US20110045896A1 - Gaming system and a method of gaming - Google Patents

Gaming system and a method of gaming Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110045896A1
US20110045896A1 US12859058 US85905810A US20110045896A1 US 20110045896 A1 US20110045896 A1 US 20110045896A1 US 12859058 US12859058 US 12859058 US 85905810 A US85905810 A US 85905810A US 20110045896 A1 US20110045896 A1 US 20110045896A1
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Prior art keywords
credits
gaming
game
player
rate
Prior art date
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
US12859058
Inventor
Edmund Czeslaw Sak
Daniel Julio Montenegro
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes

Abstract

A gaming system including: a plurality of credit meters arranged to store different types of credits including a first credit meter for storing first credits; a currency converter arranged to convert from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate; a game controller arranged to implement a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits, the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance of second credits on a second credit meter of the plurality of credit meters; and an exchange rate controller arranged to control an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application relates to and claims the benefit of priority from Australian Provisional Patent Application Number 2009903982, filed on Aug. 21, 2009, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD
  • [0002]
    The invention relates to a gaming system and a method of gaming.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0003]
    To play existing gaming machines, players input currency, typically by using a bill validator to insert one or more bills or by using a swipe card reader to transfer currency from a currency balance stored on the card. The currency is then converted into credits at a rate fixed at the gaming machine, for example $1=100 credits. The credits are stored on a credit meter. The player then plays a game on the gaming machine by placing wagers in credits resulting in deductions from the credit meter of the amount bet. Any wins resulting from play of the game are added to the credit meter and, in general, the player can reconvert from credits to currency at any time. (It is common to have an exception that requires a player to play out low balances of credits.)
  • [0004]
    While such gaming machines provide players with enjoyment, a need exists for alternative gaming systems in order to maintain or increase player enjoyment.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0005]
    In a first aspect, the invention provides a gaming system including:
  • [0006]
    a plurality of credit meters arranged to store different types of credits including a first credit meter for storing first credits;
  • [0007]
    a currency converter arranged to convert from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
  • [0008]
    a game controller arranged to implement a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits,
  • [0009]
    the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance of second credits on a second credit meter of the plurality of credit meters; and
  • [0010]
    an exchange rate controller arranged to control an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
  • [0011]
    In an embodiment, the gaming system includes:
  • [0012]
    a currency input mechanism and a currency output mechanism in data communication with the currency to converter.
  • [0013]
    In an embodiment, the exchange rate controller controls an exchange rate between second credits and currency to thereby control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits.
  • [0014]
    In an embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to make an award of second credits.
  • [0015]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to make the award of second credits in response to play of the game.
  • [0016]
    In an embodiment, the game controller makes the award of second credits in respect of a winning outcome of the game.
  • [0017]
    In an embodiment, a further controller in data communication with the game controller is arranged to make the award of second credits.
  • [0018]
    In an embodiment, the further controller is at least one of a jackpot controller, a bonus controller, a community game controller, a link game controller, or a group game controller.
  • [0019]
    In an embodiment, the gaming system is arranged to control when the player is entitled to convert first credits to second credits.
  • [0020]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to award an entitlement to convert first credits to second credits.
  • [0021]
    In an embodiment, the gaming system is further arranged to control when the player is entitled to convert second credits to first credits.
  • [0022]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to award an entitlement to convert second credits to first credits.
  • [0023]
    In an embodiment, the exchange rate controller is arranged to control the exchange rate between credits and second credits as a function of a hit rate for one or more game outcomes.
  • [0024]
    In an embodiment, the gaming system includes a plurality of gaming devices each having a game controller, and the exchange rate controller is arranged to control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits based on turnover on the plurality of gaming devices.
  • [0025]
    In an embodiment, the plurality of credit meters includes at least one additional credit meter each for storing an additional type of credits, such that in combination with the second credits there are plural types of credits in the system different to the first credits, the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance in any one of the plural types of credits different to the first credits on respective credit meters, and the exchange rate controller controls an effective rate of exchange between each type of credits and first credits, such that there are plural types of credits whose value varies relative to the first credit.
  • [0026]
    In an embodiment, the first credits are normal credits and the gaming system is arranged such that it is only possible to exchange between normal credits and currency.
  • [0027]
    In a second aspect, the invention provides a game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to:
  • [0028]
    convert from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
  • [0029]
    store first credits with a first credit meter;
  • [0030]
    conduct a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits;
  • [0031]
    enable a player to establish a balance of second credits on an second credit meter; and
  • [0032]
    control an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
  • [0033]
    In an embodiment, the exchange rate between first credits and second credits is controlled by controlling an exchange rate between second credits and currency to thereby control.
  • [0034]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to make an award of second credits in response to play of the game.
  • [0035]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to make the award of second credits in respect of a winning outcome of the game.
  • [0036]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to award an entitlement to convert first credits to second credits.
  • [0037]
    In an embodiment, the game controller is arranged to award an entitlement to convert second credits to first credits.
  • [0038]
    In an embodiment, the exchange rate controller is arranged to control the exchange rate between credits and second credits as a function of a hit rate for one or more game outcomes.
  • [0039]
    In an embodiment, the plurality of credit meters includes at least one additional credit meter each for storing an additional type of credits, such that in combination with the second credits there are plural types of credits in the system different to the first credits, the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance in any one of these types of credits on respective credit meters, and the exchange rate controller controls an effective rate of exchange between each type of credits and first credits, such that there are plural types of credits whose value varies relative to the first credit.
  • [0040]
    In an embodiment, the first credits are normal credits and the game controller is arranged such that it is only possible to exchange between normal credits and currency.
  • [0041]
    In a third aspect, the invention provides a method in a gaming system including:
  • [0042]
    converting from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
  • [0043]
    storing first credits with a first credit meter;
  • [0044]
    conducting a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits;
  • [0045]
    enabling a player to establish a balance of second credits on an second credit meter; and
  • [0046]
    controlling an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
  • [0047]
    In an embodiment, the method includes controlling an exchange rate between second credits and currency to thereby control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits.
  • [0048]
    In an embodiment, the method includes making an award of second credits.
  • [0049]
    In an embodiment, the method includes making the award of second credits in response to play of the game.
  • [0050]
    In an embodiment, the method includes making the award of second credits in respect of a winning outcome of the game.
  • [0051]
    In an embodiment, the method includes controlling when the player is entitled to convert first credits to second credits.
  • [0052]
    In an embodiment, the method includes awarding an entitlement to convert first credits to second credits.
  • [0053]
    In an embodiment, the method includes controlling when the player is entitled to convert second credits to first credits.
  • [0054]
    In an embodiment, the method includes awarding an entitlement to convert second credits to first credits.
  • [0055]
    In an embodiment, the method includes controlling the exchange rate between credits and second credits as a function of a hit rate for one or more game outcomes.
  • [0056]
    In an embodiment, the method includes controlling the exchange rate between first credits and second credits based on turnover on a plurality of gaming devices.
  • [0057]
    In an embodiment, the method includes enabling a player to establish a balance in any one of plural types of credits different to the first credits and controlling an effective rate of exchange between each type of credits and first credits, such that there are plural types of credits whose value varies relative to the first credit.
  • [0058]
    In an embodiment, the first credits are normal credits and it is only possible to exchange between normal credits and currency.
  • [0059]
    In a fourth aspect, the invention provides computer program code which when executed by a gaming system implements the above method.
  • [0060]
    In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a computer readable storage medium including the above program code.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0061]
    Certain embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
  • [0062]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the core components of a gaming system;
  • [0063]
    FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a stand alone gaming machine;
  • [0064]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the functional components of a gaming machine;
  • [0065]
    FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of the functional components of a memory;
  • [0066]
    FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a network gaming system;
  • [0067]
    FIG. 6 is a further block diagram of a gaming system;
  • [0068]
    FIG. 7 is block diagram of another embodiment of a gaming system;
  • [0069]
    FIG. 8 is a flow chart of an embodiment; and
  • [0070]
    FIG. 9 is an example, of a multi-credit type display.
  • [0071]
    The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of certain embodiments of the present invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, certain embodiments are shown in the drawings. It should be understood, however, that the present invention is not limited to the arrangements and instrumentality shown in the attached drawings.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0072]
    Although the following discloses example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus including, among other components, software executed on hardware, it should be noted that such methods and apparatus are merely illustrative and should not be considered as limiting. For example, it is contemplated that any or all of these hardware and software components could be embodied exclusively in hardware, exclusively in software, exclusively in firmware, or in any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware. Accordingly, while the following describes example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus, the examples provided are not the only way to implement such methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus.
  • [0073]
    When any of the appended claims are read to cover a purely software and/or firmware implementation, at least one of the elements in an at least one example is hereby expressly defined to include a tangible medium such as a memory, DVD, CD, Blu-ray, etc., storing the software and/or firmware.
  • [0074]
    Referring to the drawings, there are shown gaming systems where a player establishes a credit balance by converting currency to first, normal credits. The gaming system is arranged to allow a player to establish a balance of second, alternative credits. In one example, the player is awarded alternative credits as part of play of a game. The gaming systems are arranged to vary an exchange rate between first and second credits. In some embodiments there are other types of credits (third, fourth etc.) and variable exchange rates for each type.
  • General Construction of Gaming System
  • [0075]
    The gaming system can take a number of different forms. In a first form, the gaming system is provided by a stand alone gaming machine and the components to implement the game are present in a player operable gaming machine.
  • [0076]
    In a second form, the gaming system is analogous to the first form, in that a single gaming device is provided but in a distributed architecture, where some of the components to implement the game are present in a player operable gaming machine and some of the components to implement the game are located remotely relative to the gaming machine. For example, a “thick client” architecture may be used wherein part of the game is executed on a player operable gaming machine and part of the game is executed remotely, such as by a gaming server; or a “thin client” architecture may be used wherein most of the game is executed remotely such as by a gaming server and a player operable gaming machine is used only to display audible and/or visible gaming information to the player and receive gaming inputs from the player. This is commonly known as a server based gaming.
  • [0077]
    However, it will be understood that other arrangements are envisaged. For example, an architecture may be provided wherein a gaming machine is networked to a gaming server and the respective functions of the gaming machine and the gaming server are selectively modifiable. For example, the gaming system may operate in stand alone gaming machine mode, “thick client” mode or “thin client” mode depending on the game being played, operating conditions, and so on. Other client/server configurations are possible, and further details of a client/server architecture can be found in WO 2006/052213 and PCT/SE2006/000559, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0078]
    In the first and second forms, the gaming system has several core components. At the broadest level, the core components are a player interface 50 and a game controller 60 as illustrated in FIG. 1. The player interface is arranged to enable manual interaction between a player and the gaming system and for this purpose includes the input/output components for the player to enter instructions to play the game and observe the game outcomes.
  • [0079]
    Components of the player interface may vary from embodiment to embodiment but will typically include a currency mechanism 52 to enable a player to input currency and establish a balance of credits as well as to receive payouts, one or more displays 54, a game play mechanism 56 including one or more input devices that enable a player to input game play instructions (e.g. to place a wager), and one or more speakers 58.
  • [0080]
    The game controller 60 is in data communication with the player interface and typically includes a processor 62 that processes the game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and outputs game play outcomes to the display. In the first and second forms, components for implementing the invention, particularly, an exchange rate controller (described below) are provided by the game controller. Typically, the game play rules are stored as program code in a memory 64 but can also be hardwired. Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server.
  • [0081]
    In a third form, the gaming system includes one or more gaming devices of the first and/or second forms and at least one additional component connected in a network. The additional component may be an exchange rate controller (for example, which controls the exchange rate across plural gaming machines) or a controller which enables a player to obtain a balance of alternative credits such as bonus controller.
  • Stand Alone Gaming Machine
  • [0082]
    A gaming system in the form of a stand alone gaming machine 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The gaming machine 10 includes a console 12 having a display 14 on which are displayed representations of a game 16 that can be played by a player. A mid-trim 20 of the gaming machine 10 houses a bank of buttons 22 for enabling a player to interact with the gaming machine, in particular during game play. The mid-trim 20 also houses a currency input mechanism 24 which in this example includes a coin input chute 24A and a bill collector 24B. The gaming machine processes the amount of currency and converts it into credits at a fixed exchange rate. Other currency input mechanisms may also be employed, for example, a card reader for reading a smart card, debit card or credit card. Other gaming machines may be configured for ticket in such that they have a ticket reader for reading tickets having a currency value and crediting the player based on the face value of the ticker. A player marketing module (not shown) having a reading device may also be provided for the purpose of reading a player tracking device, for example as part of a loyalty program. The player tracking device may be in the form of a card, flash drive or any other portable storage medium capable of being read by the reading device. In some embodiments, the player marketing module may provide an additional currency mechanism, either by transferring currency to the gaming machine from a balance of currency stored on the player tracking device or by transferring currency from a player account in data communication with the player marketing module.
  • [0083]
    A top box 26 may carry artwork 28, including for example pay tables and details of bonus awards and other information or images relating to the game. Further artwork and/or information may be provided on a front panel 29 of the console 12. A coin tray 30 is mounted beneath the front panel 29 for dispensing cash payouts from the gaming machine 10.
  • [0084]
    The display 14 shown in FIG. 2 is in the form of a video display unit, particularly a cathode ray tube screen device. Alternatively, the display 14 may be a liquid crystal display, plasma screen, any other suitable video display unit, or the visible portion of an electromechanical device. The top box 26 may also include a display, for example a video display unit, which may be of the same type as the display 14, or of a different type.
  • [0085]
    FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of operative components of a typical gaming machine which may be the same as or different to the gaming machine of FIG. 2.
  • [0086]
    The gaming machine 100 includes a game controller 101 having a processor 102 mounted on a circuit board. Instructions and data to control operation of the processor 102 are stored in a memory 103, which is in data communication with the processor 102. Typically, the gaming machine 100 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 103.
  • [0087]
    The gaming machine has hardware meters 104 for purposes including ensuring regulatory compliance and monitoring player credit, an input/output (I/O) interface 105 for communicating with peripheral devices of the gaming machine 100. The input/output interface 105 and/or the peripheral devices may be intelligent devices with their own memory for storing associated instructions and data for use with the input/output interface or the peripheral devices. A random number generator module 113 generates random numbers for use by the processor 102. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the reference to random numbers includes pseudo-random numbers.
  • [0088]
    In the example shown in FIG. 3, a player interface 120 includes peripheral devices that communicate with the game controller 101 including one or more displays 106, a touch screen and/or buttons 107 (which provide a game play mechanism), a card and/or ticket reader 108, a printer 109, a bill acceptor and/or coin input mechanism 110 and a coin output mechanism 111. Additional hardware may be included as part of the gaming machine 100, or hardware may be omitted based on the specific implementation. For example, while buttons or touch screens are typically used in gaming machines to allow a player to place a wager and initiate a play of a game any input device that enables the player to input game play instructions may be used. For example, in some gaming machines a mechanical handle is used to initiate a play of the game.
  • [0089]
    In addition, the gaming machine 100 may include a communications interface, for example a network card 112. The network card may, for example, send status information, accounting information or other information to a bonus controller, central controller, server or database and receive data or commands from the bonus controller, central controller, server or database. In embodiments employing a player marketing module, communications over a network may be via player marketing module—i.e. the player marketing module may be in data communication with one or more of the above devices and communicate with it on behalf of the gaming machine.
  • [0090]
    FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of the main components of an exemplary memory 103. The memory 103 includes RAM 103A, EPROM 103B and a mass storage device 103C. The RAM 103A typically temporarily holds program files for execution by the processor 102 and related data. The EPROM 103B may be a boot ROM device and/or may contain some system or game related code. The mass storage device 103C is typically used to store game programs, the integrity of which may be verified and/or authenticated by the processor 102 using protected code from the EPROM 103B or elsewhere.
  • [0091]
    FIG. 6 is a functional block diagram of a player interface 50 and game controller suitable for implementation in the form of a standalone gaming machine but also generally applicable to a client/server arrangement. In FIG. 6, the processor 62 of game controller 60 is shown implementing a number of modules based on program code and data stored in memory 64. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that various of the modules could be implemented in some other way, for example by a dedicated circuit.
  • [0092]
    The player uses the currency mechanism 52 (e.g. a bill validator) to input currency. The game controller includes a currency converter 624 which converts the amount in currency to an amount in first (normal) credits and stores the value in first credit meter 642B. The meters 642 are stored in a non-volatile part of memory 64.
  • [0093]
    The player operates the game play mechanism 56 to specify the wager which will be evaluated for this play of the game and to initiate a play of the game. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that the wager establishes in effect a win entitlement and this may vary from game to game dependent on player selections. In most spinning reel games, it is typical for the player's entitlement to be affected by the amount they wager and selections they make (i.e. the nature of the wager). For example, a player's win entitlement may be based on how many lines they play in each game—e.g. a minimum of one line up to the maximum number of lines allowed by the game (noting that not all permutations of win lines may be available for selection). Such win lines are typically formed by a combination of symbol display positions, one from each reel, the symbol display positions being located relative to one another such that they form a line.
  • [0094]
    In many games, the player's win entitlement is not strictly limited to the lines they have selected, for example, “scatter” pays are awarded independently of a player's selection of pay lines and are an inherent part of the win entitlement.
  • [0095]
    Persons skilled in the art, will appreciate that in other embodiments, the player may obtain a win entitlement by selecting a number of reels to play. Such games are marketed under the trade name “Reel Power” by Aristocrat Leisure Industries Pty Ltd. The selection of the reel means that each displayed symbol of the reel can be substituted for a symbol at one or more designated display positions. In other words, all symbols displayed at symbol display positions corresponding to a selected reel can be used to form symbol combinations with symbols displayed at a designated, symbol display positions of the other reels. For example, if there are five reels and three symbol display positions for each reel such that the symbol display positions include three rows of five symbol display positions, the symbols displayed in the centre row are used for non-selected reels. As a result, the total number of ways to win is determined by multiplying the number of active display positions of each reels, the active display positions being all display positions of each selected reel and the designated display position of the non-selected reels. As a result for five reels and fifteen display positions there are 243 ways to win.
  • [0096]
    In other embodiments a player win entitlement may be affected by purchasing access to particular pay tables—e.g. a first bet amount entitles the player to wins including cherries and a second amount entitles them to wins including plums.
  • [0097]
    Once a player has operated game play mechanism 56 to place a wager and initiate a play of the game, outcome generator 622 operates in response to the player's operation of and generates a game outcome which is then be evaluated by outcome evaluator 623. For example, in a spinning reel game, the outcome generator will select symbols from an ordered set of symbols for each of a plurality of reels using random number generator 621. In one example, the outcome generator can select the symbols by randomly selecting a stop position for each reel. The selected symbols are advised to the display controller 625 which causes them to be displayed on display 54 at a set of symbol display positions. In one example, three symbols of each of five reels may be displayed such that symbols are displayed at fifteen display positions on display 54. It is known to use a probability table stored in memory 64 to vary the odds of a particular stop position being selected. Other techniques can be used to control the odds of particular outcomes occurring to thereby control the return to player of the game. In a spinning reel game, a game involves the reels being “spun” at least once—e.g. new symbols of the reels are selected for display at the display positions and the reel is either physically or virtually spun to a stop. Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that there may be more than one spin in a play of a gaming machine such as is the case when a series of free spins is awarded.
  • [0098]
    In FIG. 6, the outcome evaluator 623 is shown as including an alternative credit awarder 623A and a conversion awarder 623B. In the embodiment, there is a pay table 644 which specifies certain game outcomes (for example combinations of symbols in the spinning reel game) which result in an award of alternative credits rather than normal credits. When such awards are made they are added to the relevant one of the alternative credit meters 642C,642D, 642E. In this respect it will be appreciated that in this embodiment there are plural different forms of alternative credits which are shown as second, third and nth credits. These credits are shown to the player when the win occurs on the win meter 642A, however, the embodiment is arranged such that the player cannot simply cash out their alternative credits to the normal credit meter but rather must first be awarded a conversion opportunity. Again, a conversion is awarded by the conversion awarder 623B when a particular outcome listed in the pay table corresponding to a conversion award is made. In other embodiments, the conversion awarder 623B may be independent of the outcome evaluator 623, for example conversion awards may be made as a function of turnover. When a conversation award is made, the player can decide whether to convert credits from one of the alternative credit formats to normal credits and store them on the normal credit meter 642A (or to make as specific conversion if a specific conversion entitlement is awarded). In other embodiments, the player may be made an award in which they can convert normal credits into alternative credits. Credit conversions are handled by inter-credit converter 626 which converts the credits based on the current exchange rate 643. Inter-credit converter 626 also includes an exchange rate controller 626A which controls the current exchange rate between first, normal credits and each of the alternative credits. Depending on the embodiment, the entitlement to convert may be kept (e.g. for a defined time or indefinitely) or must be used at once.
  • [0099]
    The exchange rate controller 626A can be configured in a number of different manners depending on the type of variations that are involved/required between the alternative credits 642C to 642E and normal credits 642B. For example, some jurisdictions may allow the exchange rate to increase over time in order to reward longer periods of play. Other embodiments may involve/require the return to player to be independent of time and accordingly the variations in exchange rate are arranged to average around a particular return. In one example, the exchange rate is controlled based on the hit rate of certain outcomes. In one example, the exchange rate may be a function of the predicted hit rate on the game machine and actual hit rate. For example if an outcome is expected to occur every 50 spins and involves an award of 10 “second” credits, the second credits may be treated as rarer after 70 spins have occurred leading to an increase in their value at that point in time but decreased in value if the period of time since that combination was last hit is less than the expected hit rate. Data involved/required to calculate the exchange rates together with the current exchange rates is stored as exchange rate data 643.
  • [0100]
    Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in some embodiments, the player may be additionally or alternatively entitled to convert from alternative to normal credits at specific times, for example if they run out of normal credits or they intend to quit playing the game and cash out fully.
  • [0101]
    In other embodiments, as will be described in further detail below, the player may be entitled to store alternative credits for future gaming. In such embodiments, it is preferable that the value of alternative credits is consistent from machine to machine even if the value of currency to currency changes from machine to machine (although, it will be fixed for each machine).
  • [0102]
    FIG. 9 shows an exemplary display after a play of a gaming machine as shown illustrated in FIG. 6. A game outcome (not shown) is displayed in game display area 54A of display 54. Above the game display area 54A are displayed under the headings win 910, credits 920, exchange rates 930, an example where there are four alternative credits in addition to normal credits. The display shows that a player has just won 500 “lions” which is one form of alternative credits. The display also shows that the player currently has a balance of 1245 normal credits, 3200 lions, 423 tigers, 0 zebras and 1200 monkeys. Exchange rate column 930 shows that lions have a value of 0.2 credits, tigers have a value of 5 credits, zebras have a value of 20 credits and monkeys have a value of 0.1 credits at the current time.
  • [0103]
    An example a method of gaming is illustrated in the flowchart of FIG. 8. FIG. 8 depicts an example flow diagram representative of processes that may be implemented using, for example, computer readable instructions that may be used to facilitate game play. The example processes of FIG. 8 may be performed using a processor, a controller and/or any other suitable processing device. For example, the example processes of FIG. 8 may be implemented using coded instructions (e.g., computer readable instructions) stored on a tangible computer readable medium such as a flash memory, a read-only memory (ROM), and/or a random-access memory (RAM). As used herein, the term tangible computer readable medium is expressly defined to include any type of computer readable storage and to exclude propagating signals. Additionally or alternatively, the example processes of FIG. 8 may be implemented using coded instructions (e.g., computer readable instructions) stored on a non-transitory computer readable medium such as a flash memory, a read-only memory (ROM), a random-access memory (RAM), a cache, or any other storage media in which information is stored for any duration (e.g., for extended time periods, permanently, brief instances, for temporarily buffering, and/or for caching of the information). As used herein, the term non-transitory computer readable medium is expressly defined to include any type of computer readable medium and to exclude propagating signals.
  • [0104]
    Alternatively, some or all of the example processes of FIG. 8 may be implemented using any combination(s) of application specific integrated circuit(s) (ASIC(s)), programmable logic device(s) (PLD(s)), field programmable logic device(s) (FPLD(s)), discrete logic, hardware, firmware, etc. Also, some or all of the example processes of FIG. 8 may be implemented manually or as any combination(s) of any of the foregoing techniques, for example, any combination of firmware, software, discrete logic and/or hardware. Further, although the example processes of FIG. 8 are described with reference to the flow diagram of FIG. 8, other methods of implementing the processes of FIG. 8 may be employed. For example, the order of execution of the blocks may be changed, and/or some of the blocks described may be changed, eliminated, sub-divided, or combined. Additionally, any or all of the example processes of FIG. 8 may be performed sequentially and/or in parallel by, for example, separate processing threads, processors, devices, discrete logic, circuits, etc.
  • [0105]
    As shown in FIG. 8, the method 800 of one embodiment involves converting 810 currency to normal credits at a fixed rate, storing 820 normal credits in the normal credit meter, and conducting the game 830 with normal credits. The method also involves establishing 840 a balance of alternative credits, and controlling 850 the exchange rate between normal and alternative credits to vary over time.
  • [0106]
    Further aspects of the method will be apparent from the above description of the gaming system. Persons skilled in the art will also appreciate that the method could be embodied in program code. The program code could be supplied in a number of ways, for example on a tangible computer readable storage medium, such as a disc or a memory (for example, that could replace part of memory 103) or as a data signal (for example, by transmitting it from a server).
  • Networked Gaming System
  • [0107]
    FIG. 5 shows a gaming system 200 of the third form. The gaming system 200 includes a network 201, which for example may be an Ethernet network. Gaming machines 202, shown arranged in three banks 203 of two gaming machines 202 in FIG. 5, are connected to the network 201. The gaming machines 202 may be the same as the gaming machines 10,100 shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. While banks 203 of two gaming machines are illustrated in FIG. 5, banks of one, three or more gaming machines are also envisaged.
  • [0108]
    One or more displays 204 may also be connected to the network 201. For example, the displays 204 may be associated with one or more banks 203 of gaming machines. The displays 204 may be used to display representations associated with game play on the gaming machines 202, and/or used to display other representations, for example promotional or informational material.
  • [0109]
    In a thick client embodiment, the exchange rate controller is provided on server 205. A database management server 206 may manage storage of game programs and associated data for downloading or access by the gaming devices 202 in a database 206A. Typically, if the gaming system enables players to participate in a Jackpot game, a Jackpot server 207 will be provided to perform accounting functions for the Jackpot game. A loyalty program server 212 may also be provided and may be configured to act as a bonus controller to provide bonus awards to players. In some embodiments, these awards may only available to loyalty program members, in other embodiments, the may be available to all players. One or more of the servers may act as another type of controller including as a community game controller (also known as group or linked games). In other embodiments, a community game controller or bonus is dedicated to a bank of gaming machines. In some embodiments, at least one controller in the form a jackpot controller, a bonus controller, a community game controller, a link game controller, a group game controller, or the like is arranged to award a player alternative credits.
  • [0110]
    Servers are also typically provided to assist in the administration of the gaming system 200, including for example a gaming floor management server 208, and a licensing server 209 to monitor the use of licenses relating to particular games. An administrator terminal 210 is provided to allow an administrator to run the network 201 and the devices connected to the network.
  • [0111]
    The gaming system 200 may communicate with other gaming systems, other local networks, for example a corporate network, and/or a wide area network such as the Internet, for example through a firewall 211.
  • [0112]
    Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in accordance with known techniques, functionality at the server side of the network may be distributed over a plurality of different computers. For example, elements may be run as a single “engine” on one server or a separate server may be provided.
  • [0113]
    FIG. 7 shows in schematic form one example of a networked embodiment featuring N gaming machines 10 which communicate over a network (for example via player tracking module) with a number of network components 710, 720, 730. In this embodiment, the players of machines 10 can be awarded alternative credits by the individual gaming devices 10 as described in relation to FIG. 6 above. FIG. 7 shows that in addition to awards being made in alternative credits at individual gaming devices 10 awards can also be made by a bonus controller 720 which is data communication with each of the gaming devices 10. Bonus controller 720 may be configured to make awards based on turnover and loyalty rules associated with individual ones of the players. The gaming system 700 of FIG. 7 also includes an exchange rate controller 710 which determines exchange rates for each of the types of alternative credits, for example in an analogous manner to that described above. In one example, this may be based on turnover across the interconnected gaming machines 10. The network also includes a player credit storage 730 for enabling players to store their alternative credit balances against an account number or a player identification file.
  • Example 1
  • [0114]
    All wins are paid as per a pay table for 2, 3 and 4 of a kind. However, a 5 of a kind win also offers the winner a credit exchange award to have the win converted into an alternative credit type. In an example, the credits correspond to symbols which are used in the game, for example lions, tigers, zebras and monkeys. Each of the symbols has associated with it an initial exchange rate, for example 1 credit equals 7 lions, 1 credit equals 10 tigers, 1 credit equals 13 zebras and 1 credit equals 20 monkeys. In the example when a player wins a five tiger award, the award the player is entitled to covert this win to tiger credits. Accordingly if the win is worth 1000 credits and the current value is 7 tigers to a credit, then the player can purchase 7000 tigers.
  • [0115]
    The value of tigers is caused to vary over time. Accordingly, if the value of tigers relative to credits increases over time, the player will be able to cash out the tigers for more credits than were initially awarded, for example 12000 credits. The relevant exchange rates are displayed at all times in order to increase player excitement, for example that a win during the current exchange rate will allow them to convert credits into alternative credits at an advantageous exchange rate.
  • [0116]
    In the example, the player is also awarded an opportunity to convert alternative credits into normal credits. For example, the player may be allowed to convert each time they obtain a win over a certain value, in respect of specific outcomes, such as three scatter symbols appearing across reels, based on turnover, or based on an independent random determination.
  • [0117]
    It will apparent from the above that the embodiment is advantageous in that it does not allow the player to speculate as they must firstly achieve wins in order to be able to invest them. A particular advantage of the embodiment is that it will offer excitement at a period of time where a game can become less interesting to a player. For example, if a player has achieved a large win then other awards of credit may be diminished in comparison. However if the player is playing for a chance to convert that large win from alternative credits back to normal credits at an advantageous rate, this will maintain interest.
  • [0118]
    In some embodiments, the player may not have a choice as to whether they convert alternative credits to normal credits when a conversion is awarded. The conversion may occur automatically or be restricted to a particular type of credit.
  • Example 2
  • [0119]
    In a second example there is provided a global system such as casino wide or multi-site variable credit system which allows some games to do credit conversions. For example the conversions can be made when a player triggers a linked jackpot. In one example, a casino can issue a limited number of alternative credits, for example known as crowns at a floated exchange rate set initially at 1 credit equals 10 crowns. The casino would prefer the players to use crowns rather than credits so it adjusts the exchange rate to encourage players' to convert wins to crowns. In one example this adjustment is an automatic calculation done continuously. When the demand for crowns grows, the casino lifts its rate so that players will sell crowns for credits. This way there is always business on the floor and the total value of crowns is kept as a function of business on the floor. If there is not much activity, the rate will be low and it will encourage players to have their wins converted to crowns. As the players will want/require wins in order to convert from crowns to normal credits (and hence back to currency) they need to play for wins.
  • [0120]
    Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that it is possible to have several different types of alternate credit based on the volatility. For example, wins of at least 500 normal credits might only qualify for conversion which would make the conversions more speculative much as the volatility is higher. Lower volatility credits would have a more constant value.
  • [0121]
    Persons skilled in the art will appreciate that in an embodiment the exchange rate may be set in an intermediate form by controlling exchange rate between alternative credits and currency to thereby control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits.
  • [0122]
    It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, in particular it will be apparent that certain features of embodiments of the invention can be employed to form further embodiments.
  • [0123]
    For example, in some embodiments, an eligibility criteria may be applied, for example that the player has made a certain sized wager, made an ante bet, selected all win lines, played sufficient games, or the player is a member of a loyalty program in order to be eligible to obtain alternative credits. In other embodiments, a trigger event may be involved/required before alternative credits become available. The trigger event may be, a symbol combination in the game, occurrence of a specific symbol in the game, purchased, be caused by another connected controller, based on turnover etc.
  • [0124]
    It is to be understood that, if any prior art is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the prior art forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art in any country.
  • [0125]
    In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0126]
    It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments and/or aspects without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. For example, it will be apparent that certain features of the invention can be combined to form further embodiments. The present embodiments and aspects are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Several embodiments are described above with reference to the drawings. These drawings illustrate certain details of specific embodiments that implement the systems and methods and programs of the present invention. However, describing the invention with drawings should not be construed as imposing on the invention any limitations associated with features shown in the drawings. The present invention contemplates methods, systems and program products on any electronic device and/or machine-readable media suitable for accomplishing its operations. Certain embodiments of the present invention may be implemented using an existing computer processor and/or by a special purpose computer processor incorporated for this or another purpose or by a hardwired system, for example.
  • [0127]
    Embodiments within the scope of the present invention include program products comprising machine-readable media for carrying or having machine-executable instructions or data structures stored thereon. Such machine-readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. By way of example, such machine-readable media may comprise RAM, ROM, PROM, EPROM, EEPROM, Flash, CD-ROM, DVD, Blu-ray, or other optical disk storage, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to carry or store desired program code in the form of machine-executable instructions or data structures and which can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. When information is transferred or provided over a network or another communications connection (either hardwired, wireless, or a combination of hardwired or wireless) to a machine, the machine properly views the connection as a machine-readable medium. Combinations of the above are also included within the scope of machine-readable media. Machine-executable instructions comprise, for example, instructions and data which cause a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or special purpose processing machines to perform a certain function or group of functions.

Claims (39)

  1. 1. A gaming system comprising:
    a plurality of credit meters arranged to store different types of credits including a first credit meter for storing first credits;
    a currency converter arranged to convert from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
    a game controller arranged to implement a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits,
    the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance of second credits on a second credit meter of the plurality of credit meters; and
    an exchange rate controller arranged to control an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
  2. 2. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, comprising:
    a currency input mechanism and a currency output mechanism in data communication with the currency converter.
  3. 3. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the exchange rate controller controls an exchange rate between second credits and currency to thereby control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits.
  4. 4. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the gaming system is arranged to make an award of second credits.
  5. 5. A gaming system as claimed in claim 4, wherein the game controller is arranged to make the award of second credits in response to play of the game.
  6. 6. A gaming system as claimed in claim 5, wherein the game controller makes the award of second credits in respect of a winning outcome of the game.
  7. 7. A gaming system as claimed in claim 4, wherein a further controller in data communication with the game controller is arranged to make the award of second credits.
  8. 8. A gaming system as claimed in claim 7, wherein the further controller is at least one of a jackpot controller, a bonus controller, a community game controller, a link game controller, or a group game controller.
  9. 9. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, arranged to control when the player is entitled to convert first credits to second credits.
  10. 10. A gaming system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the game controller is arranged to award an entitlement to convert first credits to second credits.
  11. 11. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, further arranged to control when the player is entitled to convert second credits to first credits.
  12. 12. A gaming system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the game controller is arranged to award an entitlement to convert second credits to first credits.
  13. 13. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the exchange rate controller is arranged to control the exchange rate between credits and second credits as a function of a hit rate for one or more game outcomes.
  14. 14. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the gaming system comprises a plurality of gaming devices each having a game controller, and the exchange rate controller is arranged to control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits based on turnover on the plurality of gaming devices.
  15. 15. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the plurality of credit meters comprises at least one additional credit meter each for storing an additional type of credits, such that in combination with the second credits there are plural types of credits in the system different to the first credits, the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance in any one of the plural types of credits different to the first credits on respective credit meters, and the exchange rate controller controls an effective rate of exchange between each type of credits and first credits, such that there are plural types of credits whose value varies relative to the first credit.
  16. 16. A gaming system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first credits are normal credits and the gaming system is arranged such that it is only possible to exchange between normal credits and currency.
  17. 17. A game controller for a gaming system, the game controller arranged to:
    convert from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
    store first credits with a first credit meter;
    conduct a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits;
    enable a player to establish a balance of second credits on an second credit meter; and
    control an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
  18. 18. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, the exchange rate between first credits and second credits is controlled by controlling an exchange rate between second credits and currency to thereby control.
  19. 19. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, arranged to make an award of second credits in response to play of the game.
  20. 20. A game controller as claimed in claim 19, arranged to make the award of second credits in respect of a winning outcome of the game.
  21. 21. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, arranged to award an entitlement to convert first credits to second credits.
  22. 22. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, arranged to award an entitlement to convert second credits to first credits.
  23. 23. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, wherein the exchange rate controller is arranged to control the exchange rate between credits and second credits as a function of a hit rate for one or more game outcomes.
  24. 24. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, wherein the plurality of credit meters comprises at least one additional credit meter each for storing an additional type of credits, such that in combination with the second credits there are plural types of credits in the system different to the first credits, the gaming system arranged to enable a player to establish a balance in any one of these types of credits on respective credit meters, and the exchange rate controller controls an effective rate of exchange between each type of credits and first credits, such that there are plural types of credits whose value varies relative to the first credit.
  25. 25. A game controller as claimed in claim 17, wherein the first credits are normal credits and the game controller is arranged such that it is only possible to exchange between normal credits and currency.
  26. 26. A method in a gaming system comprising:
    converting from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
    storing first credits with a first credit meter;
    conducting a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits;
    enabling a player to establish a balance of second credits on an second credit meter; and
    controlling an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
  27. 27. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising controlling an exchange rate between second credits and currency to thereby control the exchange rate between first credits and second credits.
  28. 28. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising making an award of second credits.
  29. 29. A method as claimed in claim 28, comprising making the award of second credits in response to play of the game.
  30. 30. A method as claimed in claim 29, comprising making the award of second credits in respect of a winning outcome of the game.
  31. 31. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising controlling when the player is entitled to convert first credits to second credits.
  32. 32. A method as claimed in claim 31, comprising awarding an entitlement to convert first credits to second credits.
  33. 33. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising controlling when the player is entitled to convert second credits to first credits.
  34. 34. A method as claimed in claim 33, comprising awarding an entitlement to convert second credits to first credits.
  35. 35. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising controlling the exchange rate between credits and second credits as a function of a hit rate for one or more game outcomes.
  36. 36. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising controlling the exchange rate between first credits and second credits based on turnover on a plurality of gaming devices.
  37. 37. A method as claimed in claim 26, comprising enabling a player to establish a balance in any one of plural types of credits different to the first credits and controlling an effective rate of exchange between each type of credits and first credits, such that there are plural types of credits whose value varies relative to the first credit.
  38. 38. A method as claimed in claim 26, wherein the first credits are normal credits and it is only possible to exchange between normal credits and currency.
  39. 39. A tangible computer readable storage medium comprising computer program code which when executed by a gaming system implements a method of gaming comprising:
    converting from currency to first credits and from first credits to currency at a fixed rate;
    storing first credits with a first credit meter;
    conducting a game in which wagers are placed by a player in first credits;
    enabling a player to establish a balance of second credits on an second credit meter; and
    controlling an effective exchange rate between first credits and second credits to vary over time.
US12859058 2009-08-21 2010-08-18 Gaming system and a method of gaming Abandoned US20110045896A1 (en)

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