US20080102918A1 - System and method for playing a game of chance having a base game and a bonus game - Google Patents

System and method for playing a game of chance having a base game and a bonus game Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080102918A1
US20080102918A1 US11/976,704 US97670407A US2008102918A1 US 20080102918 A1 US20080102918 A1 US 20080102918A1 US 97670407 A US97670407 A US 97670407A US 2008102918 A1 US2008102918 A1 US 2008102918A1
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player
bonus
game
prize
secret combination
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US11/976,704
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Michael Campagno
Jeffrey Schwartz
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Vegas Vault LLP
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Vegas Vault LLP
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Priority to US11/976,704 priority patent/US20080102918A1/en
Assigned to VEGAS VAULT LLP reassignment VEGAS VAULT LLP ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: CAMPAGNO, MICHAEL, SCHWARTZ, JEFFREY
Publication of US20080102918A1 publication Critical patent/US20080102918A1/en
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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
    • G07F17/3258Cumulative reward schemes, e.g. jackpots
    • 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

Embodiments of the invention include method and system for providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance over a plurality of gaming locations. The bonus game is associated with a vault including a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements. A player is qualified to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance. An input device is provided to be presented to the player, wherein the player inputs a guess at the secret combination. The player guess at the secret combination is then received through the input device and a determination is won as to whether the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e)(1) to provisional application No. 60/854,720, filed Oct. 27, 2006.
  • FIELD OF INVENTION
  • This invention relates generally to playing a bonus game of chance and more particularly to a method and system for playing a game of chance that offers bonus prizes.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Games of chance have been enjoyed by people for thousands of years and have especially grown in popularity over the past few decades. The growth of the gaming industry in places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City and development of large casinos and resorts have helped attract tourists from all over the world. As in most industries, however, the gaming industry has seen fierce competition amongst the casinos to attract customers. This has led many of the larger casinos to provide a wide range of entertainment attractions, such as concerts, magic shows, and even theme parks, in order to draw players to their gaming locations.
  • One marketing method used by casinos to draw players is by providing bonus games such as progressive jackpots in conjunction with their casino games that allow any player, even those playing on low-wager slot machines, to win large amounts of money. Players involved in games of wagering often enjoy playing the games with relatively simple rules with a chance of winning very large cash prizes. One such bonus game, for example, that has been implemented in some casinos is a game of wheel of fortune, where a player playing a game of video poker or alike can participate in the bonus game by spinning a wheel, according to which the player may win additional bonus prizes.
  • In many instances, the bonus prizes are progressive jackpots, where a percentage of every player's wager is contributed to the bonus prize. Although many players are attracted to such games because of the chance of winning a large prize, many others find objectionable having to contribute to a jackpot that they have little chances of winning. Accordingly, in many casinos and taverns, the owners pay the bonus prize purely as an incentive to players, without seeking direct player contribution to the bonus prize.
  • A problem with this promotion method, however, is that large casinos can afford to pay out large cash bonus prizes, leaving smaller taverns and casinos unable to compete. For example, while larger bonus prizes exceeding $50,000 are being paid in many of the large casinos in Las Vegas, most small taverns in Nevada cannot afford to pay bonus prizes larger than $1,000. As a result, smaller taverns and casinos may be losing their local customers to large casinos. Accordingly, there is a need for a gaming system and method that would enable smaller casinos to payout large bonus prizes in order to compete with the larger casinos in attracting players.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In order solve the problems associated with the conventional gaming promotion methods, embodiments of present invention comprises a gaming system and method for providing a bonus game in conjunction games of chance.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, there is provided a method for providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance over a plurality of gaming locations, the bonus game being associated with a vault comprising a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements, the method including: qualifying a player to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance; providing an input device to be presented to the player, wherein the player inputs a guess at the secret combination; receiving the player guess at the secret combination through the input device; and determining if the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.
  • In an further embodiment of the invention, the player is qualified to participate in the bonus game if the player meets a minimum wager requirement in the base game. In an exemplary embodiment, the input device is activated for entry of one guess at the secret combination and deactivated after receiving the player guess at the secret combination. In an exemplary embodiment, an element of the secret combination is revealed periodically to increase the probability of satisfaction of the matching criteria.
  • In one embodiment of the invention, an amount of the bonus prize may increase periodically and be reset to an initial value after the bonus prize is won. The amount of the bonus prize may be increased by a predetermined amount at predetermined time periods, where the predetermined time periods include at least one of daily, weekly, or monthly, and the predetermined amount includes at least one of five percent, ten percent, or twenty percent of the initial value.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the matching criteria is defined in terms of a number of elements of the secret combination that must match the player guess or an order in which the elements of the secret combination must match the player guess. In an exemplary embodiment, the matching criteria may include correctly guessing every element of the secret combination in sequence, correctly guessing every element of the secret combination in any order, correctly guessing a portion of the secret combination in sequence, or correctly guessing a portion of the secret combination in any order.
  • In an further embodiment of the invention, the prize includes a first prize being associated with a first matching criteria and a second prize being associated with a second matching criteria. The second prize may include a smaller amount than the larger prize and the second matching criteria may have a higher probability of satisfaction than the first matching criteria. In an exemplary embodiment, both the first and the second prizes are reset if the first prize is won based on the first matching criteria, but only the second prize is reset if the second prize is won based on the second matching criteria.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the bonus game is financed by keeping a count of the number of guesses taken at the secret combination at each of the one or more gaming locations within a predetermined time period and receiving an amount of contribution from the respective gaming location based on the count.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gaming system for providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance over a plurality of gaming locations, the bonus game is associated with a vault comprising a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements, the system including: a central bonus mainframe coupled to a plurality of local computers at the plurality of gaming locations, each of the plurality of local computers being coupled to a plurality of game stations within the respective gaming location and being adapted to qualify a player to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance; and a plurality of input devices, each provided within one of the gaming locations, each input device being coupled to the central bonus mainframe through a network and being adapted to receive a player guess at the secret combination from the player. The central bonus mainframe determines if the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the game stations include slot machines embodying a game of video poker and the winning criterion includes at least one of a three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, a four of a kind, a straight flush, or a royal flush.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the system further includes a plurality of output interfaces provided within the gaming locations, each output device being coupled to the central bonus mainframe and being adapted to display at least one of a machine ID or a machine location of the game station on which a player qualifies to participate in the bonus game. The input device is activated for one guess at the secret combination and again deactivated after receipt of the player guess at the secret combination from the player. In an exemplary embodiment, the input device includes a portable pad adapted to be presented to the player to input the player guess at the secret combination.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the system also includes a plurality of display screens, each provided on one of plurality of game stations, the display screen being adapted to display at least one of information about the bonus game, a current bonus prize amount, or information about the secret combination.
  • According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of promoting gaming, comprising: providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance over a plurality of gaming locations, the bonus game being associated with a vault comprising a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements; qualifying a player to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance; providing an input device to be presented to the player, wherein the player inputs a guess at the secret combination; receiving the player guess at the secret combination through the input device; and determining if the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.
  • Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description of the drawings which follows, when considered with the attached figures.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 shows an exemplary block diagram of a system for managing and operating a bonus game throughout a plurality of gaming locations in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 depicts a block diagram of the association between a plurality of promoters, vaults, and gaming locations, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 3 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention, in which each vault is associated with one or more gaming locations.
  • FIG. 4 depicts a system of operation of a bonus game of chance within a single gaming location, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 5 depicts an exemplary association of the various bonus prizes with a secret combination of a vault, according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 6 depicts a exemplary process flow chart for operating the base game in a gaming location in conjunction with the bonus game, according to an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 7 depicts an exemplary process flow chart for playing the bonus game after the player has qualified.
  • FIG. 8 depicts an exemplary process flow chart for awarding the bonus prizes after a player has correctly guessed the secret combination.
  • FIGS. 9A-9E show an exemplary embodiment of a secret combination having one element revealed periodically, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
  • Embodiments of the invention are discussed in detail below. In describing embodiments, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. However, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected. While exemplary embodiments are discussed in this description, it should be understood that this is done so for purposes of illustration only. A person of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other methods and configurations can be adopted without parting from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
  • Turning now to the drawings and referring initially to FIG. 1, there is shown an exemplary system for managing and operating a bonus game over a gaming network 100 throughout a plurality of gaming locations in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In an exemplary embodiment, the network 100 involves a plurality of gaming locations (1 to N), each including one or more base games of chance (G1 to Gn), and a central bonus mainframe 10. A promoter operating the central bonus mainframe 10 offers the bonus game of chance as an incentives for players to play the base games of chance (G1 to Gn) at the gaming locations. Each of the gaming locations (1-N) may also include a local computer 20, which is securely coupled to the central bonus mainframe 10 though a network such as, for example, the Internet. The central bonus mainframe 10 operates a bonus game of chance in association with the gaming locations (1 to N). A player attending one of the gaming locations (1 to N) may qualify to participate in the bonus game of chance if they play one of the base games of chance (G1 to Gn) and meet a certain winning criteria. In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a promoter may operate the bonus game from a single location without utilizing the central bonus mainframe 10.
  • FIG. 2 depicts a block diagram of the association between a plurality of promoters, vaults, and gaming locations, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention. An exemplary embodiment of the present invention including one or more promoters (P1-Pn), each promoter managing and operating one or more bonus games of chance. Each bonus game of chance is associated with a vault (V1-Vn). As defined herein, a vault comprises one or more prizes, for example, a cash prize. A vault can be opened for accessing the one or more cash prizes by winning a corresponding bonus game. For example, the vault might correspond to a bonus game of a secret combination, where a player can open the vault and win one or more of the vault prizes by correctly guessing all or a portion of the secret combination. In an exemplary embodiment, each vault (V1-Vn) is associated with a group of gaming locations (L1-Ln), (L′1-L′n), etc., respectively, and each vault (V1-Vn) is associated with a secret combination that allows a player to open the vault, i.e., to win the bonus game of chance associated with the vault and thereby win the contents of the vault.
  • FIG. 3 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention, in which each vault (V1-Vn) is associated with one or more gaming locations (L1-Ln). Each gaming location (L1-Ln), in turn, is associate with one or more vaults (V1-Vn). In this embodiment, the gaming locations may operate multiple bonus games of chance in conjunction with multiple vaults (V1-Vn). For example, as depicted in FIG. 3, location L2 operates two bonus games of chance associated with V1 and V2.
  • FIG. 4 depicts a system of operation of a bonus game of chance within a single gaming location, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention. In an exemplary embodiment, the local computer 20 within a gaming location is connected to one or more game stations 22, an information input device 24, and an information output device 26. The game station 22 operates a base game that the player plays in order to qualify for participation in the bonus game. In one exemplary embodiment, the game station 22 is a machine running a game of video poker. However, game stations running various games of chance such as, e.g., classic 777 Heaven, Magic Wheel, Wheel of Fortune, etc. may also be used in embodiments of the invention. Further, the base game of chance in embodiments of the invention may include live casino games, such as a live game of blackjack or poker, allowing a player to qualify for the bonus game upon the player meeting a certain winning criteria that is game-dependent.
  • In an exemplary embodiment, the input device 24 may be a keyboard or a pad containing digits, numbers, or other symbols that can be entered sequentially. The connection between the local computer 20 and the input device 24 may be wired or wireless. The output device 26 may be a printer, a monitor, or any other output device.
  • According to an embodiment of the invention, a player playing a base game on a game station 22 qualifies to participate in the bonus game by meeting a certain winning criteria. For example, the winning criteria for a game of video poker may be set to a four of a kind. Thus, when a player playing on a base station 22 operating a game of video poker hits a four of a kind, the player becomes eligible to play the bonus game. In some embodiments of the present invention, in addition to meeting the winning criteria, a minimum wager in the base game may be required in order for the player to qualify for the bonus game.
  • According to one embodiment, the bonus game is associated with a vault that includes at lease one cash prize that can be won by correctly guessing a secret combination. A secret combination is uniquely associated with the vault and includes a plurality of elements, e.g., digits, letter, or other symbols. When a player meets the winning criteria on the base game 22 and qualifies to play the bonus game, he is presented with the opportunity to guess the secret combination. In an exemplary embodiment, the secret combination has six elements comprising digits in the range of 0 to 9. The qualified player is presented with an input device for entry of digits 0 through 9. The player can guess the combination by entering the digits one at a time on the input device. If the entered combination matches the secret combination, the player wins a bonus prize from the vault associated with that secret combination.
  • In some embodiments of the present invention, the input device 24 presented to the player may be a keypad comprising a plurality of digits, letters or symbols. In other embodiments, the input devices may be implemented on or adjacent to the game station, allowing the qualifying player to input the combination directly from the game station.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, the vault comprises two types of bonus prizes—a grand prize and a consolation prize. Both the grand prize and the consolation prize start at a minimum prize and are progressively increased as the game continues. The amount of the grand prize is typically higher than the amount of the consolation prize. In one embodiment, the increases are periodic, for example, once a week. In an exemplary embodiment, the grand prize starts at $50,000 and the consolation prize starts at $20,000. Also, in an exemplary embodiment, the grand prize is increased by $10,000 and the consolation prize is increased by $5,000 every week. It should be noted that the grand prize and consolation prize do not have to increase concurrently. One prize could be increased according to one period and the other according to another period. The central bonus mainframe 10 is responsible for keeping account of the various prizes in the vault. When any of the prizes are won, that prize is reset to its starting value.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, as depicted in FIG. 4, the game station 22 comprises a display screen 27 which displays the updated amount of the various bonus prizes. For instance, in the exemplary embodiment discussed above, the display screen 27 displays the amount of the grand prize and the consolation prize. In a further embodiment, the display screen 27 may be configured to display a message to the player upon the player qualifying to play the bonus game, alerting him to wait until he is presented with the input device. In a further embodiment, the display screen 27 may be configured to display a congratulatory message to the player upon the player winning a bonus prize by guessing the correct secret combination.
  • According to one embodiment of the invention, when a player meets the winning criteria for the base game, the game station 22 notifies the local computer 20 that a player has qualified to participate in the bonus game. The local computer 20 outputs information such as the location or ID of the winning game station to the output interface 26, which may be a printer, a monitor, or other means of outputting the information. An attendant then reviews the information and takes the input device 24 over to the game station matching the location or the ID of the winning game station, where the player inputs his guess at the secret combination on the input device 24. In another embodiment, each game station 22 may comprise an input device (not shown in the figure), allowing the player to input his guess at the secret combination directly on the game station, without the need for an attendant physically presenting the input device to the player.
  • Still another embodiment of the present invention comprises a siren 28 connected to the game station 22 that sounds upon the player qualifying to play the bonus game. The siren notifies the surrounding crowd, as well as an attendant, that a player has qualified to play the bonus game. The attendant then brings the input device 24 to the game station 22, allowing the player to input his guess at the secret combination on the input device 24. The siren 28 may also be implemented with other embodiments of the present invention to attract or alert the surrounding crowd and the attendant when a player qualifies to play the bonus game.
  • Referring to FIG. 5, there is depicted an exemplary association of the various bonus prizes with a secret combination of a vault, according to an embodiment of the invention. In an exemplary embodiment, each vault includes at least one bonus prize and at least one secret combination. Each secret combination is associated with one or more bonus prizes. In the exemplary embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, grand prize 1 and consolation prize 1 are associated with secret combination 1, grand prize N and consolation prize N are associated with secret combination N, and so on. For each association of a bonus prize and a secret combination, there is designated a combination matching criteria. The combination matching criteria identifies the circumstances under which the player's guess at the combination constitutes a winning of the bonus prize. For example, in shown in FIG. 5, the GP combination matching criteria 1 could be “entering all six digits correctly in sequential order,” whereas the CP combination matching criteria 1 could be “entering five of the six digits correctly in sequential order.” Another example of the CP combination matching criteria 1 could be “entering all six digits correctly in any order.”
  • In an embodiment of the present invention, the elements of the combination may be given any order. A player can win the grand prize by correctly guessing every element of the secret combination in a sequential order. Alternatively, a player who fails to guess every element of the secret combination may still win the consolation prize if he correctly guesses a portion of the sequence of the secret combination. For example, in the above exemplary embodiment where the secret combination is six elements comprising digits from 0 to 9, the player may win the grand prize by correctly guessing all 6 elements of the secret combination in correct order. However, even if the player does not guess the right combination of the grand prize, he can still win the consolation prize if he correctly guesses 5 of the 6 elements in correct order.
  • FIG. 6 depicts a exemplary process flow chart for operating the base game in a gaming location in conjunction with the bonus game, according to an embodiment of the invention. The process begins by receiving a player wager at a game station in order to play the base game, block 30. The base game is then executed on the game station, block 32. Thereafter, a determination is made as to whether the player wins or loses according to the rules of the base game, block 34. For example, in a game of video poker, a player may win by hitting 2 pair, 3 of a king, straight, 4 of a kind, etc. This determination is made based on a set of winning criteria of the base game. If the player wins the base game, the amount of winnings are awarded or credited to the player, block 36. Otherwise the player continues playing the base game, block 30.
  • If the player wins the base game, he or she may then qualify to play the bonus game. In an exemplary embodiment, one or more of the winning criteria of the base game is selected for qualifying the player for the bonus game. For example, in a game of video poker, the winning criteria for the bonus game may be a four of a kind or better. After the player has been credited with the winnings for the base game, a determination is made as to whether the player has met the bonus game winning criteria, block 38. In a further embodiment of the invention, in addition to satisfying the winning criteria of the bonus game, the player may also have to satisfy a minimum wager amount in order to qualify for the bonus game. If met, the player is qualified to participate in the bonus game, as depicted in the exemplary process A of FIG. 7, block 40. For example, in a game of video poker the player may participate in the bonus game in addition to winning credits awarded by the base game itself by meeting the winning criteria of a four of a kind for the bonus game as well as meeting a minimum wager requirement if there is one. If the player doesn't qualify for the bonus game, the base game continues, block 30.
  • FIG. 7 depicts an exemplary process flow chart for playing the bonus game after the player has qualified. The local computer determines the machine ID of the game station on which the player has qualified to play the bonus game, block 41. The local computer then outputs the machine ID to the output interface in order to notify an attendant of a qualifying player, block 42. Simultaneously, the local computer activates the input device to receive a single guess at the secret combination, block 43. The input device is then presented to the player at the game station matching the machine ID, and the player's guess at the secret combination is received through the input device, block 44. Thereafter, a determination is made as to whether the player's guess at the secret combination matches any of the winning combinations, block 45. In an exemplary embodiment, a prize is won if the player correctly guesses all six digits of the secret combination in correct sequence for a grand prize or five of the six digits in correct sequence for a consolation prize. If the player's guess is not a winner, the player is alerter that no bonus' have been won, block 46. If the player's guess matches the winning combination, the player is awarded a prize as depicted in the exemplary process of FIG. 8, block 50. Notwithstanding whether the player wins or loses any bonus prizes, the input device is deactivated after one input by the user so that the user is given only one shot at guessing the combination, block 47.
  • FIG. 8 depicts an exemplary process flow chart for awarding the bonus prizes after a player has correctly guessed the secret combination. After the player guesses the combination, a determination is made as to whether the player has won the grand prize, block 51. If the grand prize is won, the player is awarded the grand prize, block 52. In one embodiment, the attendant may take the player's information and submit the information to the promoter, who then delivers the prize to the player. In another embodiment, the gaming location may pay the player the amount of the winning prize and later be reimbursed for that amount by the promoter. Thereafter, the amount of both the grand prize and the consolation prize are reset to their original amount, block 53.
  • If the grand prize is not won, a determination is made as to whether the player has won the consolation prize, block 54. If no consolation prize is won, the player is notified that he did not win a prize, block 55. If the consolation prize is won, the player is awarded the consolation prize, block 56. Thereafter, the amount of the consolation prize is reset to its original amount, block 57. If either the grand prize or the consolation prize is won, a new secret combination is generated, block 58. The winnings and new secret combination is also communicated with all other gaming locations, block 59.
  • In another embodiment, if the grand prize is won, only the grand prize is reset and the consolation prize continues to progress, in which case the new value of the grand prize may be lower than the value of the consolation prize. In some cases, it may be desirable to always maintain a larger grand prize than the consolation prize. Therefore, some embodiments of the present invention may be configured to switch to the amounts of the grand prize and consolation whenever the consolation prize exceeds the value of the grand prize. In a further embodiment, the present invention may be configured to make adjustments to the amounts of the grand prize and the consolation prize if the amount of the grand prize substantially exceeds the amount of the consolation prize. In yet another embodiment, the promoter is allowed to modify the amounts of the prizes.
  • According to one embodiment of the present invention, it may be desired to reveal one component of the secret combination periodically in order to increase player interest in the game by making it easier for the players to correctly guess the secret combination. FIGS. 9A-9E show an exemplary embodiment of a secret combination having one element revealed periodically, according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention. FIG. 9A depicts an exemplary embodiment where the secret combination comprises a 6-element code consisting of elements (a1) through (a6). As shown in FIG. 9B, when the secret combination is first generated, all the six elements of the secret combination are concealed. One element of the combination may be revealed after a predefined period, e.g. one month, dropping the odds of winning the grand prize. FIG. 9C depicts an example where element (a1) has been revealed after the first month. Similarly, a second element can be revealed after the second month, increasing the odds of winning the grand prize even further. FIG. 9D depicts an example where element (a3) has been revealed after the second month. Further, a third element can be revealed after the third month, increasing the winning odds still further. FIG. 9E depicts an example where element (a4) has been revealed after the third month. Under this arrangement, in each month the players have a better chance of winning the grand prize or the consolation prize than the previous month. However, once either of the bonus prizes is won, a new secret combination is generated, the new combination having all its elements concealed.
  • There are various methods of financing the bonus prize. In one embodiment, financing is provided by keeping a count of the number of guesses that have been taken at the vault's secret combination within a certain period at each location. This function can be handled by the local computer 20, the input device 24, or other means of keeping account of the number of guesses taken at the secret combination. Alternatively, each gaming station 22 may include a counter that keeps track of the number of times a guess at the secret combination has been taken from that game station within a given period. Based on the count from each game station, the total number of guesses at the secret combination for that location is calculated at the end of the period. Then, at the end of each period, each location will contribute money to the vault based the number of guesses taken within that location. In an exemplary embodiment, the owner of a gaming location may agree to contribute a certain amount. For example, per guess to the bonus prize. If two hundred players qualify for the bonus game within a month, that location has to contribute accordingly to the vault at the end of that month.
  • The vault provides incentives for owners of gaming locations to participate in the promotion plan in various ways. Primarily, the vault provides such incentive by drawing large crowds to these locations in hopes of winning the large vault prizes. In the embodiment where a component of the combination is revealed periodically, players have relatively good odds of winning large prizes as the game progresses without a winning guess. Therefore, large crowds can be attracted to the gaming locations that allow them to participate in the bonus game.
  • In one embodiment, a further incentive is provided for the owners of gaming locations to participate in the promotion plan. When a player wins a vault prize, the gaming location where the prize was won is awarded an additional percentage of the prize won. In an exemplary embodiment, for each prize won at a gaming location, that gaming location is awarded thirty percent of the amount of the prize as an additional bonus. This provides a further incentive to the owners of gaming locations to participate in the promotion plan and implement the bonus game within their gaming locations.

Claims (20)

1. A method of providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with one or more base games of chance over one or more gaming locations, the bonus game being associated with a vault comprising a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements, the method comprising:
qualifying a player to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance;
providing an input device to be presented to the player, wherein the player inputs a guess at the secret combination;
receiving the player guess at the secret combination through the input device; and
determining if the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.
2. The gaming method of claim 1, further comprising:
qualifying the player to participate in the bonus game if the player meets a minimum wager requirement in the base game.
3. The gaming method of claim 1, wherein the receiving the player guess comprises:
activating the input device for entry of one guess at the secret combination; and
deactivating the input device after receiving the player guess at the secret combination.
4. The gaming method of claim 1, further comprising:
increasing an amount of the bonus prize periodically; and
resetting the bonus prize to an initial value after the bonus prize is won.
5. The gaming method of claim 4, wherein the increasing an amount step includes increasing the amount of the bonus prize by a predetermined amount at predetermined time periods.
6. The gaming method of claim 1, further comprising:
defining the matching criteria in terms of at least one of a number of elements of the secret combination that must match the player guess or an order in which the elements of the secret combination must match the player guess.
7. The gaming method of claim 6, wherein the matching criteria comprises at least one of:
correctly guessing every element of the secret combination in sequence,
correctly guessing every element of the secret combination in any order,
correctly guessing a portion of the secret combination in sequence, or
correctly guessing a portion of the secret combination in any order.
8. The gaming method of claim 1, further comprising revealing an element of the secret combination periodically to increase the probability of satisfaction of the matching criteria.
9. The gaming method of claim 1, wherein the at least one prize comprises a first prize being associated with a first matching criteria and a second prize being associated with a second matching criteria.
10. The gaming method of claim 9, wherein the second prize includes a smaller amount than the larger prize and the second matching criteria has a higher probability of satisfaction than the first matching criteria.
11. The gaming method of claim 10, wherein the step of determining if a prize is won comprising:
resetting both the first and the second prizes if the first prize is won based on the first matching criteria; and
resetting only the second prize if the second prize is won based on the second matching criteria.
12. The gaming method of claim 1, further comprising:
keeping a count of the number of guesses taken at the secret combination at each of the one or more gaming locations within a predetermined time period; and
receiving an amount of contribution from the respective gaming location based on the count.
13. A gaming system for providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance over a plurality of gaming locations, the bonus game being associated with a vault comprising a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements, the system comprising:
a central bonus mainframe coupled to a plurality of local computers at the plurality of gaming locations, each of the plurality of local computers being coupled to a plurality of game stations within the respective gaming location and being adapted to qualify a player to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance; and
a plurality of input devices, each provided within one of the gaming locations, each input device being coupled to the central bonus mainframe through a network and being adapted to receive a player guess at the secret combination from the player;
wherein the central bonus mainframe determines if the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.
14. The gaming system of claim 13, wherein the at least one game station comprises a slot machine embodying a game of video poker and the at least one winning criterion comprises at least one of a three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, a four of a kind, a straight flush, or a royal flush.
15. The gaming system of claim 13, further comprising a plurality of output interfaces provided within the gaming locations, each output device being coupled to the central bonus mainframe and being adapted to display at least one of a machine ID or a machine location of the game station on which a player qualifies to participate in the bonus game.
16. The gaming system of claim 13, wherein the input device is activated for one guess at the secret combination and again deactivated after receipt of the player guess at the secret combination from the player.
17. The gaming system of claim 13, wherein the input device comprises a portable pad adapted to be presented to the player to input the player guess at the secret combination.
18. The gaming system of claim 13, further comprising a plurality of display screens, each provided on one of plurality of game stations, the display screen being adapted to display at least one of information about the bonus game, a current bonus prize amount or information about the secret combination.
19. A method of promoting gaming, comprising:
providing a bonus game of chance in conjunction with a plurality of base games of chance over a plurality of gaming locations, the bonus game being associated with a vault comprising a bonus prize and a secret combination of discrete elements:
qualifying a player to participate in the bonus game upon meeting at least one winning criterion on the base game of chance;
providing an input device to be presented to the player, wherein the player inputs a guess at the secret combination;
receiving the player guess at the secret combination through the input device; and
determining if the bonus prize is won based on the secret combination, the player guess, and a matching criteria associated with the secret combination.
20. The method of claim 19, further comprising:
keeping a count of the number of guesses taken at the secret combination at each of the one or more gaming locations within a predetermined time period; and
receiving an amount of contribution from the respective gaming location based on the count.
US11/976,704 2006-10-27 2007-10-26 System and method for playing a game of chance having a base game and a bonus game Abandoned US20080102918A1 (en)

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