, the voltage monitoring circuitry implemented in IGT gaming computers typically has two thresholds of control. The first threshold generates a software event that can be detected by the operating software and an error condition generated. This threshold is triggered when a power supply voltage falls out of the tolerance range of the power supply, but is still within the operating range of the circuitry. The second threshold is set when a power supply voltage falls out of the operating tolerance of the circuitry. In this case, the circuitry generates a reset, halting operation of the computer.
  • [0080]
    The standard method of operation for IGT slot machine game software is to use a state machine. Each function of the game (bet, play, result, etc.) is defined as a state. When a game moves from one state to another, critical data regarding the game software is stored in a custom non-volatile memory subsystem. In addition, game history information regarding previous games played, amounts wagered, and so forth also should be stored in a non-volatile memory device. This feature allows the game to recover operation to the current state of play in the event of a malfunction, loss of power, etc. This is critical to ensure the player's wager and credits are preserved. Typically, battery backed RAM devices are used to preserve this critical data. These memory devices are not used in typical general-purpose computers.
  • [0081]
    IGT gaming computers normally contain additional interfaces, including serial interfaces, to connect to specific subsystems internal and external to the slot machine. As noted above, some preferred embodiments of the present invention include parallel, digital interfaces for high-speed data transfer. However, even the serial devices may have electrical interface requirements that differ from the “standard” EIA RS232 serial interfaces provided by general-purpose computers. These interfaces may include EIA RS485, EIA RS422, Fiber Optic Serial, Optically Coupled Serial Interfaces, current loop style serial interfaces, etc. In addition, to conserve serial interfaces internally in the slot machine, serial devices may be connected in a shared, daisy-chain fashion where multiple peripheral devices are connected to a single serial channel.
  • [0082]
    IGT Gaming machines may alternatively be treated as peripheral devices to a casino communication controller and connected in a shared daisy chain fashion to a single serial interface. In both cases, the peripheral devices are preferably assigned device addresses. If so, the serial controller circuitry must implement a method to generate or detect unique device addresses. General-purpose computer serial ports are not able to do this.
  • [0083]
    Security monitoring circuits detect intrusion into an IGT gaming machine by monitoring security switches attached to access doors in the slot machine cabinet. Preferably, access violations result in suspension of game play and can trigger additional security operations to preserve the current state of game play. These circuits also function when power is off by use of a battery backup. In power-off operation, these circuits continue to monitor the access doors of the slot machine. When power is restored, the gaming machine can determine whether any security violations occurred while power was off, e.g., via software for reading status registers. This can trigger event log entries and further data authentication operations by the slot machine software.
  • [0084]
    Trusted memory devices are preferably included in an IGT gaming machine computer to ensure the authenticity of the software that may be stored on less secure memory subsystems, such as mass storage devices. Trusted memory devices and controlling circuitry are typically designed to not allow modification of the code and data stored in the memory device while the memory device is installed in the slot machine. The code and data stored in these devices may include authentication algorithms, random number generators, authentication keys, operating system kernels, etc. The purpose of these trusted memory devices is to provide gaming regulatory authorities a root trusted authority within the computing environment of the slot machine that can be tracked and verified as original. This may be accomplished via removal of the trusted memory device from the slot machine computer and verification of the trusted memory device contents in a separate third party verification device. Once the trusted memory device is verified as authentic, and based on the approval of the verification algorithms contained in the trusted device, the gaming machine is allowed to verify the authenticity of additional code and data that may be located in the gaming computer assembly, such as code and data stored on hard disk drives.
  • [0085]
    Mass storage devices used in a general purpose computer typically allow code and data to be read from and written to the mass storage device. In a gaming machine environment, modification of the gaming code stored on a mass storage device is strictly controlled and would only be allowed under specific maintenance type events with electronic and physical enablers required. Though this level of security could be provided by software, IGT gaming computers that include mass storage devices preferably include hardware level mass storage data protection circuitry that operates at the circuit level to monitor attempts to modify data on the mass storage device and will generate both software and hardware error triggers should a data modification be attempted without the proper electronic and physical enablers being present.
  • [0086]
    The portable physical media used to record game determinations, game outcomes, etc. may be embodied in many different forms. One simple form is a paper or plastic ticket having various types of information recorded (e.g., printed) thereon. FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate specific examples of a game ticket and a cashout ticket, respectively. In one embodiment, the format of the ticket 400 may be generated from a template stored within a printer (e.g., a thermal printer as described above).
  • [0087]
    Examples of parameter values that may be recorded on a portable physical medium include: 1) an establishment 402, a location 404 (e.g. city, state and zip code), 3) a ticket type 406 (e.g. game ticket, cashout ticket, receipt, duplicate, duplicate receipt, etc.), 4) a bar code 408, 5) a ticket validation number 410, 6) an issue date and issue time 412, 7) a ticket number 413, 8) a textual ticket value 414, 9) a numerical ticket value 416, 10) an expiration date 418 and 11) a machine number 420.
  • [0088]
    In this example, bar code 408 includes game determination information, such as an encrypted RNG seed. Here, the ticket was purchased at a kiosk, so machine number 420 indicates an ID number of the kiosk. In addition, preprinted graphics or text, including “INSERT THIS SIDE UP” 411, may be printed on each ticket. Note that validation identifiers other than validation number 410 and/or bar code 408 may be employed.
  • [0089]
    As explained elsewhere in this disclosure, some portable physical media used to record game determinations, game outcomes, etc. may be embodied as an RFID card/object or other transponder device. Such media may be generated by an RFID printer. Alternatively, the portable physical media may be player tracking cards. The pertinent information could be read from and/or written to the player tracking cards, for example, by a player tracking unit of a gaming machine, by a specially configured kiosk, etc.
  • [0090]
    Information such as the ticket value, the ticket issue date, the ticket issue time, the ticket number and the machine ID may be common to cashless systems that generate and validate tickets issued at a single property. In addition, information such as the ticket issue location may be needed to allow multi-site generation and validation of portable physical media. Further, other types of information, besides the information listed above, may be stored on the portable physical media.
  • [0091]
    FIG. 4B illustrates an exemplary cashout ticket that resulted from displaying the game determination information encoded on the game ticket of FIG. 4A. Here, the ticket was printed by a gaming machine, so machine number 420 indicates an ID number of the gaming machine. In this example, game outcome field 407 indicates a positive result, as shown by the 3 star symbols. Here, the 3 star symbols were also displayed by the gaming machine as part of the game outcome display.
  • [0092]
    Alternative embodiments of cashout tickets include multiple game outcome fields 407 corresponding to multiple game outcomes. Cashout tickets indicating multiple game outcomes may include multiple versions of other fields shown in FIG. 4B. For example, such cashout tickets may include multiple verification numbers (e.g., one for each game outcome) or a single verification number for all of the game outcomes.
  • [0093]
    In the example shown in FIG. 4B, a new validation number 410 was requested from a CVT, received by the gaming machine and printed on the ticket. In alternative embodiments, the same validation number may be used for the game ticket and the cashout ticket. As noted above, some implementations do not require a game ticket and/or a cashout ticket.
  • [0094]
    FIG. 5 illustrates an example of a network device that may be configured to implement some methods of the present invention. Network device 560 includes a master central processing unit (CPU) 562, interfaces 568, and a bus 567 (e.g., a PCI bus). Generally, interfaces 568 include ports 569 appropriate for communication with the appropriate media. In some embodiments, one or more of interfaces 568 includes at least one independent processor and, in some instances, volatile RAM. The independent processors may be, for example ASICs or any other appropriate processors. According to some such embodiments, these independent processors perform at least some of the functions of the logic described herein. In some embodiments, one or more of interfaces 568 control such communications-intensive tasks as media control and management. By providing separate processors for the communications-intensive tasks, interfaces 568 allow the master microprocessor 562 efficiently to perform other functions such as routing computations, network diagnostics, security functions, etc.
  • [0095]
    The interfaces 568 are typically provided as interface cards (sometimes referred to as “linecards”). Generally, interfaces 568 control the sending and receiving of data packets over the network and sometimes support other peripherals used with the network device 560. Among the interfaces that may be provided are FC interfaces, Ethernet interfaces, frame relay interfaces, cable interfaces, DSL interfaces, token ring interfaces, and the like. In addition, various very high-speed interfaces may be provided, such as fast Ethernet interfaces, Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, ATM interfaces, HSSI interfaces, POS interfaces, FDDI interfaces, ASI interfaces, DHEI interfaces and the like.
  • [0096]
    When acting under the control of appropriate software or firmware, in some implementations of the invention CPU 562 may be responsible for implementing specific functions associated with the functions of a desired network device. According to some embodiments, CPU 562 accomplishes all these functions under the control of software including an operating system and any appropriate applications software. CPU 562 may include one or more processors 563 such as a processor from the Motorola family of microprocessors or the MIPS family of microprocessors. In an alternative embodiment, processor 563 is specially designed hardware for controlling the operations of network device 560. In a specific embodiment, a memory 561 (such as non-volatile RAM and/or ROM) also forms part of CPU 562. However, there are many different ways in which memory could be coupled to the system. Memory block 561 may be used for a variety of purposes such as, for example, caching and/or storing data, programming instructions, etc.
  • [0097]
    Regardless of network device's configuration, it may employ one or more memories or memory modules (such as, for example, memory block 565) configured to store data, program instructions for the general-purpose network operations and/or other information relating to the functionality of the techniques described herein. The program instructions may control the operation of an operating system and/or one or more applications, for example.
  • [0098]
    Because such information and program instructions may be employed to implement the systems/methods described herein, the present invention relates to machine-readable media that include program instructions, state information, etc. for performing various operations described herein. Examples of machine-readable media include, but are not limited to, magnetic media such as hard disks, floppy disks, and magnetic tape; optical media such as CD-ROM disks; magneto-optical media; and hardware devices that are specially configured to store and perform program instructions, such as read-only memory devices (ROM) and random access memory (RAM). The invention may also be embodied in a carrier wave traveling over an appropriate medium such as airwaves, optical lines, electric lines, etc. Examples of program instructions include both machine code, such as produced by a compiler, and files containing higher level code that may be executed by the computer using an interpreter.
  • [0099]
    Although the system shown in FIG. 5 illustrates one specific network device of the present invention, it is by no means the only network device architecture on which the present invention can be implemented. For example, an architecture having a single processor that handles communications as well as routing computations, etc. is often used. Further, other types of interfaces and media could also be used with the network device. The communication path between interfaces may be bus based (as shown in FIG. 5) or switch fabric based (such as a cross-bar).
  • [0100]
    The above-described devices and materials will be familiar to those of skill in the computer hardware and software arts. Although many of the components and processes are described above in the singular for convenience, it will be appreciated by one of skill in the art that multiple components and repeated processes can also be used to practice the techniques of the present invention. Although the foregoing invention has been described in some detail for purposes of clarity of understanding, it will be apparent that certain changes and modifications may be practice.
  • [0101]
    For example, a gaming machine may refuse to use an RNG seed which the CVT does not validate as one it gave out. The CVT can then record, in the game play records, the status of the RNG seed: e.g., available, issued, played, redeemed. The cash out tickets may then have an indication of the RNG seeds that were used to produce the payouts, thus combining the TITO and Pulltab server functions for greater security. To make the cash out tickets simpler, rather than storing each individual RNG seed, they may store a session ID or player tracking ID, which can be recorded in the game play records (e.g., Record 1238 was played in session 893285 or by player 385723).

Claims (29)

1. A network device, comprising:
means for maintaining a pool of game determinations from a game server, each game determination corresponding to a game outcome for a Class II game of chance;
means for distributing game determinations from the pool;
means for receiving cashout requests corresponding to game outcomes; and
means for determining whether the cashout requests are valid.
2. The network device of claim 1, wherein the distributing means comprises means for transmitting game determinations to a gaming machine.
3. The network device of claim 1, wherein the distributing means comprises means for causing a ticket to be printed, the ticket indicating at least one of a first game determination and a first game outcome.
4. The network device of claim 1, wherein the maintaining means comprises:
means for determining that the pool has been depleted to a threshold level; and
means for obtaining additional game determinations from the game server.
5. The network device of claim 1, further comprising means for simulating a game of chance corresponding to a game determination.
6. The network device of claim 1, wherein the maintaining means comprises means for storing first information regarding the game outcomes, and wherein the determining means comprises means for comparing second information in the cashout requests with the first information.
7. The network device of claim 1, further comprising means for dispensing cash for valid cashout requests.
8. The network device of claim 3, wherein the ticket indicates at least one of a second game outcome and a second game determination.
9. The network device of claim 3, wherein the ticket indicates the first game outcome in human-readable form.
10. The network device of claim 3, wherein the ticket causes a gaming machine to display a game outcome.
11. A gaming network, comprising:
a clerk validation terminal, comprising:
means for maintaining a pool of game determinations from a game server, each game determination corresponding to a game outcome;
means for distributing game determinations from the pool;
means for receiving cashout requests corresponding to game outcomes; and
means for determining whether the cashout requests are valid; and
a gaming machine, comprising:
means for receiving game determinations; and
means for simulating a game of chance corresponding to a game determination.
12. The network of claim 10, further comprising means for recording game outcomes on a portable physical medium.
13. The network of claim 10, wherein the receiving means comprises a ticket reader.
14. The network of claim 10, wherein the receiving means comprises a port for receiving game determinations in electronic form.
15. The network of claim 12, wherein the portable physical medium comprises a rewriteable medium.
16. The network of claim 12, wherein the portable physical medium comprises a non-rewriteable medium.
17. The network of claim 12, wherein the portable physical medium causes the gaming machine to display a game outcome.
18. The network of claim 12, wherein the recording means records a game outcome in human-readable form on the physical medium.
19. The network of claim 13, wherein the ticket reader comprises a scanner.
20. The network of claim 13, wherein the ticket reader comprises a radio frequency identification reader.
21. The network of claim 13, wherein the ticket reader comprises a bill validator.
22. A gaming method, comprising:
maintaining a local pool of game determinations in a network device of a gaming establishment;
communicating with a local network device to obtain a game determination;
issuing a game ticket that includes the game determination to a player in the gaming establishment;
displaying a game outcome corresponding to the game determination; and
printing a cashout ticket indicating the game outcome.
23. The gaming method of claim 22, wherein the game determination is indicated by an RNG seed.
24. The method of claim 22, further comprising providing the player an opportunity to win a bonus.
25. The method of claim 22, further comprising providing the player an opportunity to win a progressive jackpot.
26. The method of claim 22, further comprising the step of validating the cashout ticket by the local network device.
27. The method of claim 22, wherein the game ticket is valid for a plurality of games.
28. The method of claim 22, wherein the cashout ticket indicates a plurality of game outcomes.
29. The method of claim 22, wherein a winning cashout ticket may be used to play additional games.
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US8523064B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2013-09-03 Brian K. Buchheit Graphical user interface for the conversion of loyalty points for services
US8540152B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2013-09-24 Brian K. Buchheit Conversion operations for loyalty points of different programs redeemable for services
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US8684265B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2014-04-01 Sean I. Mcghie Rewards program website permitting conversion/transfer of non-negotiable credits to entity independent funds
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US8789752B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2014-07-29 Sean I. Mcghie Conversion/transfer of in-game credits to entity independent or negotiable funds
US8794518B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2014-08-05 Sean I. Mcghie Conversion of loyalty points for a financial institution to a different loyalty point program for services
US8950669B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2015-02-10 Sean I. Mcghie Conversion of non-negotiable credits to entity independent funds
US8523063B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2013-09-03 Sean I. Mcghie Conversion operations of non-negotiable credits to funds between an entity and a commerce partner
US8944320B1 (en) 2006-05-25 2015-02-03 Sean I. Mcghie Conversion/transfer of non-negotiable credits to in-game funds for in-game purchases
US20100022291A1 (en) * 2008-02-11 2010-01-28 Stefano Frank Segreto System and Method for Providing Promotional Play of a Wagering Game
US8807427B1 (en) 2012-11-20 2014-08-19 Sean I. Mcghie Conversion/transfer of non-negotiable credits to in-game funds for in-game purchases
US8757622B1 (en) 2012-12-18 2014-06-24 Innovate! Technologies Group, LLC Bingo table game and method of playing bingo
US9305435B2 (en) 2013-09-09 2016-04-05 Igt Gaming system and method for redeeming a winning ticket and/or a plurality of non-winning tickets having corresponding symbols for an award
US9659444B2 (en) 2013-09-20 2017-05-23 Igt Gaming system and method for providing cashable and non-cashable credits upon cash-out
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