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US20080318669A1 - Wagering Game Content Approval and Dissemination System - Google Patents

Wagering Game Content Approval and Dissemination System Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080318669A1
US20080318669A1 US12097140 US9714006A US2008318669A1 US 20080318669 A1 US20080318669 A1 US 20080318669A1 US 12097140 US12097140 US 12097140 US 9714006 A US9714006 A US 9714006A US 2008318669 A1 US2008318669 A1 US 2008318669A1
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Prior art keywords
game
wagering
content
digital
vault
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US12097140
Inventor
Dale R. Buchholz
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Bally Gaming Inc
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WMS Gaming Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users
    • G07F17/3232Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users wherein the operator is informed
    • 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

Methods and apparatus for implementing a digital vault in a wagering game system are described herein. In one embodiment, a method for implementing a digital vault in a wagering game system includes transmitting an indication of locally stored wagering game content for a determination about whether the wagering game content complies with regulatory or licensing rules, the indication destined for an auditor The method can also include transmitting authentication information associated with the wagering game content, the authentication information destined for the auditor. The method can also include receiving a message indicating whether the wagering game content complies with the regulatory or licensing rules.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This patent application claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/743,070 filed Dec. 22, 2005 and entitled “WAGERING GAME CONTENT APPROVAL AND DISSEMINATION SYSTEM” (Attorney Docket 1842.229PRV).
  • LIMITED COPYRIGHT WAIVER
  • [0002]
    A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material to which the claim of copyright protection is made. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any person of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but reserves all other rights whatsoever. Copyright 2005, 2006, WMS Gaming, Inc.
  • FIELD
  • [0003]
    This invention relates generally to the field of wagering game systems and more particularly to the field of disseminating and approving wagering game content.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0004]
    Wagering game machine makers have increased entertainment value associated with wagering game machines by offering a variety of wagering game content. Despite this variety, players often lose interest in repetitive wagering game content. In order to maintain player interest, wagering game machine makers frequently update game themes, game settings, bonus games, and other wagering game content. In turn, gaming machine operators continuously license and deploy new wagering game content to machines operating in the field.
  • [0005]
    Wagering game machine operators typically update wagering game content by manually delivering the content to each wagering game machine. For example, when a wagering game machine's content becomes undesirable or a license expires, an operator typically replaces existing media (e.g. ROM, CD-ROM, or flash RAM) with new media containing updated gaming and licensing content. For gaming machine operators owning scores of machines, this process can be laborious and expensive.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0006]
    The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the Figures of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • [0007]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0008]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a wagering game network that includes a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0009]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating certain components of a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0010]
    FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0011]
    FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for obtaining approval for wagering game content, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0012]
    FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for depositing approved wagering game content in a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for receiving and storing wagering game content in a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 8 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for receiving wagering game content in wagering game machines, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 9 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for auditing a wagering game machine or digital vault for wagering game content stored therein, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 10 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for responding to an audit, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 11 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for depositing wagering game content in a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 12 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications of a download protocol for downloading wagering game content from a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 13 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for auditing a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 14 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for auditing a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments of the invention; and
  • [0021]
    FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments of the invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
  • [0022]
    Systems and methods for a wagering game system with digital vault are described herein. This description of the embodiments is divided into six sections. The first section provides an introduction to embodiments of the invention. The second section describes an example operating environment, while the third section describes example operations performed by some embodiments of the invention. The fourth section describes some implementation details and the fifth section describes an example wagering game machine. The sixth section provides some general comments.
  • Introduction
  • [0023]
    This section introduces embodiments of a wagering game content approval and dissemination system. Embodiments of the system can be used by content providers, regulatory authorities, and wagering game machine operators for electronically approving and disseminating wagering game content. For example, in one embodiment, the system can: 1) electronically obtain regulatory approval for wagering game content, 2) electronically deposit the approved wagering game content in a digital vault, 3) electronically disseminate the approved wagering game content to wagering game machines in the field, and 4) electronically audit the wagering game machines and digital vault to ensure that no unapproved content has been disseminated. An embodiment of the system is shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, according to example embodiments of the invention. The discussion of FIG. 1 describes one embodiment of the system. As shown in FIG. 1, the wagering game system 100 includes a wagering game content provider 102 and approval entity 104. The wagering game content provider 102 can electronically submit wagering game content to the approval entity 104 for regulatory approval. After receiving regulatory approval, the wagering game content provider 102 can deposit the approved wagering game content in the digital vault 108, which can verify that the content has been approved. Additionally, the digital vault 108 can disseminate the wagering game content to wagering game machines 114 located in the field. The approval entity 104 can audit the digital vault 108 and the wagering game machines 114 to ensure that unapproved wagering game content has not been disseminated. These and other embodiments will be described in more detail below.
  • Example Operating Environment
  • [0025]
    The section describes an example operating environment in which embodiments can be practiced. In particular, FIG. 2 describes an example wagering game network that includes a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, while FIGS. 3 and 4 describe some of the system's components in greater detail. This description continues with FIG. 2.
  • Example Network
  • [0026]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a wagering game network that includes a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, according to example embodiments of the invention. As shown in FIG. 2, the wagering game network 200 includes a plurality of casinos 208 connected to a communications network 220.
  • [0027]
    Each of the plurality of casinos 208 includes a local area network 222, which includes wagering game machines 202, mobile wagering game units 204, a digital vault 214, and a content manager 224. The wagering game machines 202 and mobile wagering game units 204 can include hardware and machine-readable media including instructions for performing any of the operations described herein. The digital vault 214 can store wagering game content for dissemination to the wagering game machines 202 and the mobile wagering game units 214. The content manager 224 can control flow of wagering game content between the digital vault 214 and the wagering game machines 202 and mobile wagering game units 204. In one embodiment, the content manager 224 can audit wagering game content stored in the wagering game machines 202 and mobile wagering game units 204. In one embodiment, the content manager 224 can perform audits similar to the approval entity 218 (see below).
  • [0028]
    The components of each casino 208 can communicate over wired 210 and/or wireless connections 212, as they can employ any suitable connection technology, such as Bluetooth, 802.11, Ethernet, pubic switched telephone networks, SONET, etc.
  • [0029]
    The wagering game machines described herein can take any suitable form, such as floor standing models, handheld mobile units, bartop models, workstation-type console models, etc. In one embodiment, the wagering game network 200 can include other network devices, such as accounting servers, wide area progressive servers, and/or other devices suitable for use in connection with embodiments of the invention.
  • [0030]
    As shown in FIG. 2, the communications network 220 is also connected to an approval entity 218, wagering game content provider 216, and digital vault 214. In one embodiment, the approval entity 218 can determine whether wagering game content meets regulatory and/or licensing rules and it can issue digital certificates or other verification information indicating the content has been approved. The approval entity 218 can also audit the digital vault 214, wagering game machines 202, and mobile gaming units 204 to ensure that they do not include unapproved wagering game content.
  • [0031]
    The digital content provider 216 can provide wagering game content designed by wagering game machine manufacturers, such as WMS Gaming, Inc., or from other suitable sources.
  • [0032]
    The digital vault 214 can receive wagering game content from the digital content provider 216 and obtain verification of the content from the approval entity 218. The digital vault 214 can also disseminate the wagering game content to the wagering game machines 202 and mobile gaming units 204. Before the digital vault 214 accepts wagering game content from the digital content provider 216, it can authenticate the digital content provider 216 and the wagering game content.
  • [0033]
    Operations performed by embodiments of the wagering game content approval and dissemination system are described in more detail below, in the “Operations” section. This description continues with a more detailed discussion of the system's components.
  • Example System Components
  • [0034]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating certain components of a wagering game content approval and dissemination system, according to example embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3 shows a digital vault 300, which includes an authentication unit 302, verification unit 304, and wagering game content store 306. In one embodiment, the digital vault's authentication unit 302 can authenticate devices with which the digital vault 300 will communicate (e.g., wagering game machines, approval entity, etc.). Additionally, the authentication unit 302 can authenticate information received by the digital vault 300. As such, the authentication unit 302 can employ any suitable authentication technique, such as public-key cryptography (e.g., digital signatures), biometric information, password-based authentication, token-based authentication, etc.
  • [0035]
    The digital vault's verification unit 304 can verify that specific wagering game content has been approved by an approval entity. In one embodiment, the verification unit 304 compares verification information received from a wagering game content provider with verification information received from an approval entity.
  • [0036]
    The digital vault's wagering game content store 306 can securely store wagering game content received from wagering game content providers. In one embodiment, the wagering game content store 306 can include a secure flat file database, secure relational database, secure directory database, or other suitable secure data store. Wagering game content can include program code, audio content, video content, and/or other data used for conducting all or part of a wagering game or bonus game. The wagering game content can also include executable game code, game math, game art, configuration data (e.g., data enumerating win percentages, denominations, paylines, etc.), operating system code (e.g., peripheral device drivers, patches, libraries, etc.), advertisements, etc.
  • [0037]
    The digital vault's audit unit 307 can transmit lists describing the wagering game content currently or previously stored in the digital vault 300. The audit unit 307 can also transmit verification information to auditors, where the verification information indicates that the wagering game content has been approved by an approval entity.
  • [0038]
    As shown in FIG. 3, an approval entity 310 includes an approval unit 312, verification unit 314, and audit unit 316. The approval entity's approval unit 312 can determine whether wagering game content satisfies regulatory rules or licensing agreements. If the wagering game content satisfies the necessary rules, the approval unit 312 can provide a digital certificate or other verification information indicating that the wagering game content has been approved. The approval entity's verification unit 314 can process requests to verify that specified wagering game content has been approved. Such processing can include providing digital certificates or other verification information indicating that specified content has been approved. The approval entity's audit unit 316 can audit wagering game content stored in a digital vault or in wagering game machines in the field. Such audits can determine whether a machine is using (or has used) unapproved wagering game content. The approval entity 310 can be implemented in a portable device, such as a laptop computer, PDA, or cellular phone, so that an approval function can be executed while locally attached to a casino network. For example, a laptop computer connected to a local casino network 222 could embody the audit unit 316 and thereby execute an audit on a local digital vault 214 or wagering game machine 202.
  • [0039]
    The wagering game content provider 318 includes an approval unit 320 and a wagering game content store 322. The approval unit 320 can submit wagering game content to an approval entity and receive a digital certificate or other information verifying that the wagering game content has been approved. The wagering game content store 322 stores wagering game content for which approval is being sought.
  • [0040]
    While FIG. 3 describes an example digital vault, approval entity, and wagering game content provider, FIG. 4 describes an example wagering game machine. This description continues with a discussion of FIG. 4.
  • [0041]
    FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments of the invention. As shown in FIG. 4, the wagering game machine 406 includes a central processing unit (CPU) 426 connected to a main memory 428, which includes an audit response unit 432, transmitting and receiving unit 434, and wagering game unit 436. In one embodiment, the wagering game unit 436 can conduct any suitable casino-style wagering game, such as video poker, video black jack, video slots, video lottery, etc. In one embodiment, the receiving unit 434 can receive wagering game content from a digital vault, while the audit response unit 432 can provide audit information about the wagering game content stored in the wagering game machine 406.
  • [0042]
    The CPU 426 is also connected to an input/output (I/O) bus 422, which facilitates communication between the wagering game machine's components. The I/O bus 422 is connected to a payout mechanism 408, secondary display 410, primary display 412, money/credit detector 414, player input device 416, information reader 418, and storage unit 430. The I/O bus 422 is also connected to an external system interface unit 424, which is connected to external systems 404 (e.g., a gaming network).
  • [0043]
    In one embodiment, the wagering game device 406 can include additional peripheral devices and/or more than one of each component shown in FIG. 4. For example, in one embodiment, the wagering game device 406 can include multiple network interface units 424 and multiple CPUs 426.
  • [0044]
    The components discussed in this description can be connected according to any suitable interconnection architecture (e.g., directly connected, hypercube, etc.) and they can be integrated or subdivided (e.g., the approval entity's approval unit 312 and audit unit 316 can be combined into a single unit). Additionally, any of the components can include machine-readable media including instructions for performing operations described herein. Machine-readable media includes any mechanism that provides (i.e., stores and/or transmits) information in a form readable by a machine. For example, tangible machine-readable media includes read only memory (ROM), random access memory (RAM), magnetic disk storage media, optical storage media, flash memory devices, etc. Furthermore, the components can include other types of logic (e.g., hardware or firmware) for executing the operations described herein.
  • [0045]
    The next section describes operations performed by embodiments of the wagering content approval and dissemination system.
  • Operations
  • [0046]
    This section describes operations performed by embodiments of the invention. In the discussion below, the flow diagrams will be described with reference to the block diagrams presented above. In certain embodiments, the operations are performed, at least in part, by instructions residing on machine-readable media (e.g., software), while in other embodiments, the operations are performed by hardware and/or other logic (e.g., firmware).
  • [0047]
    The section will present FIGS. 5-10, which describe operations performed by embodiments of the wagering game content provider, digital vault, wagering game machines, and approval entity. This description continues with a discussion of FIG. 5.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for obtaining approval for wagering game content, according to example embodiments of the invention. The flow diagram 500 commences at block 502.
  • [0049]
    At block 502, a wagering game content provider's approval unit 320 transmits wagering game content to an approval entity 218. In one embodiment, the wagering game content provider 216 is seeking regulatory or licensing approval for the wagering game content. The flow continues at block 504.
  • [0050]
    At block 504, if the wagering game content was approved, the flow continues at block 506. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 508.
  • [0051]
    At block 506, the approval unit 320 receives a digital certificate or other verification information indicating that the wagering game content has been approved by the approval entity 218. From block 506, the flow ends.
  • [0052]
    At block 508, the approval unit 320 receives a rejection message, from the approval entity 218, indicating why the wagering game content was rejected. A wagering content provider may wish to address the reasons for rejection and resubmit the wagering game content for approval. In that case, the updated wagering content is submitted in the same manner as the original wagering game content starting at block 502. From block 508, the flow ends.
  • [0053]
    While FIG. 5 describes operations for obtaining approval for specified wagering game content, FIG. 6 describes operations for depositing approved wagering game content in a digital vault.
  • [0054]
    FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for depositing approved wagering game content in a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention. The flow diagram 600 commences at block 602.
  • [0055]
    At block 602, the wagering game content provider 216 notifies the digital vault 214 of available approved wagering game content. In one embodiment, the wagering game content provider 216 transmits a URL identifying a location in its wagering game content store 322 at which the approved wagering game content can be obtained. The flow continues at block 604.
  • [0056]
    At block 604, the wagering game content provider 216 receives a request for the available approved wagering game content. In one embodiment, the provider 216 receives a request for wagering game content associated with a URL. The flow continues at block 606.
  • [0057]
    At block 606, the wagering game content provider 216 transmits, to the digital vault 214, the requested wagering game content and information verifying that the content has been approved. In one embodiment, the wagering game content provider 216 transmits wagering game content and verification information associated with the URL. The flow continues at block 608.
  • [0058]
    At block 608, the wagering game content provider 216 receives a message indicating whether the wagering game content was accepted or rejected by the digital vault 214. In one embodiment, the digital vault 214 may reject the content if it cannot verify that the content has been approved by the approval entity 218 (see below discussion of block 706). The flow continues at block 610.
  • [0059]
    At block 610, if needed, the wagering game content provider 216 records an indication that the wagering game content was accepted/rejected. In one embodiment, the indication can be used during an auditing process between the digital vault 214 and the approval entity 218 (see below—discussion of FIGS. 9 and 10). From block 610, the flow ends.
  • [0060]
    While FIG. 6 described operations for transmitting wagering game content to a digital vault, FIG. 7 describes operations for receiving the wagering game content in the digital vault.
  • [0061]
    FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for receiving and storing wagering game content in a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention. The flow diagram 700 begins at block 702.
  • [0062]
    At block 702, a digital vault 214 receives a notification that approved wagering game content is available from a wagering game content service provider 216. In one embodiment, the notification includes a URL indicating a location at which the content is available. The flow continues at block 704.
  • [0063]
    At block 704, the digital vault 214 requests and receives the wagering game content and associated verification information. In one embodiment, the digital vault 214 requests the content using the URL and receives the content in its wagering game content store 306. The flow continues at block 706.
  • [0064]
    At block 706, the digital vault's verification unit 304 attempts to verify that the wagering game content has been approved by the approval entity 218. In one embodiment, the verification unit 304 transmits a digital certificate (i.e., the verification information) to the approval entity 218 for verification that the digital certificate was validly issued for approved wagering game content. The flow continues at block 708.
  • [0065]
    At block 708, the digital vault's verification unit 304 determines whether the wagering game content was verified. In one embodiment, the verification unit 304 receives a message, from the approval entity 218, indicating whether the content was verified. If the wagering game content was verified, the flow continues at block 710. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 712.
  • [0066]
    At block 710, the digital vault 214 transmits a message to the wagering game content provider 216, where the message indicates that the digital vault 214 has accepted the wagering game content. From block 710, the flow ends.
  • [0067]
    At block 712, because the content was not verified, the digital vault 214 deletes the wagering game content from its wagering game content store 306. The flow continues at block 714.
  • [0068]
    At block 714, the digital vault 214 transmits a message to the wagering game content provider 216, wherein the message indicates that the digital vault 214 has rejected the wagering game content. From block 714, the flow ends.
  • [0069]
    Up to this point, this section has described operations for approving wagering game content (FIG. 5) and depositing it into a digital vault (FIGS. 6 and 7). This section will now describe operations for disseminating the wagering game content to wagering game machines in the field, as shown in FIG. 8.
  • [0070]
    FIG. 8 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for receiving wagering game content in wagering game machines, according to example embodiments of the invention. The flow diagram 800 commences at block 802.
  • [0071]
    At block 802, a wagering game machine 202 determines that new wagering game content should be downloaded from a digital vault 214. In one embodiment, the wagering game machine 202 periodically (over time) determines that it should download wagering game content. Alternatively, the wagering game machine 202 can receive messages from the digital vault 214 indicating that new content is available. In yet another alternative, the wager game machine 202 can receive messages from a content manager 224 indicating that new content is available. The flow continues at block 804.
  • [0072]
    At block 804, the wagering game machine's transmitting and receiving unit 434 transmits, to the digital vault 214, a request for wagering game content. The flow continues at block 806.
  • [0073]
    At block 806, the transmitting and receiving unit 434 transmits authentication and/or authorization information to the digital vault 214. In one embodiment, the authentication and/or authorization information can include passwords, certificates, hashes, etc. The flow continues at block 808.
  • [0074]
    At block 808, the transmitting and receiving unit 434 receives the wagering game content from the digital vault 214. From block 808, the flow ends.
  • [0075]
    This description continues with a discussion of FIGS. 9 and 10, which describe operations for auditing wagering game content stored in a digital vault or wagering game machine.
  • [0076]
    FIG. 9 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for auditing a wagering game machine for wagering game content stored therein, according to example embodiments of the invention. The flow diagram 900 starts at block 902.
  • [0077]
    At block 902, the approval entity's audit unit 316 requests and receives a list of wagering game content from a wagering game machine 202. The flow continues at block 904.
  • [0078]
    At block 904, the audit unit 316 determines whether to authenticate the list of wagering game content. Some system components may be trusted, while others are not trusted. In one embodiment, the audit unit 316 authenticates lists received from untrusted system components, such as mobile gaming units 204. If the approval entity will authenticate the list, the flow continues at block 906. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 910.
  • [0079]
    At block 906, the audit unit 316 requests and receives authentication information from the wagering game machine 202 that sent the list. In one embodiment, the authentication information includes a message authentication code for verifying the integrity and authenticity of the list of wagering game content. The flow continues at block 908.
  • [0080]
    At block 908, the audit unit 316 determines whether the authentication information is correct. In one embodiment, the audit unit 316 generates a message authentication code and compares it to the one received at block 906. If the codes match, the list is authentic (i.e., the authentication information is correct). If the authentication information is correct, the flow continues at block 910. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 920.
  • [0081]
    At block 910, the audit unit 316 determines whether the list of wagering game content matches a list of approved content. If the list of wagering and content does not match an approved content list, the flow continues at block 920. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 912.
  • [0082]
    At block 912, the audit unit 316 determines whether a transaction history is needed. In one embodiment, the audit unit 316 reviews the transaction history for only certain devices, such as the digital vault 214. In one embodiment of the transaction history indicates what wagering game content has been transmitted/received and when the transmission/receipt occurred. If the transaction history is needed, the flow continues at block 914. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 918.
  • [0083]
    At block 914, the audit unit 316 requests and receives the transaction history from the wagering game device 202. The flow continues at block 916.
  • [0084]
    At block 916, the audit unit 316 determines whether the transaction history is acceptable. In one embodiment, the transaction history is acceptable if all wagering game content transmitted/received by the wagering game machine 202 was approved by the approval entity 218. In one embodiment, the audit unit 316 checks the transition/receipt times with a log indicating when the content was approved. If the content was approved before transmission/receipt, the transaction history is acceptable. If the transaction history is acceptable, the flow continues at block 918. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 920.
  • [0085]
    At block 918, the audit unit 316 determines that the wagering game machine 202 has passed the audit. From block 918, the flow ends.
  • [0086]
    At block 920, the audit unit 316 determines that the wagering game machine 202 has failed the audit. From block 920, the flow ends.
  • [0087]
    Although the discussion of FIG. 9 describes the approval entity 218 auditing a wagering game machine 202, the approval entity 218 can audit the mobile gaming units 204, the digital vault 214, and other system components. This description continues with the discussion of FIG. 10.
  • [0088]
    FIG. 10 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for responding to an audit, according to example embodiments of the invention. The flow diagram 1000 commences at block 1002.
  • [0089]
    At block 1002, a wagering game machine's audit response unit 432 determines that an audit is to be performed by the approval entity 218. In one embodiment, the audit response unit 432 determines that an audit is to be performed because a period of time has elapsed or because it received an audit request from the approval entity 218. The flow continues at block 1004.
  • [0090]
    At block 1004, the audit response unit 432 transmits a list of locally stored wagering game content to the approval entity 218. The flow continues at block 1006.
  • [0091]
    At block 1006, the audit response unit 432 receives a request for authentication information and/or a transaction history associated with the locally stored wagering game content. The flow continues at block 1008.
  • [0092]
    At block 1008, the audit response unit 432 transmits the authentication information and/or the transaction history. The flow continues at block 1010.
  • [0093]
    At block 1010, the audit response unit 432 receives results of the audit. The flow continues at block 1012.
  • [0094]
    At block 1012, the audit response unit 432 determines whether the audit was passed. If the audit was passed, the flow ends. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 1014.
  • [0095]
    At block 1014, the audit response unit 432 stops using wagering game content associated with the audit failure. In one embodiment, the audit response unit 432 deletes or otherwise disables the wagering game content associated with the audit failure. From block 1014, the flow ends.
  • [0096]
    While this section describes operations performed by embodiments of the invention, the next section describes an example implementation.
  • Example Implementation
  • [0097]
    This section describes example an example implementation.
  • [0098]
    In one embodiment, digital vaults perform at least two functions: (1) controlling access to wagering game content, which can include using protocols for external communications, and (2) storage management. The digital vault 300 can include an access control unit (not shown) for screening all requests and providing appropriate responses. The access control unit can screen requests through an authentication process which confirms that the originator of the request is actually the entity it claims to be. The access control unit can perform an X.509 certificate exchange. The access control unit can process the certificate and find the identity and public key of the originator. If the access control unit trusts the certificate authority that issued the certificate, then it can verify and accept the information in the certificate. Otherwise, the access control unit can send a challenge to the originator by sending information encrypted with the originator's public key. The originator can modify the information, encrypt the information using the access control unit's public key, and send it to the access control unit for validation.
  • [0099]
    The authentication process can be followed by an authorization process. During the authorization process, the originator's credentials are checked to ensure that the originator is entitled to access the wagering game content or other information specified in the request. The access control unit can keep an access control list for defining which pieces of wagering game content may be accessed (owner, guest) and which actions may be performed (read, write, modify, execute) by an originator of a request.
  • A Deposit Protocol
  • [0100]
    FIG. 11 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for depositing wagering game content in a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention. The deposit protocol can be used for depositing wagering game content in a digital vault. In one embodiment, all wagering game content must be approved by the approval entity 1102 (e.g., a state gaming commission, licensing authority, or testing house) before it can be deposited in the digital vault 1106 (see messages 1114). This approval entity 1102 can issue a certificate of approval and keep a list of approved wagering game content in order to audit the contents of the digital vault. The owner and operator of a digital vault 1106 can request a copy of the approval certificate from the digital content provider 1104 and can verify the authenticity of the certificate and the wagering game content with the approval entity.
  • [0101]
    The message exchange for depositing wagering game content in a digital vault is shown in FIG. 11 (see messages 1112). The wagering game content provider 1104 notifies the digital vault 1106 that there is new content to be deposited. This new wagering game content may be anything from new video content to fixes for existing wagering game code. In one embodiment, the deposit protocol assumes that the new wagering game content being deposited is a self-contained and standalone entity. That is, the digital vault 1106 will not execute a procedure to modify something already in the digital vault 1106. If the new wagering game content is meant as a replacement of something already in the digital vault 1106, then a separate withdrawal operation should be performed to remove the wagering game content being replaced.
  • [0102]
    After the digital vault 1106 has been notified of new wagering game content to be deposited, the digital vault requests the content from the wagering game content provider 1104 (see messages 1112). This allows the digital vault 1106 to control the timing for the actual transfer and may result in the transfer being schedule at a later time. The wagering game content provider 1104 can authenticate the source of the request to ensure that it is expected and the provider 1104 can verify that the requesting digital vault 1106 is authorized to receive the wagering game content. The authorization phase may include validating any license agreements using a license server or any other means.
  • [0103]
    The response message from the wagering game content provider 1104 contains the wagering game content and the certificate of authenticity from the approval entity 1102 and any other contractual terms, such as license number, duration, number of machines, fees, etc.
  • [0104]
    The digital vault 1106 can verify the wagering game content by contacting the approval entity 1102 and requesting verification of the information and the certificate. Once the digital vault 1106 decides to accept the wagering game content, it sends a message to the provider 1104 accepting the terms of the deposit.
  • [0105]
    The deposit exchange can be done using a secure association that includes source and destination authentication, authenticated data exchange, and encryption of the data. Any secure Internet technology can be used, such as HTTPS, secure FTP, or IPSec. The wagering game content can be stored at the provider 1104 and/or the digital vault 1106 in encrypted form. In that case, the transfer process may not require a second encryption technique. The results of the deposit can be logged by the wagering game content provider 1104 and the digital vault 1106.
  • A Withdrawal Protocol
  • [0106]
    A wagering game content provider can withdraw wagering game content from a digital vault. A withdrawal can completely remove wagering game content from the digital vault. In one embodiment, the digital vault overwrites the storage area occupied by the withdrawn wagering game content, thereby making it impossible to recover the content. Any archive of the storage area can be similarly inactivated. In one embodiment, withdrawal requests must be honored immediately. As a result, if the digital vault is in the midst of downloading an affected piece of content, then the download must be aborted. The digital vault can respond to the withdrawal request with a message indicating that the wagering game content has been withdrawn. The exchange can be logged by the wagering game content provider and the digital vault.
  • A Download Protocol
  • [0107]
    FIG. 12 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for downloading wagering game content from a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention. The digital vault 1202 and wagering game machine 1204 can use the download protocol 1200 to copy wagering game content from the digital vault 1202 to the wagering game machine 1204. This wagering game content can include game software, operating system software, peripheral code, etc.
  • [0108]
    As shown in FIG. 12, the digital vault 1202 notifies a wagering game machine 1204 that it needs to perform a download operation. The notification can be done via a secure communication session. The game machine 1204 can acknowledge receipt of the notification. The wagering game machine 1204 may postpone acting on the notification until an appropriate time. The wagering game machine 1204 may use local information to determine an appropriate time. For example, the wagering game machine 1204 can use local information indicating that a wagering game session is not currently in progress and that the machine has been cashed out. At that time, the wagering game machine 1204 can move into an unplayable state until the download is complete. Another embodiment can download the content in the background (i.e., while the machine is conducting a wagering game session), but it would install the content when the wagering game machine 1204 is in a safe state.
  • [0109]
    At the appropriate time, the wagering game machine 1204 requests a download using information (e.g., a URL) provided by in the Notify message.
  • [0110]
    Upon successful completion of authentication and authorization procedures, the digital vault 1202 responds with the requested digital information. This request-response exchange can be done using encryption.
  • [0111]
    The wagering game machine 1204 can use the result message to either accept or reject the transfer. The results of the exchange can be logged at the wagering game machine 1204 and the digital vault 1202.
  • Auditing the Digital Vault
  • [0112]
    FIG. 13 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for auditing a digital vault, according to example embodiments of the invention. The digital vault 1304 may be audited any time by the approval entity 1302 or wagering game content provider (not shown). An audit can include listing the digital vault's wagering game content and verifying that the content is on a list of content approved by the approval entity 1302. Unapproved wagering game content violates the approval process. The exchange is similar when the requester is a wagering game content provider.
  • [0113]
    The request message specifies whether the audit is complete or partial. An audit may be partial or complete at the discretion of the requester. It may include verifying all or some of the wagering game content via authentication technology, such as Message-Digest algorithm 5 or Secure Hash Algorithm. The response message is a manifest of the wagering game content currently stored in the accounts specified by the request message. This manifest can then be used to verify that the items are on the list of approved content and to request verification of one or more of the items in the list.
  • [0114]
    An audit may be performed on an activity log of the digital vault 1304. The request for the log file may be for the entire file or for a subset based on time and date, a specific piece of wagering game content, a specific wagering game content provider, a specific wagering game machine, etc.
  • [0115]
    The digital vault 1304 can be audited in the background or it can be taken off-line, at the discretion of the requester, and in conjunction with the digital vault's owner/operator.
  • [0116]
    The audit exchange can be done over a secure communication session.
  • Audit of an EGM
  • [0117]
    FIG. 14 is a sequence diagram illustrating communications for auditing a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments of the invention. Auditing a wagering game machine 1404 is similar to auditing a digital vault (see FIG. 13). The manifest of wagering game content on a wagering game machine is expected to be a subset of that found on the digital vault. Unapproved wagering game content is not allowed. The message exchange for auditing a wagering game machine is shown in FIG. 14.
  • Example Wagering Game Machine
  • [0118]
    This section describes example wagering game machines and wagering game networks with which embodiments of the invention can be practiced.
  • [0119]
    FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments of the invention. As shown in FIG. 15, the wagering game machine 1500 can be a computerized slot machine having the controls, displays, and features of a conventional slot machine.
  • [0120]
    The wagering game machine 1500 can be mounted on a stand 1542 or it can be constructed as a pub-style tabletop game (not shown). As a result, the wagering game machine 1500 can be operated while players are standing or seated. Furthermore, the wagering game machine 1500 can be constructed with varying cabinet and display designs. The wagering game machine 1500 can incorporate any primary game such as slots, poker, or keno, and additional bonus round games. The symbols and indicia used on and in the wagering game machine 1500 can take mechanical, electrical, or video form.
  • [0121]
    As illustrated in FIG. 15, the wagering game machine 1500 includes a coin slot 1502 and bill acceptor 1524. Players can place coins in the coin slot 1502 and paper money or ticket vouchers in the bill acceptor 1524. Other devices can be used for accepting payment. For example, credit/debit card readers/validators can be used for accepting payment. Additionally, the wagering game machine 1500 can perform electronic funds transfers and financial transfers to procure monies from financial accounts. When a player inserts money in the wagering game machine 1500, a number of credits corresponding to the amount deposited are shown in a credit display 1506. After depositing the appropriate amount of money, a player can begin playing the game by pushing play button 1508. The play button 1508 can be any play activator used for starting a wagering game or sequence of events in the wagering game machine 1500.
  • [0122]
    As shown in FIG. 15, the wagering game machine 1500 also includes a bet display 1512 and one or more “bet” buttons on the panel 1516. The player can place a bet by pushing one or more of the bet buttons on the panel 1516. The player can increase the bet by one or more credits each time the player pushes a bet button. When the player pushes a “bet one” button 1516, the number of credits shown in the credit display 1506 decreases by one credit, while the number of credits shown in the bet display 1512 increases by one credit.
  • [0123]
    A player may end the gaming session or “cash-out” by pressing a cash-out button 1518. When a player cashes-out, the wagering game machine 1500 dispenses a voucher or currency corresponding to the number of remaining credits. The wagering game machine 1500 may employ other payout mechanisms such as credit slips (which are redeemable by a cashier) or electronically recordable cards (which track player credits), or electronic funds transfer.
  • [0124]
    The wagering game machine also includes a primary display unit 1504 and a secondary display unit 1510 (also known as a “top box”). The wagering game machine may also include an auxiliary video display 1540. In one embodiment, the primary display unit 1504 displays a plurality of video reels 1520. According to embodiments of the invention, the display units 1504 and 1510 can include any visual representation or exhibition, including moving physical objects (e.g., mechanical reels and wheels), dynamic lighting, and video images. In one embodiment, each reel 1520 includes a plurality of symbols such as bells, hearts, fruits, numbers, letters, bars or other images, which correspond to a theme associated with the wagering game machine 1500. Additionally, the wagering game machine 1500 also includes an audio presentation unit 1528. The audio presentation unit 1528 can include audio speakers or other suitable sound projection devices.
  • [0125]
    In one embodiment, the wagering game machine 1500 can simultaneously (or virtually simultaneously) authenticate wagering game files and/or components while conducting wagering games, as described herein.
  • General
  • [0126]
    In this description, numerous specific details are set forth. However, it is understood that embodiments of the invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known circuits, structures and techniques have not been shown in detail in order not to obscure the understanding of this description. Note that in this description, references to “one embodiment” or “an embodiment” mean that the feature being referred to is included in at least one embodiment of the invention. Further, separate references to “one embodiment” in this description do not necessarily refer to the same embodiment; however, such embodiments are not mutually exclusive, unless so stated and except as will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the present invention can include any variety of combinations and/or integrations of the embodiments described herein. Each claim constitutes an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0127]
    Herein, block diagrams illustrate example embodiments of the invention. Also herein, flow diagrams illustrate operations of the example embodiments of the invention. The operations of the flow diagrams are described with reference to the example embodiments shown in the block diagrams. However, it should be understood that the operations of the flow diagrams could be performed by embodiments other than those discussed with reference to the block diagrams, and embodiments discussed with references to the block diagrams could perform operations different than those discussed with reference to the flow diagrams. Additionally, some embodiments may not perform all the operations shown in a flow diagram; and, although the flow diagrams depict serial operations, certain embodiments could perform certain of those operations in parallel.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A method comprising:
    transmitting an indication of locally stored wagering game content for a determination about whether the wagering game content complies with regulatory or licensing rules, the indication destined for an auditor;
    transmitting authentication information associated with the wagering game content, the authentication information destined for the auditor; and
    receiving a message indicating whether the wagering game content complies with the regulatory or licensing rules.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
    receiving a wager associated with a wagering game.
  3. 3. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
    receiving the authentication information and the wagering game content from a digital vault, wherein the digital vault received the authentication information from an approval entity after the approval entity determined the wagering game content complies with regulatory rules.
  4. 4. The method of claim 1, wherein the message indicates that the wagering game content does not comply with the regulatory rules, the method further comprising:
    discontinuing use of the wagering game content.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1, wherein the wagering game content includes operating system code, configuration information, game code, audio content, or video content.
  6. 6. The method of claim 1, wherein the auditor is selected from the group consisting of a government regulatory authority, a wagering game content manufacturer, a wagering game machine owner, and a wagering game machine operator.
  7. 7. The method of claim 1, wherein an audit is performed in response to an auditor request from the auditor or an audit schedule.
  8. 8. The method of claim 1, wherein an audit is performed in response to a large prize being awarded or an irregularly large number of prizes being awarded.
  9. 9. The method of claim 1, wherein the wagering game content is selected from the group consisting of executable content, image content, audio content, video content, and configuration content.
  10. 10. A machine-readable medium including instructions which when executed by a machine cause the machine to perform operations comprising:
    transmitting wagering game content for approval by an approval entity, the approval based at least in part on regulatory or licensing rules;
    receiving verification information indicating that the approval entity approved the wagering game content based at least in part on the regulatory or licensing rules.
  11. 11. The machine-readable medium of claim 10, the operations further comprising:
    transmitting a copy of the verification information for use in an audit.
  12. 12. The machine-readable medium of claim 10, wherein the transmitting and receiving are performed by a digital vault, and wherein the verification information includes information used for auditing a wagering game machine.
  13. 13. The machine-readable medium of claim 10, wherein the verification information includes a digital certificate.
  14. 14. The machine-readable medium of claim 10, wherein the wagering game content includes executable code, image content, audio content, video content, or configuration information.
  15. 15. An apparatus comprising:
    a wagering game content store operable to receive wagering game content;
    a verification unit to receive verification information indicating that the wagering game content has been approved by an approval entity; and
    an authentication unit operable to authenticate the wagering game content.
  16. 16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the wagering game content includes executable code, image content, audio content, video content, or configuration information.
  17. 17. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the verification information includes a digital certificate.
  18. 18. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the apparatus includes an audit unit operable to transmit the verification information to an auditor.
  19. 19. The apparatus of claim 15, the audit unit operable to transmit a list indicating the wagering game content which is stored in the wagering game content store.
  20. 20. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the authentication unit authenticates the wagering game content using a public key and a hash function.
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