US20100035679A1 - Systems and methods for wager management - Google Patents

Systems and methods for wager management Download PDF

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US20100035679A1
US20100035679A1 US12/189,498 US18949808A US2010035679A1 US 20100035679 A1 US20100035679 A1 US 20100035679A1 US 18949808 A US18949808 A US 18949808A US 2010035679 A1 US2010035679 A1 US 2010035679A1
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wager
game
host
wagering
wagers
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Thomas K. Oram
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IGT Rhode Island LLC
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IGT Rhode Island LLC
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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

Systems and methods for processing wagers using third-party content are disclosed. An example system may include a wager management engine configured to create an account for a third-party host of entertainment content, the account including third-party host-specified wager parameters associated with the hosted content. The example system may also include a wager services engine configured to establish a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content, to receive win conditions for the wagering game from the host, and to determine winning wagers in the wagering game based on the win conditions. The example system may also include a recording engine configured to store records of wagering transactions for the wagering game.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • Wagering games exist in a variety of forms. Government licensed wagering generally falls into one of two categories. The first includes games designed specifically to allow a player to place a wager. Examples of the first category include state or other governmental lotteries, instant win-type ticket games, casino games, raffles, poker, etc. The second category includes games whose primary purpose is for competition or entertainment rather than wagering, but where wagering on outcomes of events external to the game is allowed, e.g., sports betting. In both categories, wagering is tightly coupled to the games being played. It is often difficult to change public manifestations of the game without also changing the underlying wagering mathematics. In some cases, the wagering mathematics may be dictated by the game content or entertainment game. Tight coupling may be the result of monolithic programming, utilization of single developer programming models, and other factors that fail to meet the need for robust wagering options that allow new content to be easily created.
  • In addition to existing wagering games, there are also games which are not wagering games, but are played solely for entertainment or competitive purposes. For example, there are conventional video games, quiz games associated with video or music content, Internet games, e.g., downloadable games based on Shockwave or Flash programs, and Internet-based multiplayer games. One example game genre is the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), which is played by large communities over the Internet and includes games such as the World of Warcraft game from Blizzard Entertainment and Second Life from Linden Labs. For such non-wagering games, wagering may be a desirable addition, both to players who desire to place wagers to enhance their entertainment experience, and as an additional revenue generator for content providers, such as the game operators. However, adding wagering to such games may be restricted by law or regulation in many jurisdictions. One reason for this restriction is that many jurisdictions require wagering game operators to be specially vetted and licensed, e.g., to help prevent fraud and promote fair play and proper tax reporting.
  • Currently there is no system that allows government regulated wagering to be added to existing entertainment content in a way that is properly regulated, auditable, and secure. At the same time, it is difficult for regulated wagering providers to efficiently capitalize on the explosion of content such as games, music, and video that is developed by third parties.
  • Based on both the lack of robust and secure wagering capability in existing non-wagering games and the potential demand for wagering in existing non-wagering games, the inventors of the present application have recognized that there is a need for systems and methods that allow for game developers to develop games independently of wager management, yet which allow for players to place wagers securely under the auspices of a regulatory agency or other trusted authority.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an example gaming system, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates another example gaming system, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates an example game host account, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates an example wagering game definition file, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates an example procedure for registering a game content provider account, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an example procedure for managing a wager transaction, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates another example procedure for managing a wager transaction, according to an example embodiment of the present invention.
  • SUMMARY
  • In one example embodiment of the present invention a system for processing wagers in games using third-party content is provided. The example system includes a transaction processing engine configured to receive wager transactions and wager parameters corresponding to games provided by third-party entertainment content providers, for example, a conventional non-wagering video game, a simulated card game, an MMOG, a game based on predicting the outcome of an event in the plot of fictional television show, a game based on results of TV game show, a game based on the results of a TV reality show, a sport simulation video game, a simulated instant win lottery scratch ticket, a simulated casino game, or a game based on a live broadcast of a sporting contest. The example system may also include a wager management engine configured to create and update host accounts for third-party content providers, and to associate with each host account a respective set of specific wager service enabled by the system for the third-party content provider, the wager services including at least one wager service, for example, accepting wagers, determining wager outcomes, generating a list of winning wagers, validating a wager presented for redemption, informing the holders of wagers of the status of their wagers, creating a wagering pool, and adjusting a wagering pool. The example system may also include a wager services engine configured to establish an instance of a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content, to receive win conditions associated the wagering game, and to determine if a wager placed in the wagering game is a winner. The example system may also include a recording engine configured to store records of wagering transactions for the wagering game. The example system may also include a verification engine configured to verify winning wagers in the wagering game.
  • In a second example embodiment according to the present invention, a system for processing wagers using third-party content may be provided. The example system may include a wager management engine configured to create an account for a third-party host of entertainment content, the account including third-party host-specified wager parameters associated with the hosted content. The system may also include a wager services engine configured to establish a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content, to receive win conditions for the wagering game from the host, and to determine winning wagers in the wagering game based on the win conditions. The system may also include a recording engine configured to store records of wagering transactions for the wagering game.
  • Optionally, the wager parameters may include rules describing a valid wager. The wager parameters may specify categories for winning wagers. The categories may be associated with different matching patterns corresponding to possible wager selection combinations.
  • Optionally, the wager services engine may be configured to accept wager transactions until a sales close notification is received from the host. The wager management engine may be configured to provide a status report including a list of winning wagers to the host. The win conditions may include at least one of winning numbers and winning events that occurred within the hosted content. The game services engine may be configured to provide a game service to the host, the game service including at least one of a randomization service and an outcome generation service. The wager services engine may configured to provide various services, e.g., to create and adjust a pool of winning and losing wagers on behalf of the host, or to manage a wager pool by calculating prize distribution amounts as a function of a total amount wagered by all the players of the wagering game, or to generate a list of winning wagers based on the win conditions and to deliver the list to the host, or determine the outcome of instant win-type wager, or to determine the outcome of wagers based on at least one event occurring within the hosted content. The wager services engine may also be configured to encrypt a token containing information indicative of a wager outcome and to deliver the token to the host. The wager services engine may be configured to encrypt the token with a plurality of encryption levels, at least one of which cannot be decrypted by the host. Additional information related to the wager outcome is appended to the token during the encryption of at least one of the encryption levels.
  • Another example embodiment of the present invention may include an example method for processing wagers. The example method may include establishing an account for a third-party host of entertainment content; receiving wager parameters from the host; associating a set of wager rules with the hosted content, the wager rules depending on the wager parameters; establishing a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content; receiving and recording wager transactions for the wagering game; receiving win conditions from the host; and determining winning wagers based on the win conditions.
  • Optionally, the wager parameters may include rules describing a valid wager. The wager parameters may also specify categories for winning wagers, e.g., categories associated with different matching patterns corresponding to possible wager selection combinations.
  • Optionally, the example method may include accepting wager transactions until a sales close notification is received from the host. The example method may also include providing a status report including a list of winning wagers to the host.
  • Optionally the win conditions include at least one of winning numbers and winning events that occurred within the hosted content.
  • Optionally the example method may include a game service to the host, the game service including at least one of a randomization service and an outcome generation service. The example method, may also include creating and adjusting a pool of winning and losing wagers on behalf of the host. The example method may also include managing a wager pool by calculating prize distribution amounts as a function of a total amount wagered by all the players of the wagering game. The wagering game may be an instant win game, and/or may be based on at least one event occurring within the hosted content. The example method may also include encrypting a token containing information indicative of a wager outcome; and delivering the token to the host. The example method may also include encrypting the token with a plurality of encryption levels, at least one of which cannot be decrypted by the host. During the encryption of at least one of the encryption levels, additional information related to the wager outcome to the token may be appended.
  • Another example embodiment of the present invention may include an article of manufacture having stored thereon constructions configured to be executed by a computer processor, the instructions causing, when executed by the processor, the performance of any of the example methods described above.
  • Another example embodiment of the present invention may include a computer program product, the computer program product. The computer program product may include means for performing any of the methods described above including means for establishing an account for a third-party host of entertainment content; means for receiving wager parameters from the host; means for associating a set of wager rules with the hosted content, the wager rules depending on the wager parameters; means for establishing a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content; means for receiving wager transactions for the wagering game; means for recording the received wager transactions; means for receiving win conditions from the host; and means for determining winning wagers based on the win conditions.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS
  • Some example embodiments of the present invention address a growing need for wagering systems with the capability of managing wagers independent of the actual game mechanics and/or presentation. These example embodiments include systems and methods for providing wager processing and management capabilities without the need to develop such capabilities concurrently with game development. In particular, the example embodiments include business arrangements between a regulated and/or trusted wager host and a non-regulated game operator. The wager host may be responsible for handling wager related operations such as wager recording, win validation, and creating wager pools at the request of the game operator. In this manner, the game operator may be free to concentrate on delivering game services to players or developing new game content without being concerned about the mechanics of wager management, such as wager non-repudiation, wager resolution, wager validation or authentication, auditing, regulatory compliance, and other features needed in wagering games. Although some example embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to wagering of online games, other example embodiments may also be implemented with any game or other piece of new or existing entertainment content for which associated wagering is desired, regardless of whether the game currently includes wagering capabilities or not. Indeed, it may be possible to implement the present invention in virtually any form of hosted entertainment amenable to wagering.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an example gaming system 100, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The system A may include a game content provider (GCP) 101 responsible for hosting entertainment content and providing players with access to the content. The GCP 101 may, in addition to being a content operator, also be a developer of the content itself (e.g., a game developer). Alternatively, the GCP may receive entertainment content from third-party developers. The GCP 101 may include one or more content delivery servers (“servers”) 103, 104, 105 and 106. The servers 103-106 may provide access to online games such as MMOGs, turn-based role-playing games, sports broadcasting, video display archives, or any other entertainment content suitable for wagering. In the context of online games, the wagering may be based on in-game events, which may or may not be dependent on player interaction. For example, a wagering event may be the outcome of a player's attempt to complete a particular game objective. Another wagering event may be a random event affecting one or more players. The servers 103-106 may be in communication with each other so that a single game may be run simultaneously on a plurality of servers.
  • Players may interact with the GCP 101 through any variety of interfaces, including an attended terminal 135, a self-operated terminal 136, a mobile device 137 and a personal computer 138. Each player may be participating in a separate instance of a game (e.g., a single player gamer) or participating in a collective, multiplayer game (e.g.,. a MMOG). The attended terminal 135 may be located at the site of an entertainment event, and may be operated by an attendant in accordance with player input. For example, in the context of online games, the attended terminal 135 may be located at a gaming convention or LAN party where audience members place bets on game events. The terminal 135 may also be placed in other entertainment venues such as sporting events, multiplayer gambling games such as Keno, etc.
  • In contrast to the attended terminal 135, the self-operated terminal 136 may be operated by players without the aid of an attendant. For example, the terminal 136 may be a casino slot machine, an automated sportscasting station, or any other self-service device controlled by the GCP 101. The mobile device 134 and the computer 135 may be player-owned or controlled, non-dedicated devices which perform additional functions at the request of the player. Under the present invention, the only hardware needed to accept wagers may be a device capable of accepting player input. In many instances, the hardware already exists in the form of a computing device used to send or receive game information. Accordingly, additional hardware need not be included from the player's perspective.
  • The GCP 101 may also include a transaction processing engine 107 formed in any combination of hardware and/or software. The transaction processing engine 107 may receive hosted content related requests and wagering requests from the servers. For example, the transaction processing engine 107 may facilitate communication of game data between the servers 103-106. The transaction processing engine 107 may also be in communication with a game content repository 108, a management engine 111, a player management engine 112 and a communications engine 114. In this manner, the transaction processing engine 107 may communicatively connect various component devices of the GCP 101.
  • The repository 108 may provide storage for any type of hosted content such as game content 109 and 110, provided by the GCP 101 to players. The repository 108 may include any storage medium such as hard drives, memory, recordable disks, etc. In an example embodiment involving online games, each server may include a local copy of the game content 109, 110, while the repository 108 may store master versions of the games 109, 110. When a new game is introduced, the new game may first be uploaded to the repository 108. Similarly, game updates may be placed into the repository 108 before being distributed to the servers where the games 109, 110 may be instantiated.
  • The management engine 111 may include hardware and/or software components to enable an operator of the GCP 101 to manage game and wagering activity. For example, the management engine 111 may include monitoring software through which a supervisor may track game or wager transactions. The management engine 111 may also be configured to perform accounting functions, such as receiving billing information from a wager operator 102. The management engine 111 may also enable the GCP 101 to establish business accounts with the wager operator 102.
  • The player management engine 112 may be configured to enable storage and maintenance of player accounts stored in a player account database 113. Each player account may include contact information, wager records, saved game data, statistical information (e.g., IP addresses, login times, etc.), password information, and other information collected when a player interacts with the GCP 101.
  • The communications engine 114 may be configured to function as an intermediary between the wager operator 102 and various GCP components. Account related requests, for example, may be routed through the communications engine 114 to the wager operator A2. Wager transaction requests may also be routed from the transactions processing engine A7 to the wager operator 102. The communications engine 114 may also translate wager requests from the transaction processing engine 107 into wager transaction requests in a format that the wager operator 102 can understand. The communications engine 114 may, for example, communicate using a protocol such as TCP/IP. The communications engine 114 may also mask certain wager elements from access by the wager operator 102. In particular, the communications engine 114 may only transmit wager information in the form of virtual units (e.g., tokens) wagered rather than actual monetary amounts. Encryption of wager outcomes is also described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,685,562 to Rantanen, which describes the use of electronic instant win lots that are accessed using stored keys provided to players.
  • Masking of wager information may simplify wager transactions since only the GCP 101 need keep track of amounts bet by the players. The tokens may have any variety of relationships to the actual amounts, such as 1-to-1 ratios, 2-to-1 ratios, etc. The relationships also need not be limited to numerical relationships, but may represent any type of player selection such as choosing from a list of outcomes, yes-no, etc. The communications engine 114 may also be configured to obtain winning numbers or events associated with the games and translate them into a format suitable for use by the wager operator 102. For example, winning numbers from a game may be converted into a numerical format based on a wager selection range, which is specified by the GCP 101 or required by the wager operator 102. The GCP 101 may provide a reference number with the wager, which may later be used to reference the wager, or the GCP may use the reference number provided by the Wager Operator 102. The reference number may be a serial number, an access code, or any alphanumeric sequence that identifies the wager. For example, US Patent Application No. 2006/0040726 to Szrek and Oram generally describes one approach to the use authentication codes in authenticating printed lottery tickets. The authentication codes are formed from a combination of an encryption key, a date, and the serial number of a ticket.
  • The wager operator 102 may be remotely located from the GCP 101. In some instances, the wager operator 102 may be in the same jurisdiction (e.g., the same State). In other instances, the wager operator 102 may be in a different jurisdiction than that of the GCP 101 (e.g., another State). The wager operator 102 may include a wager transaction processing engine 121 configured to communicate with the GCP 101. A communications network 140 may communicatively couple the transaction processing engine 121 to the communications engine 114. The network 140 may include any variety of sub-networks, including local area networks, wide area networks, the Internet, etc.
  • The wager operator 102 may also include a wager management engine 122, a wager recording engine 123, a wager services engine 124 and a verification engine 127. The wager management engine 122 may be configured to provide accounting. When a GCP desires to establish an account with the wager operator 102, the wager management engine 122 may collect any required information to create a GCP account within a content provider account database 126. Based on wager activity, the wager operator 102 may bill the GCP 101 for wager management services. The billing may be according to an variety of formats such as a per-use fee, a subscription fee, etc. The wager operator 102 may also be configured to verify wager services requested by the GCP 101 against regulatory restrictions. For example, if the wager operator 102 and the GCP 101 are in different locations, the wager management engine A22 may be configured to perform a determination whether the requested serves are allowed under the regulations of the jurisdictions in which the wager operator 102 and the GCP 101 reside.
  • The wager recording engine 123 may be configured to automatically record each wager transaction received by the wager operator 12. Received wager transactions may be recorded by the wager management engine 102 in an activity log and processed accordingly. It should be noted that the wager operator need not be in direct communication with the players. Instead, the GCP 101 may be responsible for developing a presentation layer (e.g., game user interfaces) through which players can communicate wagers. In one example approach, the wager operator 102 may only need require wager amounts (e.g., in the form of tokens) and wager selections (e.g., an event outcome, a selection of numbers, etc.) in order to manage wagers on behalf of the GCP 101. In an alternative approach, e.g., if the wager is an instant win-type wager, the wager operator 102 may only require a wager amount and a game indicator before determining game results. For example, the wager operator 102 may be configured to perform an algorithm to determine whether the wager is an winner or a loser. It will be appreciated that other approaches may also be provided, depending on how winners are determined for a particular game.
  • The wager services engine 124 may include a wager pool creation engine 125, which creates wager pools at the request of the GCP 101. Wager pools may be created for each wagering event and may include the aggregated wagers of each player betting on the event. The wager services engine 124 may also provide other services such as creating winner lists from pattern matching information received from the GCP 101. For example, the GCP 101 may specify that winning wagers be divided into categories (e.g., divisions) based on different winning conditions such as matching a specific pattern. The wager services engine 124, at the request of the GCP 11, may establish a wagering game in conjunction with a content hosted by the GCP 101. In an example embodiment, the wagering game may be associated with the hosted content as part of the GCP's account. The wagering game may also be selectively activated and deactivated by the GCP 101. For example, the GCP 101 may cancel a game at any appropriate time, deactivate wagering for further game events, reactivate wagering at a predetermined time in the future, etc. Activation may be based on GCP selected rules, which may be defined in any variety of ways, including based on real world time or events, in-game time or events, or on demand by the GCP.
  • The validation engine A27 may be configured to provide winning wager validation services at the request of the GCP 101. For example, the GCP 101 may forward a wager transaction identifier corresponding to one or more wagers. The validation engine A27 may validate the wagers against a list of winners stored at the wager operator A2. Alternatively, the GCP 101 may forward actual wager information, including wager selections and amounts, and have the wager operator 102 compare the actual wager information to stored winning information. The GCP 101 may request, from the validation engine A27, a list of some or all winning wagers originally sold by GCP 101
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an example gaming system 200, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The system 200 may include a GCP similar to that shown in FIG. 1, e.g., the GCP 101′. In the illustration of system 200, elements marked with primes indicate components that have the same configuration as those discussed previously with respect to system 100 in FIG. 1, or that have been slightly modified to work with corresponding components of system 200. The system 200 may also include a wager operator 201 including a wager management engine 122, a wager recording engine 123, a wager services engine 102, a verification engine 127 and a game services engine 205.
  • The wager services engine 202 may include a pool creation engine 203 which, similar to the pool creation engine 125, may be configured to create wager pools at the request of the GCP 101 The wager services engine 202 may also include a pool management engine 204 which may be configured to manage wager pools created using the pool creation engine 203. Management may include such tasks as providing depleting or non-depleting pools of winners/losers. For example, online instant win games may have a predetermined number of winners and losers, with the winner pool depleting each time a winning wager is recorded. Pool management may occur, for example, where wager outcomes are independent of game play, thereby allowing the wager operator 201 to make outcome determinations rather than the GCP 101. The pool management engine 204 may also provide prize or winning odds adjustments as a function of how much is being wagered for a given pool. For example, the pool management engine 204 may be configured to provide support for pari-mutuel betting. In particular, the pool management engine 204 may provide for calculation of payouts (expressed, for example, as an amount of tokens) based on factors such as how much was wagered on a winning selection, how much was wagered in total, and commission rates of the wager operator or the GCP 101.
  • The game services engine 205 may include an outcome generator 206 and a randomization engine 207. The game services engine 205 may be configured to provide game services requested by the GCP 101. The game services may, as in the case of the outcome generator, affect wager outcomes. As an illustrative example, the outcome generator B6 may provide a winner generation service for instant win-type wagers. However, game services need not be limited to wager related game services, but may also include service which may be useful for determining the outcome of game events themselves. For example, the randomization engine 207 may provide uniform and secure access to randomized numbers, which may be used, for example, to generate random in-game events, as well as generate winning wager selections.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates an example GCP account 301, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The account 301 may be stored, e.g., in the previously described content provider account database 126, and may include GCP contact information 302, usage statistics and billing information 303, and an activity log 304. The contact information 302 may include any information necessary for communication with the GCP, including telephone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, etc.
  • The usage statistics/billing information 303 may include up-to-date evaluations of wagering activity in addition to charges for servicing those activities. Evaluations may be used for any variety of purposes, including target marketing, product development, business planning, etc.
  • The activity log 304 may contain a record of wager transactions received from the GCP. A record may be created for each transaction, including a wager amount, a wager selection (e.g., a combination of numbers or outcomes selected by the player), a current status of the wager (e.g., whether the wager is a winning wager and, if so, whether a prize has been paid to the winner), a wager identifier used to reference the wager, etc. In an example embodiment, the GCP may prevent the wager operator from knowing the identities of the players by referring to each wager with the identifier associated therewith. However, the GCP may, in other examples, choose to provide player information to the wager operator.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the GCP account 301 may include records for each game for which wagering services has been requested by the GCP. A first game 305, for example, may include a randomization service 308, a pool management service 309 and a wager logging service 310. In this manner, the wager operator may be configured to provide randomized data for the game 305 (e.g., for determination of game outcomes or wager outcomes), maintain a depleting pool, and log wager activity. A second game 306 may include a pool creation service 311 in addition to the wager logging service 310. A third game 307 may include a winner generation service C12 (e.g., instant-win determination) in addition to the wager logging service 310. As shown in the example embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, any variety of services may be associated with hosted content.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates an example wagering game definition file 401, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The definition file 401 may be created when a corresponding game record is created in the GCP account. The definition file 401 may be stored at the wager operator, either as part of the GCP account or as a separate file and may include game rules 402. The game rules 402 may be specified, e.g., by the previously described GCP 101 during account creation and may also be subsequently modified. The game rules D2 may include any variety of rules such as a minimum number of selections 404 (e.g., 2), a maximum number of selections 405 (e.g., 3) and a selection value range 406 (e.g., 1 to 80). It should be noted that the values in each of the rules 404-406 need not be the same as the actual values selected during wagering. For example, as discussed above, the GCP may convert in-game values into a format acceptable to the wager operator. In addition, default rules may be utilized in the event that the GCP has not specified a rule.
  • The definition file 401 may include a pool definition 403 which includes one or more categories of winners and/or losers. As seen in FIG. 4, the pool definition 403 may include a first division 407 and a second division 408. Each division may include winning conditions specified by the GCP. For example the division 407 may include a selection definition 409 (e.g., select 3) and a winning pattern definition 410 (e.g., match 2). Thus, the division 407 may include those players who made three selections, two of which match numbers or selections. Similarly, the division 408 may include a selection definition 411 (e.g., select 3) and a winning pattern definition 412 (e.g., match 3). Thus, to meet the winning conditions of the division 408, players may be required to make three selections and match all three. In the case of an instant-win type wager, the winning conditions may simply provide an indication that winning outcomes may be determined randomly, e.g., through the game services engine 405.
  • The definition file 401 may also include a wagering game transaction type 420 which identifies characteristics of the wagering game. Wagering games can take any variety of forms including instant win, pari-mutuel, one time betting, turn-based multiple betting, etc. Accordingly, it may be desirable to specify the characteristics of a given wagering game to facilitate its execution, e.g., at the wager operator 102 illustrated previously. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the definition file 401 may include an instant win field 421, an event based field 422, a content independent field 423, a pari-mutuel field 4424 and a time dependent field 425. Each field may be set to indicate whether the characteristic associated with the field applies to the wagering game. For example, as shown, the event based field 422 and the pari-mutuel field 424 may be set to a value of 1 while the remaining fields are set to 0. Thus, the wagering game associated with the definition file 401 may have an outcome which is dependent on an event associated with the hosted content provided by the GCP and wagering may be performed in a pari-mutuel manner. Other combinations of characteristics may also be possible and are limited only by the number of different types of potential wagering games.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates an example of a method for registering a GCP account, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The method may be provided, e.g., as software and/or hardware, in the system 100 or the system 200, described previously. It will be appreciated that the description provided with respect to these systems is merely exemplary, and the example method could also be provided with other system architectures, including centralized, client-server, and distributed systems of various types. In 501, a registration request, e.g., from the GCP 101 previously described, may be received by the wager operator. This may occur, for example, through a network connection such as a secure web page, in which case the request may be forwarded by the wager transaction processing engine 121 to the wager management engine 122. Other ways of receiving the registration request may also be possible. In another embodiment, the GCP 101 may verbally convey the request over a telephone, email, a written letter, etc.
  • In 502, wager parameters which were communicated as part of the registration request may be stored in an account, e.g., associated with the GCP 101. If the account does not exist, a new account may be created. If the account already exists, the existing account may be updated. The wager parameters may include a list of services, e.g., those which the GCP 101 requests. Services may be requested on an individual entertainment basis or for a plurality of hosted content simultaneously. The wager parameters may also include game rules, such as rules defining valid selections. Furthermore, the wager parameters may include winning conditions, such as pattern matching information specifying different winning divisions. Another wager parameter may be a total number of wagering game instances, which the GCP 101 desires the wager operator to instantiate. As an example, the GCP 101 may specify 100 instances of a wagering game with drawing numbers ranging from 1701 to 1800.
  • In 503, wagering and game services may be determined based on the wager parameters. If it is determined that a requested service is available, the service may be associated with the GCP account by, for example, creating a entry in the GCP account under a game associated with the service, as discussed previously with reference to FIG. 3.
  • In 504, the registration request may be verified against wagering rules. The wager operator may verify the request using regulations for the jurisdiction in which the wager operator or the GCP 101 resides. The verification may be performed automatically, manually, or a using a combination of automatic and manual checking.
  • In 505, account information may be confirmed with the GCP 101. A summary of requested services may be transmitted to the GCP 101 along with contractual agreements such as terms of use, disclaimers, licenses, etc.
  • In 506, the GCP account may be established (if the account is new) or updated (if the account preexists). This may occur by flagging the account as active, activating service to each hosted content associated with the account, or any other procedure for indicating activation of service.
  • In 507, the GCP account has been established and the wager operator may be ready to accept wager transaction requests from the GCP 101. The wager operator may wait for wager transactions to arrive via the wager transaction processing engine 121, from either the GCP 101 or another GCP for which an account has been established.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an example method for managing wager transactions, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The method may be provided, e.g., as software and/or hardware, in the system 100 or the system 200, described previously. The example method illustrated in FIG. MB includes two separate and concurrent flows of control, one for a GCP and one for a wager operator. The wager operator starts at 6100 by receiving an account registration request from the GCP, which starts at 6200 by transmitting wagering parameters to the wager operator. A more detailed illustration of an example registration process has been described with reference to FIG. 5. Therefore, it is sufficient to say that after the wager parameters are received, the parameters may be verified against regulations and the GCP account may be established or updated depending on whether the account preexists (6101). In 6102, the GCP account has been established and fully updated with the most recent list of requested services. The wager operator may now await wager transaction requests
  • While the wager operator is preparing the GCP account, the GCP, at the same time, may be preparing to initiate content presentation (e.g., game play for a game hosted by the GCP). In 6201, the GCP may initiate content presentation by, for example, installing local copies of the game to each game server hosting the game, distribute copies of the game along with access instructions (e.g., CD keys, flash key access, passwords, etc.) to players, and waiting for players to begin playing the game.
  • In 6202, wagering conditions may be detected during game play based on an variety of factors, and a player may be offered a chance to place wagers on the wagering conditions. Example wagering condition may include in-game events as well as GCP specified conditions. For example, the GCP may desire to periodically offer players the chance to wager, independent of what occurs during game play. Furthermore, wager opportunities may be structured to relate to one another, as is the case with lottery type games in which a prize pot increases over time as players fail to redeem the prize.
  • In 6203, it may be determined whether the wager offer was accepted by the player. If the offer is not accepted, game play continues as normal in 6208. However, if the offer is accepted, a wager transaction request may be generated in 6204. The wager transaction may be generated based on player input, i.e., wager selections, and converted by the communications engine 114 into a format the wager operator can understand before being transmitted. Payment verification may also be performed prior to transmission of the wager transaction.
  • In 6104, after receiving the wager transaction, the wager operator may locate the GCP's account within the content provider account database A26 and determine whether the wager transaction is valid. The wager transaction may, for example, be compared to game rules specified by the GCP.
  • In 6105, the wager may be accepted after having been determined to be allowed by the game rules. The wager transaction may be recorded in the activity log using a unique reference number assigned to the wager transaction and the wager operator may wait for additional wager transactions until an indication from the GCP that wagers should no longer be accepted is received for that particular wagering game (for example, signaling the end of particular draw). The indication may be in the form of a sales close notification, which the GCP may transmit in 6205 after determining that all wagering conditions for a given wager opportunity have ended. The end of the wagering conditions may be arbitrary (e.g., GCP decided) or based on in-game events or conditions.
  • In 6106, wager and/or game services may be executed following the receipt of the sales close notification. Services may include, for example, creating and updating wager pools, providing random number generation service, generating hosted content outcomes on behalf of the GCP, etc. Results of the wager/game services may then be delivered to the GCP.
  • In 6206, the wager outcome may be determined by the GCP based, for example, on any combination of the outcome of in-game events, service results, etc. After the wager outcome is determined, win information may be generated and transmitted to the wager operator (6207). As an illustrative example, the communications engine 114 may convert the wager outcomes into numbers recognized by the wager operator.
  • In 6107, the win information may be stored at the wager operator so that a record of the transactions, along with the result of each transaction, is available. Following storage of the win information, wager accounting may be performed in 6108. Accounting may involve determining how much was wagered in total for the wagering game, how many transactions were processed, whether any commissions are owed, how much the GCP should be billed, etc. After wager accounting is completed, wager transaction results (e.g., a list of winners such as total winners in each division, results for an instant win transaction, a list of losers, etc.) may be transmitted to the GCP.
  • In 6208, the content presentation may be continued at the GCP. That is, the hosted content may continue to be presented to the players regardless of whether the wagering game had ended. The win information may be displayed at any time to players in a variety of ways. One way may be to display the win information directly within the game itself. Another way may be to post the win information on a web site. Other ways of making the win information accessible (e.g., via telephone service, email, etc.) may also be possible.
  • After the wagering game has ended, players may wish to redeem their wagers for prizes, which may be in the form of actual money, discounts for GCP products or services, in-game rewards, etc. Each redeemed wager may be validated by transmitting a validation request to the wager operator. The validation request may include, for example, the unique identifier associated with the wager. It should also be noted that it may be possible for a player to be offered multiple wagering opportunities. Thus, a wagering game may consist of multiple rounds or turns and, in some instances, may extend past the duration of the hosted content itself (e.g., a wagering game based on two instances of the same hosted content, a wagering game based on a plurality of different hosted content, etc.).
  • In 6109, wager validation may be performed by comparing the win information to a record of the wager transaction specified by the validation request. If after matching the win information with the wager information it is determined that the wager was not a winner, that information is returned. Otherwise, the wager is validated. Validation results may then be delivered to the GCP, where the prize is then distributed accordingly (6209). Optionally, the GCP may confirm that the prize has been distributed so that the status of the wager transaction may be updated at the wager operator.
  • Although the example method illustrated in FIG. 6 has been described with reference to an example embodiment in which the GCP determines and forwards win information to the wager operator in order to receive a list of wager transaction results (e.g., a list of winners, the results an individual wager transaction, etc.), other example embodiments may not include the transmission of win information to the wager operator. For example, as previously discussed, in instant win games or games where the wager outcome is independent of events related to the hosted content, the wager operator may determine the wager outcome without any additional input from the GCP.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an example of a method for managing wager transactions, according to an example embodiment of the present invention. In particular, the example method provides a method for managing instant-win type wager transactions. The example method may be provided, e.g., as software and/or hardware, in the system A or the system B, described previously. The example method illustrated in FIG. 7 includes three separate and concurrent flows of control, one for a GCP and one for a wager operator and one for a third-party prize distributor. In 7100, the wager operator may wait for a wager transaction request. Simultaneously, in 7200, an acceptance of a wager opportunity may be received by the GCP. An instant win wager offered by the GCP and accepted by the player during the course of a game or event.
  • In 7201, a wager transaction request may be generated and transmitted to the wager operator by the GCP. The wager transaction request may indicate an identifier for an instant win game. The wager transaction request may also specify wager parameters such as, for example, GCP-selected instant win odds. In one example embodiment, the GCP may specify a Guaranteed Low End Prize Structure (GLEPS) in which a predetermined number of winning wagers is guaranteed within a certain number of instant-type wagers.
  • In 7101, the GCP's account may be located by the wager operator to determine whether the GCP has access to the specified instant win game. In 7102, the GCP's account has been located. The wager transaction request may be accepted by the wager operator. In 7103, wager and/or game services may be executed and a wager outcome may be determined by the wager operator. The wager outcome may be determined in accordance with an instant win algorithm provided as a gaming service. The wager outcome may also be dependent on the wager parameters.
  • In 7104, a gaming token indicative of the wager outcome may be generated by the wager operator. The token may include an indication of whether the wager transaction is a winner and may contain an amount won. Alternatively, the token may contain an identifier as to where wager outcome information is stored, e.g., in a remote server. The token may be encrypted using a first encryption key. Encryption according to the example embodiment of the example method may be performed using any variety of encryption schemes, such as asymmetric or symmetric encryption algorithms. Encryption using the first key may correspond to a first level of encryption. Multiple levels of encryption may be performed, with additional information being appended to the existing information at each level. The information may be added in a specific order. Each level may utilize a different encryption key belonging, for example, to an intended recipient of the information. For example, in 7104, the token may be encrypted to indicate that the player has won $500. The intended recipient may be a third-party prize distributor requiring exact amounts won for remuneration purposes. Each key may be associated with a single party, e.g., the third-party distributor. Alternatively, parties may share keys. Ownership of the token may be passed from one party to another, e.g., from the wager operator to the GCP, then to the prize distributor. Whenever the token is passed to a new owner, the current level of encryption may be unlocked with knowledge of the encryption key associated therewith. The token itself may act as a “bearer bond”. Whomever presents the token for reveal is assumed to be the owner of the token.
  • In 7105, the token may be encrypted using a second encryption key to define a second level of encryption. The second key may belong to the GCP. At the second encryption level, the token may be encrypted with additional information indicating that the winning amount is greater than $50.
  • In 7106, the token may be encrypted using a third encryption key to define a third level of encryption. The third key may belong to the GCP. At the third encryption level, the token may be encrypted with additional information indicating that the wager is a winning wager.
  • In 7107, the triply encrypted token may be transmitted to the GCP. In 7207, the token is received by the GCP and decrypted using the second and third keys. Because the GCP may not have access to the first key, the token may be left with the first level of encryption. The GCP may therefore only determine that the wager is a winning wager and that the winning amount is greater than $50.
  • In 7108, wager accounting may be performed, including for example, determining how much the GCP should be billed in return for wager related services provided by the wager operator.
  • In 7208, the token, after being partially decrypted in 7207, may be transmitted to the prize distributor. Player information associated with the player who placed the winning wager may also be transmitted to the prize distributor for later confirmation of the player's identity. In 7209, the GCP may continue content presentation to the player without concerning itself with the mechanics of prize determination or distribution.
  • In 7307, the prize distributor may wait for a token to be received. The prize distributor may collect tokens from one or more GCPs and may distribute prizes to players. In 7308, the token may be decrypted using the first key to reveal the exact amount won, e.g., $500. A player wishing to redeem the prize may present information associated with himself and/or the wager transaction, such as a name and password, a wager identifier, etc. In this manner, the prize distributor may confirm the player's identity before distributing the prize in 7309.
  • Although the wager operator was only involved with the transfer of token ownership to the GCP in the example embodiment of the example method described above, the wager operator may, in other example embodiments, participate further token transfers. The wager operator may, for example, perform the role of a commissioned agent or serve as a marketplace to enable ownership transfer, e.g., by providing the interfaces, security measures and other mechanisms necessary to facilitate transfer.
  • Based on the example embodiments described above, it may be seen that, generally, the GCP may be responsible for providing all customer-facing content, determining the conditions under which wagering may occur (e.g., when wagering can begin, when wagering should end, etc.), determining winning numbers or events, funding prizes, managing the allocation prizes among winners (e.g., dividing prizes amongst winners of each pool division), paying winners, and collecting from losers. The wager operator, on the other hand, may be responsible for back-end wager management, including accepting wagers from the GCP, recording wagers, organizing divisions of winners/losers, accepting winning conditions such as pattern matching information, reporting wager results to the GCP, and validating winners-all on behalf of the GCP. In this manner, the GCP need not be concerned with tracking wagers, ensuring compliance with regulations, and other aspects of wagering. It will also be appreciated that wagering may be implemented at any time by virtue of a business agreement between the wager operator and the GCP. Accordingly, wagering may be implemented with games for which wagering was unforeseen during game development. For games which already have wagering capabilities, the example embodiments of the present invention may provide additional wagering options, or an alternative, more robust, wagering system to that originally contemplated when the game was developed.
  • It will be appreciated that all of the disclosed methods, games, and procedures described herein can be implemented using one or more computer programs or components. These components may be provided as a series of computer instructions on any conventional computer-readable medium, including RAM, ROM, flash memory, magnetic or optical disks, optical memory, or other storage media. The instructions may be configured to be executed by a processor, which when executing the series of computer instructions performs or facilitates the performance of all or part of the disclosed methods, games, and procedures.
  • In the preceding specification, the present invention has been described with reference to specific example embodiments thereof. It will, however, be evident that various modifications and changes may be made thereunto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the claims that follow. The specification and drawings are accordingly to be regarded in an illustrative rather than restrictive sense.

Claims (33)

1. A system for processing wagers in games using third-party content, comprising:
a transaction processing engine configured to receive wager transactions and wager parameters corresponding to games provided by third-party entertainment content providers, the games provided by the third-party content including at least one game chosen from the list consisting of a conventional non-wagering video game, a simulated card game, an MMOG, a game based on predicting the outcome of an event in the plot of fictional television show, a game based on results of TV game show, a game based on the results of a TV reality show, a sport simulation video game, a simulated instant win lottery scratch ticket, a simulated casino game, and a game based on a live broadcast of a sporting contest;
a wager management engine configured to create and update host accounts for third-party content providers, and to associate with each host account a respective set of specific wager service enabled by the system for the third-party content provider, the wager services including at least one wager service chosen from the list consisting of accepting wagers, determining wager outcomes, generating a list of winning wagers, validating a wager presented for redemption, informing the holders of wagers of the status of their wagers, creating a wagering pool, adjusting a wagering pool;
a wager services engine configured to establish an instance of a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content, to receive win conditions associated the wagering game, and to determine if a wager placed in the wagering game is a winner.
a recording engine configured to store records of wagering transactions for the wagering game; and
a verification engine configured to verify winning wagers in the wagering game.
2. A system for processing wagers using third-party content, comprising:
a wager management engine configured to create an account for a third-party host of entertainment content, the account including third-party host-specified wager parameters associated with the hosted content;
a wager services engine configured to establish a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content, to receive win conditions for the wagering game from the host, and to determine winning wagers in the wagering game based on the win conditions; and
a recording engine configured to store records of wagering transactions for the wagering game.
3. The system of claim 2, wherein the wager parameters include rules describing a valid wager.
4. The system of claim 2, wherein the wager parameters specify categories for winning wagers.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the categories are associated with different matching patterns corresponding to possible wager selection combinations.
6. The system of claim 2, wherein the wager services engine is configured to accept wager transactions until a sales close notification is received from the host.
7. The system of claim 2, wherein the wager management engine is configured to provide a status report including a list of winning wagers to the host.
8. The system of claim 2, wherein the win conditions include at least one of winning numbers and winning events that occurred within the hosted content.
9. The system of claim 2, further comprising a game services engine configured to provide a game service to the host, the game service including at least one of a randomization service and an outcome generation service.
10. The system of claim 2, wherein the wager services engine is configured to create and adjust a pool of winning and losing wagers on behalf of the host.
11. The system of claim 2, wherein the wager services engine is configured to manage a wager pool by calculating prize distribution amounts as a function of a total amount wagered by all the players of the wagering game.
12. The system of claim 2, wherein:
the wager services engine is configured to generate a list of winning wagers based on the win conditions and to deliver the list to the host.
13. The system of claim 2, further comprising:
a game services engine configured to determine the outcome of instant win-type wagers.
14. The system of claim 2, further comprising:
a game services engine configured to determine the outcome of wagers based on at least one event occurring within the hosted content.
15. The system of claim 2, wherein:
the wager services engine is configured to encrypt a token containing information indicative of a wager outcome; and
delivering the token to the host.
16. The system of claim 15, wherein:
the wager services engine is configured to encrypt the token with a plurality of encryption levels, at least one of which cannot be decrypted by the host.
17. The system of claim 16, wherein:
additional information related to the wager outcome is appended to the token during the encryption of at least one of the encryption levels.
18. A method for processing wagers, comprising:
establishing an account for a third-party host of entertainment content;
receiving wager parameters from the host;
associating a set of wager rules with the hosted content, the wager rules depending on the wager parameters;
establishing a wagering game in conjunction with the hosted content;
receiving and recording wager transactions for the wagering game;
receiving win conditions from the host; and
determining winning wagers based on the win conditions.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein the wager parameters include rules describing a valid wager.
20. The system of claim 18, wherein the wager parameters specify categories for winning wagers.
21. The method of claim 20, wherein the categories are associated with different matching patterns corresponding to possible wager selection combinations.
22. The method of claim 18, further comprising:
accepting wager transactions until a sales close notification is received from the host.
23. The method of claim 18, further comprising:
providing a status report including a list of winning wagers to the host.
24. The method of claim 18, wherein the win conditions include at least one of winning numbers and winning events that occurred within the hosted content.
25. The method of claim 18, further comprising:
providing a game service to the host, the game service including at least one of a randomization service and an outcome generation service.
26. The method of claim 18, further comprising:
creating and adjusting a pool of winning and losing wagers on behalf of the host.
27. The method of claim 18, further comprising:
managing a wager pool by calculating prize distribution amounts as a function of a total amount wagered by all the players of the wagering game.
28. The method of claim 18, wherein:
the wagering game is an instant win game.
29. The system of claim 18, wherein:
the wagering game is based on at least one event occurring within the hosted content.
30. The method of claim 18, further comprising:
encrypting a token containing information indicative of a wager outcome; and
delivering the token to the host.
31. The method of claim 30, further comprising:
encrypting the token with a plurality of encryption levels, at least one of which cannot be decrypted by the host.
32. The method of claim 31, further comprising:
during the encryption of at least one of the encryption levels, appending additional information related to the wager outcome to the token.
33-34. (canceled)
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EP2349513A1 (en) 2011-08-03
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WO2010019541A1 (en) 2010-02-18
CA2733859A1 (en) 2010-02-18
AR073027A1 (en) 2010-10-06

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