US20070066398A1 - Cashless gaming system and method - Google Patents

Cashless gaming system and method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070066398A1
US20070066398A1 US11232630 US23263005A US2007066398A1 US 20070066398 A1 US20070066398 A1 US 20070066398A1 US 11232630 US11232630 US 11232630 US 23263005 A US23263005 A US 23263005A US 2007066398 A1 US2007066398 A1 US 2007066398A1
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gaming machine
information
time
cash
keys
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Abandoned
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US11232630
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Earl Rowan
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KASHE Pty Ltd
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KASHE Pty Ltd
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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
    • G07F17/3202Hardware 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
    • 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

Abstract

A gaming machine (100) and a method of operating a gaming machine are provided. Encrypted information, including player credit information and identification information, is received at the gaming machine from a cash device (190) using a non-contact reader (160). The received information is decrypted using one of a preset number of stored time-stamped keys, the stored time-stamped keys being stored in a first in first out buffer (SAM2) and having been updated sequentially from a remote central server (110). The gaming machine is enabled for play by the player if the information has been successfully decrypted and the received player credit information meets predetermined criteria to allow play on the gaming machine. Updated information, including updated player credit information, is encrypted with one of the stored time-stamped keys on enablement of the gaming machine for play. The encrypted updated information is written to the cash device. A system including a plurality of such gaming machines and a central server is also provided.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to systems for use in gaming establishments such as casinos. In particular, the present invention relates to systems for controlling cash handling procedures within the gaming establishments.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • In order to minimise costs, reduce staff and increase security there have been attempts to introduce systems that remove or reduce cash handling procedures on the gaming room floor of a gaming establishment. These systems range in functionality from electronic tokens to Ticket in Ticket out systems (TITO), in which printed bar-codes are issued at the end of play from a gaming machine, each bar code uniquely identifying an entry in a central database, and holding a record of the value associated with it, which can be read at a further gaming machine. Although most systems offer improvement on cash, none of the proposed systems totally eliminates the major costs associated with the cash handling processes. TITO systems are expensive to operate, requiring staff to load blank tickets or change paper rolls, in addition to servicing of printing parts. Printers are usually high maintenance devices and the real costs and problems with this system will not be apparent for some time. Contact Smartcards may also suffer similar problems; although there may not be similar issues with the operation, readers are expensive and prone to wear and damage, as are the Smartcards.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Therefore, according to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a gaming machine including a reader to read data representing information, including encrypted credit value information and identification information, from a player held device, a connection component to connect to a remote central server, the connection component being operable to receive updated time-stamped encryption keys from the remote central server, a storage component to store a preset number of received time stamped encryption keys in a first in first out buffer, a decryption component to decrypt the encrypted credit value information using one of the time-stamped encryption keys stored in the buffer, an encryption component to re-encrypt information including updated credit value information, and a writer to write data representing the re-encrypted information to the player held device identified by the identification information.
  • According to a second aspect, there is provided a gaming machine system including a plurality of gaming machines according to the first aspect of the invention, and a central server, connected, at least intermittently, to each gaming machine via the respective connection component of each gaming machine.
  • According to a third aspect, there is provided a method of operating a gaming machine, the method including receiving data representing information, including encrypted credit value information and identification information, from a cash device using a reader, decrypting the credit value information using one of a preset number of stored time-stamped keys, the stored time-stamped keys being stored in a first in first out format and having been updated sequentially from a remote central server, enabling the gaming machine for play by the player if the credit value information has been successfully decrypted and the received information meets predetermined criteria to allow play on the gaming machine, encrypting updated information, including updated credit value information, with one of the stored time-stamped keys on enablement of the gaming machine for play, and writing data representing the encrypted updated information to the cash device.
  • A further aspect of the invention is a loyalty based reward system, where products or services are given as prizes. A prize pool may be provided, which may be incremented and decremented as a result of predictive analysis of the turnover of an establishment holding gaming machines, or a linked group of such establishments. In a preferred form, the allocation of the prize is written to the cash device of previous aspects of the invention from a gaming machine. In this way, the credit value information can also include credits relating to products and/or services, as well as cash value. The allocated prizes held in the credit value information in the cash device can then be redeemed from a product/service provider, by presenting the cash device to a reader at the provider.
  • Non-contact technology can be used in cashless gaming machine floors. Non-contact card readers can be fully enclosed within a gaming machine, and there are no moving parts or components to damage or wear out. Additionally, non-contact readers are small in size and easily retrofitted to existing machines. The major reason that this technology has not been adapted to this application has been a security issue. It has always been thought that cards must be in the gaming machine at all times to execute secure transactions.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Specific embodiments of the invention will now be described, purely by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 a shows a system according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 1 b shows parts of a gaming machine terminal according to an embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 1 c shows a schematic of storage and transmission of rolling keys used in an embodiment of the invention; and
  • FIG. 2 shows a method of use of a cash device and gaming machine according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
  • FIG. 1 a shows a system according to an embodiment of the invention. The system includes a number of parts. Gaming machines 100 are provided on the game floor. The gaming machines 100 are connected a central server 110, which is a remote server to the gaming machines, via an Ethernet link. A central secure access module SAM 1 is connected to the central server 110 via an encrypted channel. The central server 110 is also connected by an encrypted channel, via a first firewall 115 and an Ethernet link, to cashier terminals 120, and automated cash dispensers 130. A group of report servers 140 is also connected, via a second firewall 150, to the central server 110. Additionally, integrated payment terminals 155 are also provided, which are also connected to the central server 110.
  • Communication between each gaming machine 100 and the central server 110 is via a Lonworks Network and Ethernet Link. This modular approach to communications allows considerable extensibility within the system. The gaming machines 100 interface via a six wire link (CAT5 cable) to a Lonworks to Ethernet router (two wires for communications, four wires for power). Each device can interface up to 62 gaming machines 100 and translates data to a 10/100 mbit Ethernet link. The Ethernet link interfaces via a port switch at 100 mbit to the central server 110. All communications cables are standard CAT5 Cable with plug terminated ends. The communications between the gaming machines 100 and the central server 110 are encrypted using 3DES algorithm. All free ports are identified and secured against listening or other interference devices. Any unidentified device is automatically locked-out and a security alarm set.
  • The gaming machines 100 communicate with non-contact RF smart card cash devices 190. The cash devices 190 are held by and need not leave the possession of a player while they are on the gaming room floor. In particular, the cash devices 190 can be retained by the player at all times and need not be placed inside a gaming machine 100, which would result in a temporary loss of possession of the cash device 190. The cash devices 190 each hold identification information, in the form of a unique identifier, and a credit value (an amount of credit that the player currently holds), marked with a timestamp. The information held on the cash device 190 is encrypted. Each cash device 190 holds an encryption key for reading/writing the timestamp held on the cash device.
  • The software run on the central server 110 forms the system backbone providing a communications interface between all other systems. The central server 110 also provides the communications between the central security access module SAM1 of the central server 110 and gaming machine security access modules SAM2 in the gaming machines 100. It also provides an interface for a dynamic key management system, discussed below.
  • The central server 110 provides all of the communications management and analysis protocols. The central server provides: a secure database; transaction tracing; gaming machine installation tools; program download tools; communications analysis; gaming machine reset tools; raw data tracing tools; Ethernet monitoring tools; and security monitoring tools.
  • In the present embodiment, the central server 110 is a PC operating Windows XP. The PC is of sufficient power to manage the Ethernet communications and the database management. The data through-put is dependent on the number of gaming machines 100 on the network and the number of transactions that can occur. The empirical formula to calculate maximum through-put is the product of: the number of gaming machines; size of package; number of games per minute played; and 20, divided by 60. Per link (fully populated) is the product of: 62; size of package; number of games per minute played; and 20, divided by 60.
  • Provision is also made for automated cash dispenser 130 and cashier terminal 120 transactions. The database contains an encrypted version of all raw communications data. An automatic backup facility for all data via a RAID drive system or secured RAM is effected.
  • The group of report servers 140 includes a membership server 144, a financial server 142 and a gaming analysis server 146. The financial server 142 provides reporting functionality on all financial transactions.
  • Each cashier terminal 120 is provided with a link to the financial server 142 and a cash device reader. The cashier terminal 120 allows a cashier to see the transaction log of any cash device 190 presented to the reader. In operation a player presents their cash device 190 to the reader and it automatically brings up the transaction to date and the final balance on the cash device 190. This is automatically checked against the value stored on the cash device 190. Any variation is displayed. If the balance on the cash device 190 is not the same as the reconciliation report provided by the financial server 142, the cashier terminal 120 requests, via the central server 110, the last transaction for the particular gaming machine 100 (identified by unique number) stored on the cash device. The central server maintains the reconciliation report which should always balance with that stored on the cash device 190. Any discrepancies are referred to management and payment is not made unless both the value stored on the cash device and financial server 142 balance.
  • The automated cash dispensers 130 operate in a similar fashion to normal banking ATMs. When a cash device 190 is presented to a reader on the automated cash dispenser 130, the data is read from the cash device 190 and it is cleared. This data is then tested against a reconciliation report from the financial server 142. If both values agree, the automated cash dispenser 130 dispenses that amount of cash in note (or coins). If there is a discrepancy, the player is asked to replace the cash device 190 on the reader and the transaction is rolled back to the cash device 190. The player is then referred to a cashier for manual reconciliation. This also occurs if the last transaction has exceeded a pre-set time out, for example 24 hours, on the transactions, as discussed below. This device interfaces to the financial server 142 through the Ethernet link.
  • The membership server 144 provides a database of all users and provides any required loyalty/marketing functionality. A player must be a member to take part in the marketing promotions. A player becomes a member by filing our personal details on an application form. This data is entered into the membership server 144 and stored in the membership database. A record is maintained of each member's overall spend, playing time, preferential machines, days in play, spend ratio and play since last award ratio. This rates a member for special award functions. This provides information to the gaming machines 100 via the central server 100 on specific promotional awards. The membership server 144 can also run award schemes as desired. In small systems the central server 110 may also be required to run the membership/marketing software rather than providing a separate membership server 142 for this purpose.
  • The majority of Loyalty/Reward programs in operation are points based systems where a user receives a discount by way of collecting points for playing Gaming Machines. This results in the Venue having an increasing debt directly related to points, which are not redeemed. This ‘float’ is increased by points that are not redeemed. Unfortunately there is no way to effectively remove this debt or know which part is real and which will never be redeemed. The points are directly coupled to the user play rate and are usually not sufficient to be attractive to the transient and small volume player. It is also apparent that this method requires the system to ‘track’ an individual's spend on gaming. The points awarded is equal to a player's spend machine Turnover multiplied by a preset percentage. There is a direct relationship between a player's spending and points collected.
  • Further to this, points are usually ‘cashed out’ the money being directly returned to the gaming machine. If this money is lost the player feels that the points saving effort gave them little reward. There are no dynamics in the system operation as no-one other than the player receiving the award knows that it is happening. This provides a ‘flat’ marketing response, which is constant through-out the play period.
  • To provide dynamics the venue must support the points based system with further promotional activities expanding the real cost of promotions. Such promotions usually involve a staff member running a promotional event. This works only when the staff member is proficient and the promotion is in operation when the Gaming Room is at its maximum turnover.
  • A better model is to remove points from the system and automate the Rewards to the player. The Rewards should be tangible items which have an immediate and recognisable value. In the present rewards system, a list of awards is entered into the central server and a value assigned to each item. The award items can be anything from a free drink to an overseas trip. Additionally, awards can be in-house items or from third party suppliers. The system ‘tracks’ the total gaming room turnover from data supplied from the gaming machines and using a predictive analysis formula determines the future turnover.
  • Giving a simple representation, assuming ten minutes was taken as the award period the system ‘tracks’ the past 10 minute's turnover to determine the next ten minute's turnover. A percentage of the predicted turnover plus any residual turnover from previous rewards is given as the available prize pool. At a random time and to a random player an award is made from the prize pool to one of the gaming machine players. This award will decrement the quantity of this particular prize by one if set to decrement and also increment the number of such prizes awarded.
  • When a prize is awarded audio and visual messaging supports the win, so that all in the gaming room are aware of the promotion. A message on the gaming machine LCD display will indicate to the player that they have won a prize. To accept the prize the player must place the cash device on the gaming machine which will ‘write’ the prize code to the cash device, in the same way as for a cash credit value.
  • The prize can then be redeemed at a terminal in the specific area relative to that award.
  • For example, a drink can be redeemed at a bar terminal etc.
  • Although prizes are awarded consistently throughout the play period the value of the prize is directly associated to the gaming room turnover. In this way high value prizes are always awarded when the gaming room is at its busiest. This is the most efficient method of promotion; give the highest value prizes when the most players can be notified. Audio and Visual messaging is pre-recorded by professional actors and is presented automatically by the system. This effectively removes the requirement to have staff performing duties, which may lie outside their expertise.
  • Various advantages can be seen of this method of loyalty based system. These include: no residual points liability; low staff involvement; ability to run third party promotions (zero cost); awards all players; awards transient players; promotions run only at the most appropriate time; audio-visuals professionally presented; low cost operation; promotions controlled by senior management; total control of promotional budget; no individual player tracking; and it is possible to remove turn-over tracking if required (trade promotion).
  • Gaming machine analysis provides a method of testing the effectiveness of each gaming machine 100 and its specific game. It is possible to see instantaneously what is a profitable game and what is not, and work game changes to fit what players want to play. The gaming machine analysis server 146 maintains a record of all plays on all gaming machines 100. This information is derived from the central server 110 and includes all meters present on each gaming machine 100. The meter configuration may vary in different jurisdictions but as a minimum the following meters are required for full analysis. Data may be entered manually from hard meters (physical read outs on the gaming machines 100 themselves) where no soft metering (automated, data up-linking meter) is available.
  • The actual net revenue can be said to equal clearances minus the sum of: refills; cancelled credits; and short pays. The operating percentage is net revenue divided by turnover multiplied by 100. The expected net revenue is turnover multiplied by carded percentage. The expected variation is the actual net revenue minus the expected revenue. The break-even point is the ownership costs divided by the return, in turn divided by: 1 minus any tax payable (as a fraction). The ownership costs are monthly loan repayments, fees and charges. The return is the gross turnover minus the return to the player.
  • With regard to cash flow analysis, this can be determined by adding: the opening hopper balance; turnover; hopper refills; cancelled credits; jackpots; and short pay and subtracting: jackpots; dollars won; and hopper closing balance to find the expected cash clearance, which is equal to cash box meter minus the actual cash clearance.
  • Various meters can be provided within the system. These may include: A turnover meter, which records all credits played/invested/bet on the gaming machines 100—this is all cash and credits which go through the gaming machines 100; a total wins meter, which records all credits won by the player on each gaming machine 100, regardless of whether the credits are collected or played; a cashbox meter, which records all coins to the cashbox and notes to the note acceptor; a cancelled credit meter, which records all credits cancelled manually by the attendant; a stroke meter, which records the number of games played irrespective of credits played; and a refill meter, which records all coins entered into the hopper (manually incremented).
  • Management reports may also be provided by the system. These may include Cash Flow Analysis reports. Cash flow analysis is a method to measure, monitor and analyse the flow of money through a gaming machine 100 from the point of insertion of money to its point of clearance. Net Revenue Analysis reports may also be provided. A net revenue analysis is undertaken to determine whether a gaming machine is performing to its carded percentage.
  • Cash Flow Analysis reports may be provided. This report provides a differential between the theoretical return to hotel for each gaming machine and the actual return. This is a direct measurement of gaming machine performance and is used to adjust gaming machine carding to ensure maximum profitability from each gaming machine.
  • Gaming Room Performance reports may also be provided. This identifies the most successful and the least successful gaming machines in the installation. By identifying the gaming machines, recommendations can be made about their placement in the room, the need to convert, or whether or not they should be traded out.
  • A Daily Performance report may be provided. This summarises the daily performance of the gaming machine, cash in, cash out, return to venue. It also presents an overview of gaming machine performance and outlines lowest and highest performers. A Weekly Performance report may also be provided. Like the daily performance tracking report this report tracks the weekly performance of the gaming room showing cash in, cash out and return to venue. This provides a snapshot of current trends. It can be used to determine current strategies for improved profitability.
  • Various ranking reports may also be provided. Break even reports show when a gaming machine begins to make a return on investment. Volatility reports show volatile games, which should be identified as they can cause erratic variations on the venue's returns making it difficult to maintain a predictable return. Monitoring each game's performance allows such machines to be isolated and corrective action taken to resolve these issues.
  • A gaming machine by denomination report determines what the demand for a specific denomination of gaming machines is by the players. It determines whether a specific denomination of gaming machine is under or oversupplied on the gaming room floor.
  • A gaming machine by manufacturer report shows the popularity of specific games change and this is dependant on which manufacturer produces the most successful product. A venue must assess this information to manage game changes and new machine purchases. Ranking machines by manufacturer allow an operator to maintain a critical watch on which manufactures are getting it right.
  • In the present embodiment, as described above, the gaming machines 100 offer differing types of games. FIG. 1 b shows some components of the gaming machines 100. Each gaming machine 100 has a non-contact reader 160, a communications module 170 (in the present embodiment, a FT-10), an LCD display 175 and a keyboard 180, all connected to the reader 160.
  • The gaming machine reader 160 includes an antenna 162, an interface processor 164, connected to the antenna 162 via a RF interface unit 166, a communications processor 168 and a gaming machine secure access module SAM2, the last two both being connected to the interface processor 166. The communications module 170, LCD display 175 and keyboard 180 are all connected to the interface processor 164. In the present embodiment, the reader 160 also acts as a non-contact writer to write back to cash devices. The communications module 170 acts as a connection for the gaming machine to the central server. The gaming machine secure access module SAM2 acts as a storage module for storing a predetermined number of rolling keys, as described below. The interface processor 164 passes data to the module SAM2 which acts as both an encryption and a decryption component. The interface processor 164 sends raw data to the module SAM2, which encrypts it and returns it to the interface processor 164 to pass to the central server and cash device. The module SAM2 also receives encrypted data from the interface processor 164, which it decrypts and passes back to the interface processor 164.
  • Additionally, the gaming machines 100 each have software to carry out the following functions: roll-back incomplete transactions; read, write, read checking of all transactions; de-bounce all keyboard functions; provide prioritised interrupt drivers; have no redundant code; provide secure shutdown procedures; provide secure back-up of cash values during power down; manage LCD messaging; accept and process information from the central server via the neuron chip; provide any loyalty system interfacing to the computer using information from the central server; and have complete and up-to-date documentation on all functionality.
  • Embodiments of the invention employ dynamic key management. Dynamic key management is a process that generates time domain (rolling) encryption keys used in the present invention. The rolling keys are 16 byte random keys, generated within the central security access module SAM1, time stamped and 3DES encrypted with a fixed internal security key. Each such rolling key is identifiable by its exclusive time stamp. The process of using the rolling keys is shown schematically in FIG. 1 c. In operation the central server 110 issues a command on a pre-determined time scale to the central module SAM1 to generate a key, the central module SAM1 responds by generating random 3DES session keys and a time stamp. The module SAM1 encrypts this rolling key data using the fixed internal security key and passes the data to the central server 110. The central server 110 in turn broadcasts the data to all gaming machines 100. The central server 110 also broadcasts the data to the automated cash dispensers 130. The timing of the broadcast in the present embodiment is hourly. However, the timing may be random, or contain a certain random element, in order to reduce predictability.
  • When a gaming machine 100 receives the data, it passes it to the gaming machine security access module SAM2 held by that gaming machine 100. That gaming machine module SAM2 decrypts the rolling key data using the fixed key shared between SAM1 and SAM2 and adds it to its key table. Module SAM2 acts as a storage component for a preset number of the received keys. Each such received key is added to the key table in sequence. As described above, the key table is set to hold a pre-defined number of keys and act as a first in first out (FIFO) buffer of limited length. When the key table is full the first-in key the oldest key in the buffer is deleted. On each further addition of a new received key, the oldest stored key is deleted from the FIFO buffer.
  • The automated cash dispensers each have a dispenser security access module (not shown), which functions in the same way as the gaming machine modules SAM2.
  • Data being sent to a cash device is 3DES encrypted using the third most recently entered key in the buffer; this ensures that all gaming machines recognise all keys. In the present embodiment, a key is generated every hour and the maximum number of keys held in the module SAM2 is set at 24. In this case, each key is valid for a 24 hour period on any gaming machine 100. This gives a player 24 hours to use the stored credits on a gaming machine 100. Each time the player transfers credits to the cash device a new key is used to enable that transaction and the 24 hour period begins again. Once the key is no longer available on a gaming machine 100 the player must cash out all credits at a cashier terminal. The concept of rolling keys ensures that a player cannot remove a cash device from the venue, attempt to modify data and return with a new credit value.
  • As each cash device has its own identifying number, transactions at the cashier terminal are linked to the central server 110, which provides a reconciliation report on each specific cash device. Hence, a complete trace of all transactions on each individual cash device is available.
  • In order to successfully modify a cash device a player would be required to know the time stamp, associated key, fixed keys, 3DES method, internal cash device read/write keys and internal cash device ID Number and the gaming machine floor number. This is too much information to uncover in the time frame available and even if it could be managed this would only apply to that specific cash device and that specific session key.
  • Additionally, in this case, the reconciled value held at the central server regarding the cash device would not correspond to that held on the cash device. In this case, once a discrepancy between a transaction and the available recorded credit was discovered on reconciliation, the cash device is blocked from acting at any further gaming machines until the discrepancy has been resolved. In this case, the player must visit a cashier terminal before the cash device can be used on another gaming machine.
  • Each transaction stored on a cash device includes the following data:
  • 1. Last transaction encrypted by session keys:
  • a. Lonworks terminal ID—Unique ID number Neuron chip (terminal ID)
  • b. Time/date stamp—Transaction real time and date
  • c. Stored credit value—cash value of this transaction
  • d. Transaction number—an incremental count of all transactions (load count+pay count+1)
  • 2. Encrypted by fixed keys
  • a. Key time stamp—the issue number of the session key
  • b. Last load—the last value to be loaded to a gaming machine
  • c. Last pay—the last value paid out on this cash device
  • d. Load count—number of loads to this cash device
  • e. Pay count—number of payouts from this cash device.
  • FIG. 2 shows a process for use of the reader at a gaming machine. The reader reads the encrypted information from the cash device. The cash device ID and timestamp identifier are read at S202, S204. This information is decrypted at S206 using a fixed key, shared between the cash devices and the readers. At S208, the time-stamp identifier is used to identify the correct rolling key to decrypt the encrypted stored value is read at S210. The identified rolling key is then used to decrypt the value stored on the cash device at S212. Once the stored credit value is decrypted, the credit value is loaded to the gaming machine. The encrypted information is, after decryption, compared to predetermined criteria to determine whether the gaming machine is to be enabled for play. The criteria may be just the identification of a valid card, if cash has already been placed into the gaming machine, or if a player is to be given an opportunity to insert cash into the machine, as discussed below. Alternatively, the criteria may include a minimum credit value held on the cash device before play is enabled, as discussed below.
  • In general, a player is issued with cash device on entry to the club or casino; this may be an anonymous device or registered at the membership kiosk by filling out a membership application form. A player uses one of the provided automated cash dispensers discussed in relation to FIG. 1 a to transfer cash to the cash device. The player pre-loads the cash device with sum of money at the automated cash dispenser by inserting coins or notes into an appropriate Validator. This credit value is stored in the cash device and a copy is also stored at the central server. The cash dispenser makes use of the appropriate time-stamped encryption key, received from the central server to encrypt the credit value added to the cash device, which is then sent to the cash device using a non-contact reader/writer. If the automated cash dispenser does not have the appropriate key to encrypt the credit value to be placed on the card, the dispenser queries the central module SAM1 to find the appropriate key to encrypt the credit value with before updating the cash device with the appropriate encrypted data.
  • On approaching a gaming machine a player places the cash device near the gaming machine target (antenna) and this automatically logs the player onto that gaming machine. The player selects a cash amount to load to the gaming machine on a keyboard in the gaming machine before placing the cash device on the gaming machine. Once cash is inserted into the gaming machine, play begins as normal, this continues until a player wishes to leave the gaming machine.
  • If no play occurs within a pre-determined time and the machine credits are below a pre-determined limit the player is logged off the gaming machine. If the player presses the collect button on the gaming machine the credits left on the gaming machine are prepared to be transferred to the cash device and a prompt is issued to the player to place their cash device near the gaming machine target (antenna 162) at which time all credits are transferred back to the cash device. If the cash device is not presented within a pre-determined time limit then the transaction is rolled back and all credits returned to gaming machine. All transactions are logged by the gaming machine and transferred to the central server.
  • A player may also cash-out the cash device credits at an automated cash dispenser or at a cashier terminal. The automated cash dispensers can decrypt the cash device credit value data in the same way as the gaming machines. However, if the time-stamped key with which the credit value was encrypted is no longer held in the dispenser security access module, the dispenser can reconcile the credit value directly with the central server.
  • The cashier terminals do not have time-stamp encryption key holding security access modules, and so will always query the central server when presented with a cash device.
  • By using such an operational method, embodiments of the invention provides a secure method of cash handling removing the requirement for staff to be involved in coin note collections. Also, all cash float is removed from the gaming room floor. The system provides enhanced security because all cash is held in a security safe device. Additionally, the cash-out procedures can be automated, and no cash counting required, so reducing staffing requirements. Reconciliation and report generation can be carried out automatically and when required. The reduced security risk of the extra security should lower insurance premiums.
  • As well as that described above, it is also possible that no cash is initially added to the cash device when it is given to the player.
  • If no cash is initially loaded onto the cash device, on approaching a gaming machine a player places the cash device near the gaming machine target (antenna 162) and this automatically logs the player onto that gaming machine. A player is able to insert coin, tokens or bank notes into a gaming machine using a note/coin Validator provided on the gaming machine. If no cash is inserted into the gaming machine within a pre-defined time limit the player is automatically logged off that machine. Once cash is inserted into the machine play can begin as normal, this can continue until a player wishes to leave the machine. If no play occurs within a pre-determined time and the gaming machine credits are below a pre-determined limit the player is logged off. If the player presses the collect button on the gaming machine the credits left on the machine are prepared to be transferred to the gaming machine and a prompt is issued to the player to place their cash device near the gaming machine target and all credits are transferred to the cash device. The reader transfers the value to the module SAM2, which encrypts it using the third most recently received rolling key. This encrypted value is then sent to the cash device and stored. If the cash device is not presented within a pre-determined time limit then the transaction is rolled back and all credits returned to the gaming machine.
  • A player can transfer credits from the cash device to a further gaming machine by pressing the LOAD button on the gaming machine and placing the cash device near the gaming machine reader. The credits on the cash device are transferred to the gaming machine and then to the gaming machine module SAM2. All or some of the credit value held on the cash device can be transferred to the gaming machine as desired by a player. The gaming machine module SAM2 references the rolling key used to encrypt the data at the last gaming machine, or automated cash dispenser, by querying the time-stamp, which is encrypted using the cash device fixed key. If the time-stamp corresponds to one of the stored rolling keys in the module SAM2, then the value is decrypted using that key. A reader can decrypt a credit value stored on a cash device between the most recent rolling key and the depth of the FIFO buffer. The credit value is then transferred from the cash device to the gaming machine by updating the cash device value to reflect the chosen reduction of value transferred to the gaming machine. If this transaction fails, the player is prompted to place the cash device near the gaming machine target and the transaction is rolled back to the cash device. All transactions are logged by the gaming machine and transferred to the central server. If no rolling key is available for the timestamp given to the value held on the cash device, then the value will not be available for transfer to the gaming machine, and the credit value can only be redeemed at a cashier terminal, which is connected to the central server. The credit value can be redeemed as the central server central module SAM1 holds all keys, not just the most recent. Transactions for keys removed from the gaming machine modules SAM2 will have been reconciled, and so the credit value held on the cash device, and that the credit value remains outstanding will be known before the cash device is presented at the cashier terminal. Any discrepancy will therefore be noticed and can be investigated.
  • Even before the end of the period in which the rolling key used to encrypt a credit value is valid, a player may cash-out the cash device credits at an automated cash dispenser or at a cashier terminal. Reconciliation can then be carried out during pay out, or can be deferred, with the credit value held on the cash device being taken as an accurate reflection of the credit value transferred from the gaming machines at the end of play.
  • Because the actual credit value of funds available to a player is held by the cash device, rather than the cash device holding an identifier that is referred back to a central server to give the credit value, the bandwidth of transmission across the network is substantially reduced. Additionally, reconciliation does not have to be carried out in real time for the system to operate. It is possible for the network to be completely removed for periods of time, i.e. the connection is intermittently functional to connect the gaming machines to the central server. The gaming machines will still function when acting in offline mode because actual credit value can still be transferred between gaming machines and cash devices without any central input from the central server. The gaming machines can store transaction data ready to be uploaded to the central server once the network connection is regained, so that reconciliation can then be carried out.
  • The present invention has been described above purely by way of example and alterations, omissions and modifications can be made, such modifications, omissions and alterations also falling within the spirit and scope of the invention. The present invention has been described above with the aid of functional building blocks illustrating the performance of specified functions and relationships thereof. The functional building blocks have been arbitrarily defined herein while describing embodiments of the invention. Alternate definitions can be defined so long as the specified functions and relationships thereof are maintained. The invention extends to any such alternate definitions. It will be seen that the functional building blocks can be implemented by application specific integrated circuits, discrete components, processors executing appropriate software and the like or any combination thereof.

Claims (23)

  1. 1. A gaming machine including:
    a reader to read data representing encrypted information, including credit value information and unique identification information, from a player held device;
    a connection component to connect to a remote central server, the connection component being operable to receive updated time-stamped keys from the remote central server;
    a storage component to store a preset number of received time-stamped encryption keys in a first in first out format;
    a decryption component to decrypt the encrypted credit value information using one of the time-stamped encryption keys stored in the storage component;
    an encryption component to re-encrypt information including updated credit value information; and
    a writer to write data representing the re-encrypted information to the player held device identified by the identification information.
  2. 2. A gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the reader and writer are non-contact devices.
  3. 3. A gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the reader and the writer are the same device.
  4. 4. A gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the connection component is intermittently operable to connect the gaming machine to the remote server.
  5. 5. A gaming machine according to claim 1, wherein the identification information includes a time-stamp identifier.
  6. 6. A method according to claim 5, wherein the decryption component uses the time-stamp identifier to determine which of the preset number of stored time-stamped keys is used to decrypt the credit value information.
  7. 7. A gaming machine system including a plurality of gaming machines according to any one of the preceding claims, and a central server, connected, at least intermittently, to each gaming machine via the respective connection component of each gaming machine.
  8. 8. A gaming machine system according to claim 7, the central server further including a database to store all previously issued time-stamped keys.
  9. 9. A gaming machine system according to claim 8, wherein the central server is able to decrypt encrypted information, including credit value information, from a player held device, using time-stamped encryption keys no longer held in the respective storage components of the gaming machines.
  10. 10. A method of operating a gaming machine, the method including:
    receiving data representing information, including encrypted credit value information and identification information, from a cash device using a reader;
    decrypting the credit value information using one of a preset number of stored time-stamped keys, the stored time-stamped keys being stored in a first in first out format and having been updated sequentially from a remote central server;
    enabling the gaming machine for play by the player if the credit value information has been successfully decrypted and the received information meets predetermined criteria to allow play on the gaming machine;
    encrypting updated information, including updated credit value information, with one of the stored time-stamped keys, on enablement of the gaming machine for play; and
    and writing data representing the encrypted updated information to the cash device.
  11. 11. A method according to claim 10, wherein the gaming machine is connected to the remote central server to sequentially receive time-stamped keys to be stored in first in first out format.
  12. 12. A method according to claim 10, wherein the gaming machine is intermittently connected to the remote central server.
  13. 13. A method according to claim 10, wherein the predetermined criteria include a minimum credit value held on the cash device.
  14. 14. A method according to claim 10, further including the gaming machine receiving money from a player and incorporating value of the received money into the updated credit value information.
  15. 15. A method according to claim 10, further including encrypting further updated information using one of the time-stamped keys stored in the gaming machine at the time of encryption of the further updated information at the end of a player session on the gaming machine.
  16. 16. A method according to claim 15, wherein the further updated information includes updated credit value information.
  17. 17. A method according to claim 15, wherein the encrypted further updated information is written back to the cash device.
  18. 18. A method according to claim 17, wherein the encrypted further updated information is written back to the cash device only after the gaming machine has confirmed the identification information from the cash device and that the same cash device has been presented to the gaming machine on writing both the updated information and further updated information.
  19. 19. A method according to claim 10, wherein the identification information is encrypted and is decrypted using a fixed key held in the storage component.
  20. 20. A method according to claim 19, wherein the identification information includes a time-stamp identifier encrypted with a fixed key.
  21. 21. A method according to claim 20, wherein the time-stamp identifier is used to determine which of the preset number of stored time-stamped keys is used to decrypt the credit value information.
  22. 22. A method according to claim 20, further including writing a revised time-stamp identifier to the cash device whenever updated or further information is written to the cash device, the time-stamp identifier being encrypted with a fixed key.
  23. 23. A carrier medium carrying processor readable code to control a processor to carry out the method of claim 7.
US11232630 2005-09-22 2005-09-22 Cashless gaming system and method Abandoned US20070066398A1 (en)

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US20080153567A1 (en) * 2005-07-28 2008-06-26 Scott Juds Vending machine having a game of chance
US20070060326A1 (en) * 2005-08-31 2007-03-15 Idx, Inc. Method of cashless gaming and player tracking
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US9717992B2 (en) 2006-03-20 2017-08-01 Sony Interactive Entertainment America Llc Invalidating network devices with illicit peripherals
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US8972364B2 (en) 2006-03-20 2015-03-03 Sony Computer Entertainment America Llc Defining new rules for validation of network devices
US8771061B2 (en) 2006-03-20 2014-07-08 Sony Computer Entertainment America Llc Invalidating network devices with illicit peripherals
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US8626710B2 (en) 2006-03-20 2014-01-07 Sony Computer Entertainment America Llc Defining new rules for validation of network devices
US8622837B2 (en) 2006-03-20 2014-01-07 Sony Computer Entertainment America Llc Managing game metrics and authorizations
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WO2008039848A2 (en) * 2006-09-26 2008-04-03 Walker Digital, Llc Providing and redeeming partial wagering game outcomes
WO2008039848A3 (en) * 2006-09-26 2008-12-04 Walker Digital Llc Providing and redeeming partial wagering game outcomes
US20080102935A1 (en) * 2006-10-30 2008-05-01 Finnimore Ian P Unidentified Player Tracking System and Related Methods
US9892592B2 (en) * 2006-10-30 2018-02-13 Bally Gaming, Inc. Unidentified player tracking system and related methods
US20090181777A1 (en) * 2008-01-14 2009-07-16 Michael Gerard Christiani Network computer game linked to real-time financial data
US20090233696A1 (en) * 2008-03-13 2009-09-17 Richard Dominguez Offline payout system and method
US20110098106A1 (en) * 2009-10-28 2011-04-28 Chao He System and method of managing casino patron money balances
US9251642B2 (en) * 2009-10-28 2016-02-02 Ncr Corporation System and method of managing casino patron money balances
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US10092845B2 (en) 2010-11-02 2018-10-09 Sony Interactive Entertainment America Llc Detecting lag switch cheating in game
US9246886B2 (en) * 2010-12-03 2016-01-26 Novamatic Ag Device for and method of handling sensitive data
US20130339739A1 (en) * 2010-12-03 2013-12-19 Novomatic Ag Device for and method of handling sensitive data
US20120331284A1 (en) * 2011-06-23 2012-12-27 Microsoft Corporation Media Agnostic, Distributed, and Defendable Data Retention
US9711004B1 (en) 2012-04-02 2017-07-18 Gary E. Ellis Credit wagering system and method of use

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