US20060189390A1 - Shared transport medium system and method for use within a casino or gambling environment - Google Patents

Shared transport medium system and method for use within a casino or gambling environment Download PDF

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US20060189390A1
US20060189390A1 US11/342,333 US34233306A US2006189390A1 US 20060189390 A1 US20060189390 A1 US 20060189390A1 US 34233306 A US34233306 A US 34233306A US 2006189390 A1 US2006189390 A1 US 2006189390A1
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transport medium
apparatus
method
dcu
electronic gaming
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Abandoned
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US11/342,333
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John Bird
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Stragent LLC
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Stragent LLC
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Priority to US64892905P priority Critical
Application filed by Stragent LLC filed Critical Stragent LLC
Priority to US11/342,333 priority patent/US20060189390A1/en
Priority claimed from US11/373,851 external-priority patent/US20060189391A1/en
Assigned to STRAGENT, LLC reassignment STRAGENT, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BIRD, JOHN M.
Publication of US20060189390A1 publication Critical patent/US20060189390A1/en
Priority claimed from US11/780,316 external-priority patent/US20080026850A1/en
Assigned to STRAGENT, LLC reassignment STRAGENT, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: STRAGENT TECHNOLOGIES, LLC
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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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
    • 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
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • 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
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • G07F17/3223Architectural aspects of a gaming system, e.g. internal configuration, master/slave, wireless communication

Abstract

A gaming system and associated method are provided including at least one electronic gaming machine, and an apparatus selected from the group consisting of a data collection unit and a back-end server. Further included is a transport medium for providing communication between the at least one electronic gaming machine and the apparatus.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATION(s)
  • The present application claims priority from a provisional application filed Jan. 31, 2005 under Ser. No. 60/648,929, which is incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention related to a networking system, and more particularly to a casino or gambling environment networking system.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Most casinos and gambling environments use a Multi-Drop Communication Link (MDCL) to connect an Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM), or a series of EGMs to a central back-end (enterprise) computer/server. Increasingly, Ethernet is being considered and/or deployed to perform these connections. Often, each Ethernet hub or MDCL connects a number of EGMs to an intermediary computer (known as a Data Collection Unit - DCU, or the Back—End Computer —BEC). Most EGMs require an interface to the MDCL; this board is commonly called a System Interface Board (SIB). In normal operation, a DCU sequentially polls each connected EGM (via the SIB) for information. Once all units are polled, the cycle repeats. Collected data is sent to the BEC for further processing.
  • The polling and information-exchange data rate between the DCU and SIBs is typically 19.2 Kbaud (dictated by the “standard” internal baud rate of the EGM). Often, pertinent information is output by an EGM outside of its allotted polling time slot (e.g. perhaps a slot machine door is opened while the SIB is waiting for its next poll). When this occurs, the SIB must either cache the information and send it when the next poll request comes around, or ignore the information altogether.
  • Although the MDCL is generally adequate for passing small packets of data, it has major drawbacks for systems requiring more substantial and “real time” information transfers (like that required for a cashless casino environment). Notable drawbacks of MDCL are the limited number of devices that can reside on a given line, and the latency time increases as devices are added, which (when coupled with the relatively low data rate of the MDCL) results in an unacceptable non-real time network environment. Simply put, the more EGMs connected to a MDCL, the longer the time to the next polling cycle, and the greater the departure from a real-time environment.
  • Ethernet networking technology is being considered as a replacement for MDCL. Although Ethernet is a step up, it is much more expensive to implement, and doesn't address the future data bandwidth requirements of the fully networked casino environment. Data rates suffer dramatically as devices are added, especially when the devices asynchronously access the network and collide with each other. Also, there are limitations to the number of devices that can be inexpensively connected to a central server line.
  • The need exists for a network that can handle a relatively unlimited number of large-bandwidth EGM connections on any given line while eliminating latency limitations. This is particularly true for a network that would necessitate immediate and large data exchanges, like that required in a cashless casino environment. An added benefit would be the ability for SIB-SIB (or device-device) communications with minimal support required by the DCU or BEC. And finally, the network should have the capacity to carry a wide variety of media and protocols.
  • SUMMARY
  • A gaming system and associated method are provided including at least one electronic gaming machine, and an apparatus selected from the group consisting of a data collection unit and a back-end server. Further included is a transport medium for providing communication between the at least one electronic gaming machine and the apparatus.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a DCU and fully digital network-enabled SIB in a casino network communication system employing a single twisted pair cabling (category 5 or the like) constructed in accordance with an embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a DCU and analog network-enabled SIB in a casino network communication system employing a single twisted pair cabling (category 5 or the like) constructed in accordance with an embodiment.
  • FIG. 3 is an example of the frequency response for category 5 twisted pair cabling. Also shown is a frequency allocation partition for the DCU and network-enabled SIBs depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 in accordance with an embodiment.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a back-end server connected to multiple DCUs. In turn, the DCUs have multiple network line runs connected to non-adjacent network-enabled SIB clusters.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates the shared characteristics of a DCU and network-enabled SIB interface in accordance with an embodiment.
  • FIG. 6 further illustrates the virtual link in accordance with an embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • With reference to FIG. 1 of the illustrated embodiment, the casino environment back-end server 10 is connected to a DCU 11 via an external high-speed communication link 12 (Gigabit Ethernet, SONET, etc.). It is to be understood that the transport medium for any of the connections (whether BEC/DCU or DCU/SIB or the like) can be any of a number of different types (e.g. T-1 line, coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, wireless, and so on) and can support such protocols and services as Ethernet, Internet Protocol, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), among others.
  • The DCU 11 (consisting of a server, personal computer, workstation, or the like) is provided with one or more external transport medium connectors 13 (such as a category 5 twisted pair, power line interface, fiber optic link, coaxial cable, wireless, among others). In accordance with one of many embodiments disclosed herein, a number of network-enabled devices can share one (or more) of the communication links 13. Network-enabling electronics is either built into or attached to the front end of a SIB 14. This connection provides access to the network via the DCU 11.
  • The DCU 11 and the network-enabled SIBs 14 operate in accordance with the present embodiment to allow multiple SIBs, security cameras, Entertainment Devices, PDAs, or any other network-enabled device, to (once initialized) communicate independently with respect to each other over the transport medium 13. The DCU 11 and the network-enabling electronics 14 of the present embodiment are advantageous because they are simple, reliable, scalable, and inexpensive.
  • The DCU 11 is configured to be a stand-alone unit, but can also be interfaced to a back-end server 10 and/or other computer(s). The DCU 11 performs the following functions: (1) establishes communication with connected devices (e.g. 14); (2) assigns each newly connected device a unique address (including channel); and (3) processes and arbitrates data (information) traffic. The DCU 11 is in continuous communication with the network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14). Similarly, the network-enabled devices are in continuous communication with the DCU 11. Signaling between the DCU 11 and the network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14) occurs in frequency bands conforming to the frequency response of the transport medium. The transport medium frequency spectrum is allocated to different information data types (voice, video, and data).
  • FIG. 3 shows a frequency spectra example of the above-referenced exemplary communication platforms. The DCU 11 can transmit messages to the network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14) on individual frequency channels, as indicated at 30. The DCU assigns an operational channel (or frequency channel) on the communication link 13 to each network-enabled device (e.g. SIB 14) as indicated at 30. The DCU 11 and the network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14) are configured to coexist with other media, such as base-band video, etc.
  • FIG. 1 further depicts components in the DCU 11, and each network-enabled device (e.g. SIB 14). The configuration in FIG. 1 allows for bi-directional communication between the DCU 11 and the network-enabled device (e.g. SIB 14) in a digital format. FIG. 2 depicts another embodiment of the DCU 11 and a network-enabled device (e.g. SIB 14) to allow bi-directional communication in an analog format.
  • Network-enabling electronics consist of small, inexpensive modules that can be built into a SIB, or can interface a SIB (as in 14) or any device (camera, etc.) to the transport medium 13. The physical network interface generally uses the transport medium's most common and inexpensive connector (e.g. an RJ-45 phone style jack for category 5 cabling, a fiber optic connector for optical networking, an antenna for wireless, etc.).
  • Each fully digital SIB 14 is configured with a microcontroller 15, converters (CODEC/ADC/DAC/UART, etc. for multimedia) 16, a driver/receiver unit 17, a frequency synthesizer and modulator/demodulator unit 18 and associated support circuitry (for timing, power control, and so on) 19. The network-enabled SIB 14 performs the following functions (among others): (1) monitors EGM activity (e.g. polls EGM, accepts EGM output, etc.); (2) performs requests from the DCU (e.g. gets EGM meter readings, etc.); and (3) performs digital-to-analog and/or analog-to-digital conversions (DAC/ADC) as required for digital data/voice transmission if configured as in FIG. 1. Data (information) modulates a carrier, which is transmitted to the DCU. In the same fashion, the DCU modulates a corresponding carrier with data that is sent to the SIB. In some cases, the carrier can be used as the local oscillator in the driver/receiver unit 17.
  • EGM data transmissions to and from the network-enabled SIB 14 are asynchronous using a conventional UART. The data rate is limited only by the baud rate of said EGM. The network-enabled SIB 14 in turn is connected directly to the transport medium 13 via a transport medium connector. Likewise, the DCU 11 in FIG. 1 is connected directly to the transport medium 13 via a transport medium connector.
  • The DCU 11 comprises a driver/receiver unit 20, a multiple-frequency generator unit 21 having a modulator/demodulator for each of the network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14), and a multi-channel UART (using an FPGA) 22.
  • As stated previously, the DCU 11 and network-enabled SIBS 14 communicate over frequency channels within the transport medium's frequency response range (e.g. 0- 100 Mhz for category 5 cabling). These frequency channels are useful for the embodiment in FIG. 1. Modulation techniques such as Frequency Shift Keying (FSK), Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM), etc., can be used to maximize the bits/Hertz ratio, thereby maximizing the number of network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14) that can be supported on a single link 13.
  • With reference to FIG. 2, the network-enabled device (e.g. SIB 14′) is configured for analog transmissions (e.g. frequency modulation) as opposed to the digital transmissions generated by the network-enabling device depicted in FIG. 1. FIG. 2 depicts the network-enabled SIB 14′, consisting of a micro-controller 15′, frequency synthesizer and modulator/demodulator 18′, that uses analog data (e.g. voice, video, etc.) to modulate a carrier. The modulated carrier is demodulated and converted as necessary into digital data at and by the DCU 11′.
  • A combination of digital and analog transmissions can be implemented in network-enabling electronics as needed to enhance performance and/or decrease cost. The device would then be the result of a merger of some component blocks in FIGS. 1 and 2.
  • As stated previously, the DCU 11 can be provided with a plurality of data/communication media. For example, casino devices such as slot machines, security cameras, hand-held PDA type devices, etc., and any other controllable or information device can be connected to the transport medium 13 within the casino, allowing information exchange between devices (DCU, SIB, cameras, etc.).
  • With reference to FIG. 4, the BEC 10 is configured to interface with one or more DCU(s) 11. The DCU(s) manage both narrowband and broadband communications with various network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14) connected to the transport medium. An application example of a broadband requirement would be having the BEC 10 provided with a broadband communication link (such as a coaxial cable, DSL, or fiber optics) to receive information destined for a network-enabled device on the casino floor via satellite. The BEC 10 may be configured to communicate with different DCUs through different transmission media (such as a hybrid fiber optic coaxial cable, radio frequency (RF) link, among others) and may use different signal protocols.
  • With continued reference to FIG. 4, the DCU 11 can support multiple transport medium lines for (non-adjacent) device clusters. In this way, multiple DCUs don't have to be used unless such a situation is desired.
  • In accordance with another embodiment, a system for performing media routing using distributed processing will now be described. As stated previously, the traditional architecture for a conventional casino network consists of a series of EGMs connected directly to SIBs that provide the MDCL interface to the DCU. EGM polling is carried out at by the DCU. Further, using an Ethernet implementation, each EGM is connected to an Ethernet enabled SIB. These SIBs then connect to a hub, which in turn connects to a subsequent hub (depending upon the number of SIBS), which ultimately connects to the DCU. As more EGMs are added to the casino network, more physical wire runs and hubs are needed, and the computing requirements inside the DCU increase. By contrast, and in accordance with the present embodiment, data is multiplexed by various means onto a single set of wires or similar medium, and are potentially available for all devices connected to the medium. By means of intelligence in or near the network-enabled devices (e.g. SIB 14, and according to a defined protocol) each device can decide whether it is the appropriate destination for incoming information. In the distributed method of the present embodiment, the transmission medium is partitioned into a set of Virtual Links and (optionally) Virtual Command Channels. The Virtual Links carry data (information) and can be narrowband and/or broadband, while the Virtual Command Channels carry the switching protocol and are narrowband, as indicated in FIG. 5.
  • For device-device or BEC-device communication, the switching protocol marks each connect request with the following information: (1) initiating device; (2) recipient identifier requirements; (3) progress information (e.g. request answered); and (5) any synchronization and/or arbitration information.
  • An exemplary data routing sequence using the distributed processing method of the present embodiment proceeds as follows. First, the BEC 10 receives a request to play a table game from a legitimate Internet gambler. The request is routed to the DCU, and a copy of the relevant information about the connection attaches a player ID. Each network-enabled device (e.g. SIB 14) connected to the transport medium examines the packet (being broadcast over the Virtual Command Channel) using the enclosed connect information, to determine if it is an appropriate destination. If so, the device constructs a synchronization packet from the incoming player ID and its own unique device ID, and transmits it on the Virtual Data Channel. The DCU 11 receives the transmitted device ID and sends a Device Connect packet back to the BEC. This Device Connect packet contains the Virtual Link address where the connection will be made. When the device (e.g. SIB 14) is ready to connect, it acknowledges by re-transmitting its synchronization packet. The device (e.g. SIB 14) then connects itself to the Virtual Link.
  • One embodiment thus involves a system where a DCU/BEC and SIB relationship continues to exist, but with added functionality and in a different format. The DCU (or BEC) communicates with the SIBs (which are connected to their respective EGMs) over a transport medium (e.g. category 5 twisted pair cabling, fiber optics, coax, etc.) to manage data traffic (more correctly called information traffic) and perform data signaling. Further, if required, the DCU(BEC)/SIB traffic on the transport medium can coexist with current standards for Ethernet, Internet Protocol (IP) communication, and the like (which is not true for MDCL or traditional Ethernet). The DCU/BEC and SIBs communicate using portions of the radio frequency spectrum that fall within the frequency response range of the transport medium (which includes wireless carriers-that is, radio frequencies ranging from Low Frequency through visible light and beyond).
  • In accordance with another embodiment, the DCU/(BEC) is configured as a virtual link (or channel) interface, data collector, and switch. If the DCU in used in conjunction with a BEC, the DCU is the communication bridge between the back-end server and the SIBs, and also facilitates SIB-SIB (or device-device) communication. Since the DCU and SIBs share a single set of wires (or other transport medium), data (information) is exchanged on a virtual link (or channel) interface, one unique “line” per SIB. Alternatively, the DCU and SIBs can be configured to exchange data processing messages on one or more shared virtual data channels.
  • In accordance with yet another embodiment, virtual link switching is performed via distributed switching operations (i.e. switching operations may be performed by the SIBs themselves, with minimal DCU arbitration, such as when one SIB needs to talk to another SIB, receive distributed multimedia, or the like).
  • While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of a preferred embodiment should not be limited by any of the above described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.

Claims (20)

1. A gaming system, comprising:
at least one electronic gaming machine;
an apparatus selected from the group consisting of a data collection unit and a back-end server; and
a transport medium for providing communication between the at least one electronic gaming machine and the apparatus.
2. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the apparatus performs switching operations.
3. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes the data collection unit.
4. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes the back-end server.
5. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the transport medium provides the communication between the at least one electronic gaming machine and the apparatus, utilizing a system interface board associated with the at least one electronic gaming machine.
6. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the transport medium is selected from the group consisting of category 5 twisted pair cabling, fiber optics cabling, and coax cabling.
7. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the apparatus is configured as a virtual link interface.
8. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the apparatus is configured as a channel interface.
9. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein a plurality of the electronic gaming machines are included, each capable of communicating with each other utilizing the transport medium.
10. The gaming system of claim 9, wherein each of the electronic gaming machines communicate via a dedicated virtual link or channel interface.
11. A method, comprising:
providing communication between at least one electronic gaming machine, and an apparatus selected from the group consisting of at least one of a data collection unit and a back-end server, utilizing a transport medium.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the apparatus performs switching operations.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein the apparatus includes the data collection unit.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein the apparatus includes the back-end server.
15. The method of claim 1 1, wherein the transport medium provides the communication between the at least one electronic gaming machine and the apparatus, utilizing a system interface board associated with the at least one electronic gaming machine.
16. The method of claim 11, wherein the transport medium is selected from the group consisting of category 5 twisted pair cabling, fiber optics cabling, and coax cabling.
17. The method of claim 11, wherein the apparatus is configured as a virtual link interface.
18. The method of claim 11, wherein the apparatus is configured as a channel interface.
19. The method of claim 11, wherein a plurality of the electronic gaming machines are included, each capable of communicating with each other utilizing the transport medium.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein each of the electronic gaming machines communicate via a dedicated virtual link or channel interface.
US11/342,333 2005-01-31 2006-01-26 Shared transport medium system and method for use within a casino or gambling environment Abandoned US20060189390A1 (en)

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US64892905P true 2005-01-31 2005-01-31
US11/342,333 US20060189390A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2006-01-26 Shared transport medium system and method for use within a casino or gambling environment

Applications Claiming Priority (13)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US11/342,333 US20060189390A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2006-01-26 Shared transport medium system and method for use within a casino or gambling environment
US11/373,851 US20060189391A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2006-03-10 Gaming machine system and method
US11/780,316 US20080026850A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Gaming system and method for receiving information destined for a gaming client
US11/780,298 US20080045345A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Gaming machine candle system and method
US11/780,272 US20080015026A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Daisy-chain/tapped network system and method for a gaming environment
US11/780,199 US20080015010A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Camera-equipped networked gaming machine system and method for two-way communication
US11/780,338 US20080032802A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Gaming system and method for providing interaction between a user and one other party
US11/780,324 US20080015028A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Gaming system and method for providing communication between a gaming client and a server by a switching protocol
US11/780,309 US20080015027A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Centralized game board system and method for enhanced network-enabled features in a gaming environment
US11/780,333 US20080015019A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Gaming system and method in which a server is in communication with a central repository of a game application
US11/780,356 US20080015029A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Gaming system in which a central repository of a game application is in communication with a gaming client via a network
US11/780,237 US20080026849A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 System and method for allowing intercommunication among distributed users in a gaming environment
US11/780,286 US20080015016A1 (en) 2005-01-31 2007-07-19 Combined biometric/smart-device identification system and method for a gaming environment

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US20030032479A1 (en) * 2001-08-09 2003-02-13 Igt Virtual cameras and 3-D gaming enviroments in a gaming machine
US6641484B2 (en) * 2001-09-21 2003-11-04 Igt Gaming machine including security data collection device
US20030078103A1 (en) * 2001-09-28 2003-04-24 Igt Game development architecture that decouples the game logic from the graphics logic
US20030064801A1 (en) * 2001-09-28 2003-04-03 Igt Decoupling of the graphical presentation of a game from the presentation logic
US6755742B1 (en) * 2002-09-13 2004-06-29 Gametech International, Inc. Method and apparatus for remote game device with failure fallback and restoration
US20040106452A1 (en) * 2002-12-02 2004-06-03 Igt Hosted game development environment

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US8663010B2 (en) 2005-02-28 2014-03-04 Wms Gaming Inc. Remote game processing
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