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US20110065497A1 - System for and method of electronically handling a casino marker - Google Patents

System for and method of electronically handling a casino marker Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110065497A1
US20110065497A1 US12945946 US94594610A US2011065497A1 US 20110065497 A1 US20110065497 A1 US 20110065497A1 US 12945946 US12945946 US 12945946 US 94594610 A US94594610 A US 94594610A US 2011065497 A1 US2011065497 A1 US 2011065497A1
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screen
marker
patron
fig
shown
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US12945946
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Thompson B. Patterson, JR.
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eMarker LLC
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eMarker LLC
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/04Payment circuits
    • G06Q20/06Private payment circuits, e.g. involving electronic currency used among participants of a common payment scheme
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

This specification relates to a system for and method of handling an electronic marker for use at a gaming establishment, such as a casino. The electronic marker can be redeemed using cash or cash equivalents, casino valued currency (such as casino chips), or by electronic transfer of funds. In certain embodiments, the redemption of the markers is automated such that the markers are automatically redeemed by electronic transfer of funds if they are not manually redeemed within a predetermined period of time.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/868,957, filed Dec. 22, 2006 and co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/949,890, filed Dec. 4, 2007. The contents of the aforementioned applications are hereby incorporated by reference into this specification.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates, in one embodiment, to a system for and method of handling an electronic marker for use at a gaming establishment, such as a casino.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    A marker account is a draft account similar to a counter check from a bank provided by a gaming establishment that permits an individual to continue to gamble without carrying cash. A marker account may be a debit account where the individual's funds are held in escrow by the establishment or a line of credit is extended by the casino. When a person at a gambling table requests an X-dollar marker the pit boss is called to the table. The pit boss records the person's name and then verifies the person's account status by contacting the casino cage. The cage operator compares the specified amount (X-dollars) to the available limit (available debit or credit limit) in the account. The request is then approved or declined. If the request is approved, the specified amount is deducted from the available account balance (or credit limit) and the cage operator presents the pit boss with an unsigned marker for X-dollars. Upon being signed by the requester, the marker is returned to the cage and the requester is paid in casino chips (or other wagering media) with the same total value of X-dollars. The originally signed marker, also referred to as a counter check, is typically kept at the cage or at another secure location.
  • [0004]
    There are primarily three methods for the requester to redeem or repay the marker. Firstly, the requester of the marker can provide the necessary funds to redeem the marker outright. For example, the requester can redeem the marker by providing cash or a personal check for X-dollars. Upon delivery of the requisite funds to the cage operator, the requester is given the originally signed marker. The cage operator typically retains a carbon copy of the original marker to ensure the casino has a complete record of all marker transactions. Secondly, the requester of the marker can redeem the marker by providing X-dollars in casino currency, such as casino chips. Thirdly, if the marker was based on a line of credit, the marker itself provides the requester's bank routing number and account number such that the marker can be cashed or deposited like a check. Should the requester of the marker fail to redeem the marker within a predetermined time period (typically one to two weeks), then the casino may cash the originally signed marker as a check in payment of the outstanding balance. Some casinos will send an invoice to the requester prior to cashing the marker. For example, the casino may send an invoice to the requester's residence address when the requester departs from a stay at the hotel in which the casino is located. The requester is granted a period of time, for example, thirty days, within which to pay the invoice. If the marker has not been redeemed within thirty-one days, then the marker may be cashed by the casino.
  • [0005]
    Unfortunately, the aforementioned process is cumbersome, slow and prone to error. If multiple players are requesting markers, the pit boss can service only one such player at a time. The cage operator is likewise limited. Additionally, the extensive paperwork that is generated by the current marker system places a significant burden on the gaming establishment. Redemption of markers is also a time-consuming and inconvenient process for patrons. Great care must be taken to ensure no markers or payments are lost or inappropriately issued. Theft of the original marker is also a cause for concern.
  • [0006]
    It would therefore be desirable to provide a system for handling markers which is a substantial improvement over existing marker management systems. Advantageously, such a system reduces the use of paper, reduces manpower requirements, is quicker and more secure, and minimizes errors and improves customer service.
  • [0007]
    Other electronic gaming systems are known in the prior art which have attempted to address similar problems. Unfortunately, none have proven entirely satisfactory. Reference may be had to U.S. Pat. No. 6,394,907 to Rowe (Cashless Transaction Clearinghouse); U.S. Pat. No. 6,547,131 to Foodman et al. (Preset Amount Electronic Funds Transfer System for Gaming Machines); U.S. Pat. No. 6,739,972 to Flanagan-Parks et al. (Credit System for Gaming Machines and Gaming Tables); U.S. Pat. No. 6,758,393 to Luciano et al. (Mobile Cashier Terminal); U.S. Pat. No. 6,997,807 to Weiss (Cashless Gaming System: Apparatus and Method) and the like.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    The invention comprises, in one form thereof, a system for and method of handling an electronic marker at a gaming establishment. In one aspect of the invention, the marker is a line of credit secured by a cash account from which funds may be transferred by electronic means, such as EFT or ACH.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0009]
    The present invention is disclosed with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • [0010]
    FIG. 1 is a flow diagram of one process of handling an electronic marker;
  • [0011]
    FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a process for requesting an electronic marker;
  • [0012]
    FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of one process for verifying an electronic marker request;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a process for purchasing an electronic marker;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of one receipt of the present invention;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration of an invoice for use with the present invention;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration of a basic configuration of a system in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 8 is a perspective illustration of a preferred, rechargeable, hand-held, mobile device adapted to be disposed in a charging and storage base that may be employed in the system shown in FIG. 7;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 9 is partial rear view illustration of a bar code reader mounted on the mobile device shown in FIG. 8;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 10 is a perspective illustration of a magnetic strip reader including an electrical wire for connection to the mobile device shown in FIG. 8;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 11 is a bottom view illustration of the mobile device shown in FIG. 8;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 12 is a perspective illustration of a charging and storage base in which the mobile device shown in FIG. 8 is adapted to be selectively disposed;
  • [0022]
    FIG. 13 is a perspective illustration of the mobile device shown in FIG. 8 disposed in the charging and storage device of FIG. 12;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 14 is a plan view of an image displayed on a touch screen display of the mobile device shown in FIG. 8;
  • [0024]
    FIGS. 15-47 are plan views of yet other images displayed on the touch screen display of the mobile device shown in FIG. 8;
  • [0025]
    Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. The examples set out herein illustrate several embodiments of the invention, but should not be construed as limiting the nature or scope of the invention in any manner.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0026]
    Referring to FIG. 1, the process 100 depicts a flow diagram in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Process 100 exemplifies one method for electronically handling a marker. It should be noted that the steps described in FIG. 1 are presented in a certain order so as to more clearly describe the invention. However, the order of such steps may be changed and/or selected steps may be omitted when practicing certain embodiments of the invention. As such, the Figures illustrate merely examples and should not be construed as limiting the invention in any way.
  • [0027]
    Process 100 is initiated in step 102, wherein a marker request is received. As known by those skilled in the gambling art, a marker typically is a signed draft against funds or credit maintained at a gaming establishment, such as a casino. In one embodiment, the draft is against a line of credit previously established by the casino for an individual person or entity. In such an embodiment, drafts against the marker account represent use of the credit. To establish such a line of credit, the requester of the marker account applies to the gaming establishment. A credit check is performed against the background of the requester and an appropriate credit limit is established. In another embodiment, the draft is against a debit account which contains a sum of money deposited with the casino by the individual. In such an embodiment, drafts are drawn against such escrowed funds. It is important to note that, in certain aspects of the invention, the issuer of the credit is the gaming establishment itself, rather than a third-party credit source, e.g., a bank, financial institution, or credit card company. Third-party credit sources often charge service fees to clients for issuing cash advances. Since, in certain aspects of the invention, the establishment is the issuer of the credit, such establishment can control, or preferably eliminate, such service fees. Once such a debit or credit account is established, an authorized individual can request markers against such account. One such request is made in step 102.
  • [0028]
    In step 102 of process 100, the gaming establishment receives a marker request from the authorized individual. Such a request may come in the form of a verbal request to a table operator, dealer, casino employee, cage operator, or other agent of the gaming establishment. In another embodiment, such a request comes over a network connection, such as the internet, or through another electronic medium, such as a self-serve electronic terminal. Such network requests are particularly well-suited for use with internet-based gaming establishments. Once an establishment is aware of a marker request, the establishment seeks to properly identify if the requester is authorized to use the account. The establishment requests and receives identifying information from the requester.
  • [0029]
    In step 104 the establishment receives identifying information concerning the requester of the marker. Such identifying information typically comprises data which can be correlated to data already on file with the marker account. Such a correlation step may include referring to a database. When the requester is physically present, the identifying information received may include the requester's physical appearance. In one embodiment, the requester provides a form of electronically readable information, such as a card with a magnetically readable stripe with information stored in a digital format that is optically readable, such as a barcode. In yet another embodiment, such information is transmitted using encrypted electromagnetic waves, such as radio waves. The card may be imbedded with information necessary to identify the account of the requester, such as an account number or a primary key. Alternative forms of identification may includes a State issued identification card. In another embodiment, the same form of identification also correlates the instant requester to a history of play for such requester. The history of play may include, for example the amount of time spent at a given game, the amount of cash won or lost, the wager activity, and the like. Reference may be had to U.S. Pat. No. 6,951,302 to Potts (System and Method for Performing a Quasi-cash Transaction). In such an embodiment, the requester's driver's license number, name, or other such information is correlated to an account number by a relational database. In yet another embodiment, the requester verbally provides identifying information by giving, for example, a name, account number, telephone number, or the like.
  • [0030]
    In step 106 of process 100, a database is queried for marker account information based on the information provided by the requester in step 104. Such marker account information preferably includes an identifier such as a digital picture of an individual authorized to use the account and/or a digital picture of such individual's signature. Additionally, such marker account information also includes the credit limit and/or outstanding balance associated with the requester's account. The marker account information so retrieved also preferably includes the bank routing number and account number for at least one cash account that contains sufficient funds to secure the marker. For example, the bank routing number and account number for a checking or money market account may be contained in the marker account information. After such information is retrieved, one or more identifiers may be displayed to allow the opportunity to verify the identity of the requester. In addition to the identifier(s) being displayed, in some embodiments, certain marker account information is displayed.
  • [0031]
    In step 108, the identity of the requester is verified by comparing the identifying information provided by the requester to the identifier that resulted from the query of step 106. For example, the picture of the authorized individual retrieved during step 106 may be displayed and compared to the physical appearance of the requester. Alternatively or additionally, the requester may be asked to provide a signature, or digital signature capture, preferably on a touch pad, which is then compared to the digital picture of the signature retrieved in step 106. Other suitable identifiers are also contemplated for use with the present invention. For example, in one embodiment, the identifier is a biometric identifier. As is known to those skilled in the art, biometrics is the science of measuring physical properties of living beings. Examples of biometric data include retinal scans, infrared facial readings, feature spacing, fingerprint scans, and the like. Reference may be had to U.S. Pat. No. 6,935,951 to Paulsen et al. (Electronic Signature Capability in a Gaming Machine); U.S. Pat. No. 7,107,245 to Kowalock (Biometric Gaming Access System); U.S. Pat. No. 7,082,213 to Black (Method for Identity Verification); and the like. Other suitable biometric techniques would become apparent to those skilled in the art after benefiting from reading this specification. Such techniques are considered within the scope of the present invention.
  • [0032]
    Once the identity of the requester has been verified in step 108, step 110 is executed, wherein the requester authorizes the transaction in accordance with certain terms and the evidence of such authorization is digitally stored by the gaming establishment. In one preferred embodiment, the terms so authorized state that the marker is secured by a certain cash account (specified in the marker account information retrieved in step 106) such that, if the marker is no redeemed within a predetermined period of time, the gaming establishment is authorized to deduct the marker value from the cash account by electronic fund transfer (EFT) in redemption of such marker. In such an embodiment, the marker functions as a secured loan. Methods for performing such EFT are well known in the art. In one embodiment, Automated Clearing House (ACH) software is used. Evidence of the acceptance of such terms by the requester is preferably stored for later retrieval. Such evidence may be in the form of a signature that is provided on a touch-sensitive screen. In another embodiment, such evidence is in the form of a digitally recorded fingerprint or other digitally recorded biometric data. It is preferred that such evidence be digitally stored on the gaming establishment's internal computer network, or associated service model as software as a service active server pages (ASP), and associated with the instant marker request. In one embodiment, the software system of the gaming establishment automatically redeems markers by electronic transfer of funds when a marker reaches the predetermined age. In this manner, little or no personal intervention by a human being is necessary to handle the electronic marker.
  • [0033]
    In some embodiments, the gaming establishment is provided with an opportunity to approval or decline a marker request. Such an opportunity is provided in step 112. The establishment may choose to decline the marker request for a variety of reasons. In one embodiment, the status is found to unsatisfactory (the account has a low balance, is closed, etc.), the request may be declined. Alternatively or additionally, the request may be declined because the marker account itself has an insufficient limit left to cover the requested marker. Other reasons for declining the request include the identity of the requester not being verifiable, a note or flag being entered into the marker account information which may indicate a history of problems, or for any other suitable reason. In one embodiment, the requester may prearrange with the gaming establishment a set of prescribed limits or criteria that may, for example, put restraints on the requester's gambling impulses such as by limiting the amount the marker account may be depleted in any given time interval or such as by prohibiting any request made from a certain table pit area or other location in the casino. If any marker request would exceed such limits or criteria, then the gaming establishment may deny the marker request. In another embodiment, the gaming establishment may refuse a marker request if consecutive requests occur at times and places in the casino where it would be humanly impossible or unfeasible to be made by the authorized requester. In some embodiments, the execution of step 112 is logged to a database. This log may include, for example, the date stamp and timestamp of the request as well as other information pertaining to the request itself. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, such an opportunity to decline follows authorization by the requester (step 110). In another embodiment, not shown, such an opportunity to decline occurs prior to step 110. In yet another embodiment the data is retrieved (step 106), the identity of the requester is verified (step 108), and the approval decision (step 112) occur at substantially the same time. Should the establishment decide to approve the marker request, then step 114 is executed.
  • [0034]
    In step 114 of process 100, the desired marker value is deducted from the available limit (e.g. deducted from the credit limit or debited from the escrow funds). The updated limit is then associated with the marker account. In one embodiment, the marker account information, which includes evidence of authorization, current balance, and an itemized history of marker requests, is kept at the gaming establishment solely in electronic form. This account information may also include a time and date stamp that corresponds to the time and date each request was approved and may include the location where the request was approved. Advantageously, this reduces the dependency upon a paper filing system, printer, and associated labor costs, thereby decreases the operating expenses of the establishment. As a further advantage, a single invoice can contain an itemized history of multiple marker requests. This is a significant advantage over the prior art. Due to the paper-based nature of prior art marker systems, a carbon copy receipt was generated for each request. A given requester is likely to make dozens of marker requests during a single visit to the establishment. The volume of paperwork generated in such prior art systems is cumbersome to manage. In addition, the elimination of voids, or transactions which were incomplete, are eliminated using this system. By providing an single invoice with an itemized history of multiple marker requests, such paperwork and labor costs are substantially reduced.
  • [0035]
    In one embodiment, step 116, which is optional, is executed. In step 116, a drop copy is produced for use by the gaming establishment. The drop copy is used by the establishment to help balance the actual currency in a table dealer's rack with the expected currency in the rack. In one embodiment, when the drop copy is produced, one or more other departments in the establishment are notified electronically in real time. For example, one or more of the following departments maybe notified; the accountant, the cashier, the main cage, and the bank cage. In one embodiment, multiple departments are simultaneously notified. Casino currency may be provided to the requester before or after step 116.
  • [0036]
    Once the marker account has been updated, the requester is provided casino currency whose value is commensurate with the approved marker value. In one embodiment, the items so provided are casino chips, and their value is equal to the approved marker value. In another embodiment, the casino chips are provided, and a bonus or gift amount is also included as an incentive to induce customers to use the electronic marker system. In one embodiment, such a bonus amount is in the form of additional casino chips. In another embodiment, such a bonus amount is in the form of a gift certificate or other casino credit.
  • [0037]
    Referring now to FIG. 2, and the process 200 depicted therein, process 200 is a more detailed accounting of certain aspects of process 100 of FIG. 1. It should be recognized that the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2 is only one particular embodiment of one process of the present invention, and there is no intent to limit the invention to such a specific embodiment. Throughout the following example, the requester is assumed to be the individual performing many of the steps indicated. However, other individuals, such as agents of the establishment, may also perform such steps.
  • [0038]
    Process 200 is initiated when a gaming establishment receives a request to provide a marker. After making such a request, the requester provides identifying information to the gaming establishment. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2, the requester provides a magnetic stripe card which is passed through the magnetic stripe reader of an electronic device. Such an electronic device contains software necessary to execute the methods described in this specification. The device is comprised of a digital display and is preferably a hand-held device. Examples of suitable hand-held devices include personal digital assistants (PDA's), tablet computers, and especially tablet computers with touch sensitive screens. In one embodiment, the device is self-contained such that all necessary software, services, and databases are housed within the device. In another embodiment, the device is connected to a server through a network or the Internet, wherein such software, services, and databases are stored, at least in part, on the server. For example, a single server may host a database which relates a unique identifier to account numbers and thus to account information. Several user computers, which are connected to the server through a network or the Internet, can obtain a unique identifier using data such as a name, account number, telephone number, etc.) from a requester, submit such identifier to the server, and thus query the database directly or through a service to retrieve the marker account information. In one such embodiment, the connection to the server is a wireless connection. In another embodiment, certain data is stored on the user machines (such as the unique identifier and data associated with the unique identifier) and certain other data is stored on the server (such as the unique identifier and the other marker account information). Such an embodiment advantageously permits the user machines to verify the identity of a requester without utilizing the network, Internet, or server resources, while securely maintaining the marker account's financial information (such as the account numbers for the cash account) on a secure server. Such a secure server is kept in a location that is difficult for the general public to reach and requires adherence to specific and strict authentication protocols for electronic access.
  • [0039]
    Referring again to process 200, in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2, the identifying information is read by the card reader, and screen 202 is displayed. It is preferable that screen 202 be a touch-sensitive screen. The screen 202 may be located on a device disposed at a point-of-sale (such as a gaming table) or at a traditional point of transaction (such as the cage of a casino).
  • [0040]
    Referring again to screen 202, the requester of the marker is provided with a welcome screen which asks the requester if he or she would like to request or redeem a marker. If the requester selects “Redeem”, then process 400 of FIG. 4 is executed which permits the requester to buy a marker back. If the requester selects “Request”, then screen 204 is displayed which permits the requester to obtain a marker.
  • [0041]
    Screen 204 prompts the requester to indicate a desired marker value. In the embodiment depicted in screen 204, several predetermined values are presented, such as $500, $1000, $2000, etc. One value, “Other”, which has not been predetermined is also presented. The requester may select one of the predetermined values by pressing the touch-sensitive screen at the appropriate location. In another embodiment, where the screen is not touch-sensitive, the requester selects the desired value using an input device (not shown) such as a keyboard, keypad, mouse, or similar input device. Should the “Other” value be selected, an additional screen is presented (not shown) wherein the requester can input the desired amount. Once the desired marker value has been selected, the requester confirms the transaction.
  • [0042]
    In screen 206, which is optional, the device indicates what amount has been requested, thus confirming the selected amount is the desired marker value. The requester is asked to confirm the value (by pressing yes) or declining to proceed (by pressing no). If the requester declines, then screen 202, screen 204, or another suitable screen may be displayed. If the requester confirms the amount is correct, then authorization screen 208 is displayed.
  • [0043]
    Authorization screen 208 displays the terms of the marker agreement. If the requester declines such terms, then an earlier screen, such as screen 202 or 204, may be displayed and no marker is issued. In the embodiment depicted, the requester accepts such agreement by signing within the signature box on the touch-sensitive screen and thereafter pressing “accept”. This signature is one means for providing evidence of acceptance of the terms of the marker agreement. Such evidence of acceptance is then stored in a digital storage location, such as a network server, or a data storage unit disposed within the device itself. Other methods for providing evidence of acceptance include, but are not limited to, providing a personal identification number (PIN) or other password, or by providing a fingerprint or other biometric data. It is preferred that such evidence be stored digitally. In one embodiment, the signature is digitally stored until the marker is paid. In certain embodiments, the marker is printed with the digital signature displayed thereon. The printing may occur at a secure location, such as the casino cage, a casino accounting facility, or another secure location. Once the terms have been authorized, closing screen 210 is shown to the requester. The verification button on screen 210 initiates verification process 300 (see FIG. 3) that is preferably executed by an agent of the gaming establishment.
  • [0044]
    Referring now to FIG. 3 and verification process 300 depicted therein, process 300 is preferably initiated subsequent to process 200 and begins with the execution of security step 302, wherein a verification password is checked. Certain agents of the gaming establishment know this password. Such a security step, which is optional, helps strengthen the security associated with the verification process by ensuring that only authorized personnel can access the marker account information. In one embodiment, such a security step includes receiving both a user name and a password. In such embodiments, the verification system can track which agent of the gaming establishment verified the marker. If the correct password is entered, the device uses the identifying information provided to query a database for the marker account information which is associated with the identifying information. The marker account information is then displayed on screen 304.
  • [0045]
    Screen 304 of FIG. 3 includes marker account information such as picture 308 which is a digital photograph of an individual authorized to use the associated marker account. Box 306 contains other identifiers such as a name, address, telephone number, account number, and the like. Box 310 contains a digital photograph of a sample of the signature of the individual authorized to use the marker account. Box 312, which is optional, provides additional information such as, for example, the play history of the authorized individual or other notes associated with the account. For example, any security problems the establishment has had with the authorized individual may be listed here. Box 314 contains marker account information such as, for example, account limits (either a credit limit or the debit limit), outstanding balance, available balance, and the current (pending) transaction. Other marker account information may include the routing number and account number of the cash account which secures the marker account. In the embodiment depicted, the gaming establishment can see that the marker account is a line of credit that has $8,000 available credit and a $2,000 marker has been requested. The agent of the gaming establishment can decide to decline the request by pressing “Decline” or proceed with the verification and press “Approved.” If the verification is approved, step 316 is executed wherein the line of credit is debited (the outstanding balance becomes $4,000, the available balance becomes $6,000, and the pending balance becomes $0) and the marker is issued to the requester. The current $2,000 marker is recorded and entered into a transaction history file that is associated with the marker account. Other identifiers that may be displayed in screen 304 include, but are not limited to, biometric data such as fingerprint data. In one such embodiment, a software program compares the digital image of the biometric data to that obtained from the requester. Such a software program determines if the biometric data so provided matches the biometric data of record in the marker account. Other biometric data which may be stored in the marker account information and used as an identifier, but which need not be displayed, include voice recognition patterns, retinal scans, and similar data wherein a software program performs the comparison, rather than a human being.
  • [0046]
    FIG. 4 is a depiction of one method 400 for redeeming a marker. Screen 402 is presented when “Redeem” is selected from screen 202 of FIG. 2 after providing identifying information. In one embodiment, not shown, a security step precedes the display of screen 402 to ensure that only an agent of the gaming establishment can access the marker account information shown on screen 402. In yet another embodiment, such a security step ensures that only the authorized individual associated with the account can access the marker account information. For example, the authorized individual may access a marker account over a network, such as the internet. Such individual may choose to redeem the electronic markers through digital means—for example by electronic funds transfer or by credit card payment. In another embodiment, the display of screen 402 is optional. Screen 402 is similar in many respects to screen 304 of FIG. 3, but differs in that the options presented to the user are “History” and “Redeem” rather than “Decline” and “Approve”. If “History” is selected, then an itemized accounting (not shown) of certain past markers associated with the instant account is displayed along with their respective status (e.g. outstanding or redeemed) of each such marker. If “Redeem” is selected, then screen 404 is presented.
  • [0047]
    Screen 404 of FIG. 4 provides a method to indicate how much should be credited against the outstanding balance of the marker account. In the embodiment depicted in screen 404, several predetermined options are presented, such as $500, $1000, $2000, etc. One option, “Other,” which has not been predetermined, is also presented. The user may select one of the predetermined options by pressing the touch-sensitive screen at the appropriate location. In another embodiment, where the screen is not touch-sensitive, the user selects the desired denomination using an input device (not shown) such as an alphanumeric keyboard, a numeric keypad, a mouse, or similar input device. Should the “Other” option be selected, an additional screen is presented (not shown) wherein the requester can input the desired amount.
  • [0048]
    In another embodiment of screen 404, not shown, an itemized list of outstanding markers is presented and the user selects which marker is to be redeemed. In one such embodiment, the user is required to redeem the oldest marker first. In another embodiment, the user can select any outstanding marker to redeem. Once the user has selected the amount that is to be redeemed to the account, such an amount is verified in step 406.
  • [0049]
    In step 406 of method 400, the amount to be redeemed is verified. In one embodiment, an agent of the gaming establishment verifies the amount to be redeemed by, for example, counting the chips or cash provided by the requester, inspecting a check, approving the user of a credit card, or performing an electronic fund transaction using a debit card or similar transaction. In another embodiment, an electronic machine performs verification step 406 by counting tokens using a token counting machine, by reading a card with a magnetic stripe and performing the associated credit, debit, or transfer transaction, or by similar means. Once the redemption has been verified the device presents screen 408, which is optional, to confirm the redemption. The amount to be credited is displayed in confirmation screen 408. In some embodiments, not shown, the payor must provide evidence of authorizing such redemption. For example, when a credit or debit card is used, the user may be required to provide a digital signature on a touch-sensitive pad or PIN before the transaction can be verified and confirmed. Once the transaction is confirmed, the user presses “Proceed” and a receipt of such redemption is generated in step 410, which is optional.
  • [0050]
    In step 410 a receipt is generated for the payor. One such receipt is illustrated in FIG. 5. Receipt 500 is comprised of a payor record 504 and a payee record 502, separated by tearing the receipt at perforation 506 and providing payor record 504 to the payor. The payee may retain payee record 502. Receipt 500 contains certain information such as the payor's name, address, the redemption value, the redemption date, and the redemption method. In the embodiment depicted, the redemption is made by providing $2,000 in casino chips. In the embodiment depicted, only a partial account number may be the account number of the marker account and/or the account number of the account used to redeem the marker (such as a credit card or cash account). In another embodiment, an invoice, rather than a receipt is generated at certain intervals. Such an invoice is depicted in FIG. 6.
  • [0051]
    In FIG. 6, invoice 600 is shown. Invoice 600 is similar to receipt 500 of FIG. 5, but differs in that an amount due is listed, rather than an amount redeemed. In some embodiments, the gaming establishment will, at certain, intervals, generate invoice 600 for certain marker accounts which have non-zero balances. Such invoices can be mailed to the address of record which is associated with the marker account and preferably contain an itemized list of outstanding markers, sorted by the date and time they were verified or requested. In one embodiment, the gaming establishment has been previously authorized to charge outstanding markers to an existing cash account, such as a banking account. In one such embodiment, invoice 600 reflects such redemption having been made. If such redemption was made by electronic funds transfer, the invoice may show a tracking number that is associated with such transfer.
  • [0052]
    In another embodiment the time interval between invoice cycles and the predetermined time period the establishment will wait before debiting the cash account by electronic transfer are staggered such that the cash account is only debited if the invoice goes unpaid for more than an acceptable period of time.
  • [0053]
    The operation of a preferred embodiment of the system and method of the present invention employing a rechargeable, wireless, hand-held, mobile device will now be described with reference to FIGS. 7-47.
  • [0054]
    There is shown in FIG. 7 a schematic illustration of a basic configuration for a system 700 in accordance with a preferred embodiment. The basic configuration includes a database server 702, a web server 704, a user computer processor in the form of a laptop computer 706, a wireless transmitter/receiver 708, and a mobile device 710. The web server 704 is preferably isolated by firewalls 712, 714. The various components of the system 700 are electronically interconnected whereby the database server 702 may be accessed via either the user laptop computer 706 or the mobile device 710. Additional web servers may be clustered or load balanced to prevent system failure in the event one web server goes offline or experiences a failure. Similarly, additional database servers may be clustered or replicated to provide redundancy and additional capacity.
  • [0055]
    FIGS. 8-13 depict perspective illustrations of a preferred, rechargeable, hand-held, mobile device 710 and a charging and storage base 716. The mobile device 710 generally includes an exterior housing 718 that contains an upper touch screen display 720 and a lower array 722 of depressible, manually activated buttons including a power on/off button 724 and a key pad 726. The housing 718 contains a rechargeable battery (not shown) and electrical docking ports 728 that are in electrical communication with the battery and are adapted to mate with corresponding electrical prongs protruding up from the cradle portion of the charging and storage base 716. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the housing 718 may also contain a bar code scanner 732 and a magnetic swipe reader 734, although the bar code scanner 732 and the magnetic swipe reader 734 may be remote from the housing 718 and electrically connected thereto by wiring 736.
  • [0056]
    As best shown in FIG. 12, the charging and storage base 716 generally includes a block-like stand 738 mounted on and above a plurality of pads or feet 740. The stand 738 includes a centrally disposed cavity or cradle 742, the bottom of which possesses a pair of protruding electrical docking prongs 744 adapted to mate with the corresponding electrical docking ports 728 of the mobile device 710 and includes a latch mechanism 746 for selectively retaining or locking the mobile device 710 within the cradle 742. The charging and storage base 716 further includes a manually depressible release button 748 for selectively releasing the latch mechanism 746 whereby the mobile device 710 may be disengaged and removed from the stand 738. The charging and storage base 716 further includes a charge status indicator 750 that possesses LEDs for indicating the level of charge of the battery in the mobile device 710 and an electrical wire 751 and plug (not shown) for connecting the charging and storage base 716 to an electrical outlet or other power source.
  • [0057]
    The charging and storage base 716 provides a place to store the mobile device 710 when the mobile device 710 is not in use and also to recharge the battery of the mobile device 710. Preferably, the mobile device 710 is automatically recharged when seated within the cradle 742 of the charging and storage base 716. For this purpose, preferably the charging and storage base 716 is constantly connected to an electrical outlet or other power source to facilitate such recharging of the battery.
  • [0058]
    To seat the mobile device 710 within the cradle 742, the bottom end of the mobile device 710 is dropped into the cradle as such that the electrical docking ports 728 align with and extend snugly about the electrical docking prongs 744 in a mating disposition. When the mobile device 710 is so disposed within the cradle, the latch mechanism 746 will create a “click” sound that helps indicate to the user that the mobile device 710 is properly disposed within the cradle 742 for storage and recharging of the battery within the mobile device 710. In order to remove the mobile device 710 from the cradle 742, the user presses the latch release button 748 on the charging and storage base 716, which in turn will actuate the latch mechanism 746 so as to release the mobile device 710 from its disposition within the cradle 742. FIG. 13 shows the mobile device 710 disposed within the cradle 742 of the charging and storage base 716 such that the battery of the mobile device 710 may be recharged.
  • [0059]
    The charge status indicator 750 on the charging and storage base 716 preferably provides no illumination if the charging and storage base 716 is not plugged into an electrical outlet or otherwise is not connected to a source of power. The charge status indicator 750 preferably illuminates with a red LED light if the charging and storage base 716 is connected to an electrical outlet or other power source, but the mobile device 710 is not docked within the cradle 742 in a position for recharging. The charge status indicator 750 preferably illuminates with a blinking green LED light when the mobile device 710 is being charged within the charging and storage base 716, and illuminates with a continuous green LED light when the mobile device 710 is fully charged.
  • [0060]
    Preferably, the power on/off button 724 of the mobile device 710, when depressed, will illuminate an associated green LED light when power is actuated, and re-depression of the power on/off button 724 will de-activate the associated green LED light. The mobile device 710 may be provided with alternate power activation features, such as pressing various function keys of the keypad 726 if the power on/off button 724 becomes inoperable.
  • [0061]
    FIG. 14 shows a preferred “home screen” image displayed on the touch screen display 720 of the mobile device 710. The home screen offers the user of the mobile device 710 with a choice between making a marker request and redeeming a marker. The user touches the screen above the appropriate, selected choice. When used herein, unless otherwise indicated, the term “touch” means either to physically contact or to place a finger or other object sufficiently close to the touch screen to be detected as selecting a feature associated with an area of the screen, in accordance with well-known touch screen technology.
  • [0062]
    The following description of the operation of the mobile device 710 and system 700 will explain how to request and obtain a marker. Later, the process of redeeming a marker using the mobile device 710 will be described. It will be appreciated that microprocessors within either the mobile device 710 or the user server computer 706 execute and regulate the screen features and the responsive instructions, and that either or both the mobile device 706 or the laptop computer 706 (such as with its own screen and touch screen technology) may be utilized in connection with the following operation. The following descriptions of operation will reference only the mobile device 710 for convenience and simplicity.
  • [0063]
    If the user chooses to request a marker, the mobile device 710 will display a page screen such as that shown in FIG. 15. The patron account number associated with the patron making the marker request is then entered using the keypad image displayed on the touch screen display 720 of the mobile device 710 as shown in FIG. 16. In order to use the keypad, the user touches the screen above the field “use on-screen keypad” as shown in FIG. 15. Upon touching the “use on-screen keypad” field, the screen 720 will display a keypad, which is also operable via touching the screen, as shown in FIG. 16. When the keypad has been used to enter the desired patron account number, the screen is touched over the field “continue” as shown in FIG. 16, and the system 700 processes the patron account number to determine if the number matches a patron account number maintained in the casino's database operated by the database server 702. The system 700 verifies that the patron account number entered on the page screen shown in FIG. 15 corresponds with a patron account number maintained in the database. Presuming that the patron has entered a valid patron account number and wishes to proceed with the marker request, the screen is touched over the “continue” field as shown in FIG. 15. If the patron does not wish to proceed with the transaction, then the screen is touched above the “cancel” field shown in FIG. 15 or 16. If the patron account number is invalid, then the display in FIG. 15 will display an appropriate message.
  • [0064]
    Alternatively, the patron account number may be entered into the mobile device 710 by scanning a barcode located on the patron's player card, which contains a coded version of the patron account number. The barcode reader 732 associated with the mobile device 710 scans the barcode and translates the barcode into an associated patron account number, and then displays that scanned patron account number on the screen shown in FIG. 15. In yet another alternative embodiment, if the mobile device 710 possesses an attached magnetic strip reader 732, then a magnetic strip encoded with the patron account number on the player's card may be passed through the magnetic strip reader 734, which coordinates with a microprocessor in the mobile device 710 to decode a patron account number encoded in the magnetic strip on the player's card, and that causes such patron account number to appear on the screen 720 shown in FIG. 15.
  • [0065]
    The screen shown in FIG. 15 also includes a timer display that counts down a predetermined amount of time remaining to enter a patron account number and to select either the continue or cancel fields. If such activities have not occurred within the predetermined amount of time for performing such transactions, then the workflow will be terminated, and mobile device 710 will automatically display the screen shown in FIG. 14.
  • [0066]
    For security purposes, the screen shown in FIGS. 15 and 16 may display asterisks for each alphanumeric or other indicia of the patron account number, or may display a combination of asterisks and indicia of the player account number, such as displaying asterisks except for the last four indicia of the patron account number. Also preferably, the “continue” field will not be displayed in the screen shown in FIGS. 15 and 16 until and unless the patron account number has been entered either by scanning the barcode associated with the player's card, by swiping a magnetic strip on the player's card, or by entering the patron account number via the keypad.
  • [0067]
    If, after entering the patron account number and touching the screen of the “continue” field, the system 700 determines that there is no credit available or no remaining funds on deposit, the screen will display the message shown in FIG. 17. If the user touches the screen above the “ok” field as shown in FIG. 17, then the mobile device 710 will display the home screen shown in FIG. 14.
  • [0068]
    Presuming that the patron account number has available credit or funds on the deposit, then the mobile device 710 will display a screen such as shown in FIG. 18, which includes the patron's name associated with the patron account number. If the patron's name is incorrect, and the patron decides not to continue with requesting a marker, then the user may touch the screen above the “no” field as shown in FIG. 18, which will return the screen to the home page shown in. FIG. 14. If the patron's name is correct, and the patron wishes to continue with the marker, request, then the user continues by touching the screen above the “yes” field as shown in FIG. 18, which will display the screen shown in FIG. 19. The user then selects one of the fixed, predetermined values of the marker to be requested, which are displayed in FIG. 19 as, for example, $2,500.00, $5,000.00, $10,000.00, $15,000.00, and $25,000.00. Alternatively, the patron may select some other amount by touching the screen above the “other” field as shown in FIG. 19. By touching the field above one of the fixed, predetermined amounts, the patron is selecting that amount as a marker request. The number of fixed, predetermined amounts appearing on the screen shown in FIG. 19 may be selectively varied, and the fixed, predetermined amounts displayed may vary. For example, if the patron has between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 of credit available or funds remaining, then the fixed predetermined amounts as shown on the screen may be $250.00, $500.00, $1,000.00, and $5,000.00, and if the patron has between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00 of credit available or funds remaining, then the amounts as shown on the screen may be $2500.00, $10,000.00, $50,000.00, and $100,000.00.
  • [0069]
    If the user wishes to select an amount other than the displayed, fixed, predetermined amounts, the user touches the screen above the “other” field, which will generate the screen shown in FIG. 20, which includes a keypad display very similar to the display shown in FIG. 16. The keypad may be used to select a dollar amount, which will appear in the field under the wording “please enter marker amount:”. If the user makes a mistake in entering the dollar amount, the user may touch the screen above the “clear” field or touch screen above the “bksp” (i.e. backspace) field to erase all or the last digit, respectively, of the amount entered. If the patron changes his mind about selecting an amount other than a fixed, predetermined amount, the user may touch the screen above the “go back” field, which will cause the screen shown in FIG. 19 to reappear.
  • [0070]
    If the patron does not want to continue with the marker request, then the user may touch the screen above the “cancel” field as shown in FIG. 19, which will discontinue the transaction and return the mobile device 710 to the home screen shown in FIG. 14.
  • [0071]
    If the patron decides that the selected marker amount is desired, then the user may touch the screen above the “continue” field. The system 700 will then compare the marker amount selectively requested to the patron's available credit or remaining funds associated with the patron account number and the patron name. If the request exceeds the amount available, then the mobile device 710 will display the screen shown in FIG. 21, which will display the maximum value of the credit available or funds remaining on deposit. By touching the screen above the “ok” field shown in FIG. 21, the screen shown in FIG. 19 will reappear. If the requested amount is less than the available credit or funds remaining on deposit, then the mobile device 710 will display the screen shown in FIG. 22, which displays the amount of the requested marker. If the patron changes his mind about the requested marker, then the user may touch the screen above the “no” field, which returns the screen to that shown in FIG. 19. If the patron wishes to proceed with the marker request, then the user touches the screen above the “yes” field, which will cause the screen shown in FIG. 23 to appear, which includes features very similar to those associated with the screen shown in FIG. 16. The patron then enters by touching the screen above the appropriate number fields the patron's PIN number provided by the casino to the patron in connection with the patron's account. By touching the screen above the “clear” field or the “bksp” field, the entire PIN number or the last indicia of the PIN number, respectively, may be erased. For security purposes, the display screen shown in FIG. 23 may show an asterisk for each indicia of the PIN number entered, or may display a combination of asterisks and indicia for the PIN number, such as by displaying asterisks except for the last four indicia of the PIN. If the PIN number entered is invalid or does not correspond with the patron account number, then an appropriate message will be displayed. If the patron decides not to proceed with the marker request, then the user may touch the screen above the “cancel” field, which will cause the home screen shown in FIG. 14 to reappear. Alternatively, if the patron wishes to continue with the marker request, then the user touches the screen above the “continue” field, which will cause the screen shown in FIG. 24 to appear. Preferably, the “continue” field does not appear until after a sufficient number of indicia has been entered for the PIN, so that the user is required to enter an appropriate number of PIN indicia before the patron is allowed to continue with the marker request.
  • [0072]
    When the mobile device 710 displays the screen shown in FIG. 24, the mobile device 710 is preferably handed to the casino patron. Prior to that time, a mobile device 710 is preferably handled only by casino personnel, such as the pit boss. The screen as shown in FIG. 24 includes the patron name, the name of the casino, and the amount of the marker request, as well as a concise authorization statement containing contractual language. The patron then uses a plastic pen or similar implement and places the tip of the plastic pen or other implement on the screen above a region for the patron's signature, and then uses the plastic pen or other implement to inscribe the signature. If the patron wishes to discontinue the marker request then the user may touch the screen above the “cancel” field, and the home screen shown in FIG. 14 will reappear. Alternatively, if the patron wishes to continue with the marker request, then the patron will touch the screen above the “I agree” field. Preferably, the “I agree” field will not appear until the system 700 detects a sufficient, predetermined amount of inscription in the field for the signature so that the signature must be completed before the patron agrees to the contractual arrangement. When the screen is touched above the “I agree” field after the signature has been inscribed in the field for the signature, the screen shown in FIG. 25 will appear. The user will then touch the screen above the “continue” field, and the screen shown in FIG. 26 will appear. The casino personnel then enters his casino identification number either using the on screen keypad, or by scanning the barcode on the personnel's employee card, or by swiping a magnetic strip on the personnel's employee card through the reader. The keypad may be used in a manner similar to that previously described reference to FIGS. 16 and 23.
  • [0073]
    When the screen is touched above the “continue” field shown in FIG. 26, the screen display shown in FIG. 27 will appear. That screen display will show, for example, the patron's photo identification on file with the casino, which may be, for example, a replication of the patron's driver's license, passport, or casino membership card and which will display the patron's signature on file with the casino. The display screen shown in FIG. 27 will also display the signature of patron inscribed on the screen shown in FIG. 24. The casino personnel then may compare the photo identification appearing on the screen shown in FIG. 27 with the appearance of the person who inscribed the signature shown in FIG. 24 and may compare the signature so inscribed with the signature on file with the casino. Again, by touching the screen above the “cancel” field, work flow will be terminated, and the home screen shown in FIG. 14 will reappear. By touching the screen above the “continue” field, the screen shown in FIG. 27 will appear. Naturally, if the photo appearing on the screen in FIG. 27 does not match the appearance of the person who inscribed the signature appearing on screen 24 or the signatures do not match, then the casino personnel will not continue with the transaction and will seek guidance from other casino personnel, including casino security personnel.
  • [0074]
    It is also contemplated that the mobile device 710 may be equipped with a camera by which the casino personnel may take a digital photograph of the patron who is requesting the marker, which photograph may be digitally stored with the patron's signature created in the screen in FIG. 24.
  • [0075]
    If the screen shown in FIG. 27 reveals no inconsistencies with the appearance of the patron or with the signature of the patron, the screen is touched above the “continue” field in FIG. 27, and the screen shown in FIG. 28 appears. The casino personnel that entered his employee identification number in the field shown in FIG. 26 then enters his casino personnel's PIN number in a similar manner in all respects to that described with reference to the screen shown in FIG. 26.
  • [0076]
    When the user touches the screen above the “continue” field shown in FIG. 28, the screen shown in FIG. 29 will appear, which screen includes information about the patron's account such as the credit or funds available, how much has been used, how much remains, and the amount of the pending marker request. The screen may also display a selection of tables or other locations in the casino where the patron or the casino personnel is located, and the user then selects the appropriate table or other location from the available menu or table. Finally, the casino personnel utilizes the plastic pen or other implement to inscribe the casino personnel's signature in a signature field of the display in a manner similar to that described with reference to FIG. 24. Alternatively, the mobile device 710 may be associated with a particular table or location in the casino or a particular casino personnel, in which situation, the display screen shown on FIG. 29 will not show a menu or table.
  • [0077]
    The screen in FIG. 29 may also display any limitations or warnings such as that the patron is requesting a marker over an aggregate amount within a predetermined time interval or that the marker is being requested at an undesired location in the casino. These warnings may help restrain a patron in a manner previously desired by the patron so that the patron does not wager excessively on compulsion or may avoid marker requests from being made at time intervals and at locations where it would be physically impossible or impractical to be legitimately made by the patron. Instead of a warning, the system 700 may be programmed to prohibit the completion of the marker request.
  • [0078]
    Based on the information in the display screen shown in FIG. 29, the casino personnel may decide to decline the marker request, and if so, will touch the screen above the “decline” field, whereupon the screen shown in FIG. 31 will appear. The casino personnel then will orally notify the patron and possibly other casino personnel, such as a dealer, that the marker request has been declined. Thereafter, the casino personnel will touch the screen above the “home” field, which will cause the home screen shown in FIG. 14 to reappear. The casino personnel may then return the mobile device 710 to its charging and storage base or to another designated location. Alternatively, the casino personnel may touch the screen above the “approved” field, which will cause the screen shown in FIG. 30 to appear. The casino personnel may then orally notify the patron that the marker request has been approved, and may possibly notify other casino personnel, such as the dealer, that the marker request has been approved. Thereafter the casino personnel touches the screen above the “home” field, the work flow is completed, and the mobile device 710 is returned to the charging and storage base 716 or to some other designated location.
  • [0079]
    The process of redeeming a marker in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention will now be described.
  • [0080]
    A user views the home page shown in FIG. 14 and touches the screen above the “redeem” field, which causes the mobile device 710 to display the screen shown in FIG. 32. The user then enters the patron account number in the same manner as described in reference to the screen shown in FIG. 15. When the screen is touched above the field “use on-screen keypad”, the screen shown in FIG. 33 will appear. The user may then use the keypad to enter the patron account number in a manner similar to that described with reference to the screen shown in FIG. 16. If the system 700 determines that the patron account number entered corresponds to an advance deposit account, rather than a credit account, the mobile device 710 will display the screen shown in FIG. 34. Casino personnel may then inform the patron that the marker cannot be redeemed because the patron account number corresponds with a deposit account, rather than a credit line. The patron may then be asked if the patron has a different patron account number. The user of the mobile device 710 then touches the screen above the “ok” field, which terminates the work flow and causes the mobile device 710 to display the home screen shown in FIG. 14.
  • [0081]
    If the system 700 determines that the patron has no outstanding markers awaiting redemption, the mobile device 710 will display the screen shown in FIG. 35. Again, casino personnel may inform the patron that there are no outstanding markers associated with that patron account number. Casino personnel may then touch the screen above the “ok” field, which will cause the mobile device 710 to display the home screen shown in FIG. 14.
  • [0082]
    If the system 700 determines that there are one or more outstanding markers awaiting redemption in the patron account number, then the mobile device 710 will display the screen shown in FIG. 36. Casino personnel, such as the pit boss, then enters his employee identification number in a manner similar to that shown described with reference to FIG. 26. The screen shown in FIG. 36 may also be associated with a limited, predetermined time for completing the employee identification number and may display the time remaining to complete the employee identification number in a manner similar to that described with reference to the display screen shown in FIG. 15.
  • [0083]
    When a user touches the screen above the “continue” field shown in FIG. 36 after having entered an employee identification number recognized by the system 700, then the mobile device 710 displays the screen shown in FIG. 37. The screen displays a photo identification of the patron associated with the patron account number entered in a screen shown in FIG. 32 so that the casino personnel may verify that the patron requesting the redemption is the same person associated with the patron account number. The screen may also display the account number, the total amount of the credit line, the amount of credit remaining, any pending requests for markers, and the currently outstanding amount of credit. The screen may also display a field designated “outstanding markers”. By touching the screen above the “outstanding markers” field, the screen shown in FIG. 38 will appear, which will indicate the different markers by number in the amount of each such marker. If the screen has been touched above the “outstanding markers” field, and the screen display shown in FIG. 38 appears, then the casino personnel may cause the screen shown in FIG. 37 to reappear by touching the screen above the “ok” field shown in FIG. 38.
  • [0084]
    Once the casino personnel verifies that the patron requesting the redemption is the same person whose photo appears on the screen shown in FIG. 37, the user touches the screen above the “continue” field shown in FIG. 37, which causes the screen shown in FIG. 39 appear. It will be appreciated that the screen shown in FIG. 39 is very similar to the screen shown in FIG. 19, and is implemented in a manner similar to that described with reference to FIG. 19. If the patron wants to select an amount other than a fixed, predetermined amount shown on the screen depicted in FIG. 39, then the user touches the screen above the “other” field, which will cause the screen shown in FIG. 40. It will be appreciated that the screen shown in FIG. 40 is very similar to the screen shown in FIG. 20, and the screen functions in a manner similar to that described with reference to FIG. 20. If the amount selected exceeds the amount of the credit used, then the screen shown in FIG. 41 will appear, which indicates that the amount selected exceeds the amount of outstanding credit and that the patron should select a lower amount. If the screen shown in FIG. 41 appears, the user may touch the screen above the “ok” field, which will cause the screen display shown in FIG. 39 to reappear, and the process of selecting an amount of the redemption is repeated.
  • [0085]
    Preferably any amount selected as the redemption amount is first automatically applied against the oldest outstanding markers.
  • [0086]
    When an appropriate value that is less than or equal to the outstanding credit has been selected, either the screen shown in FIG. 42 or in 43 will appear, depending on whether the redemption is for the entire amount of the credit outstanding or for only a partial amount of the credit outstanding, respectively. If the amount or nature of the redemption is incorrect or if the patron decides not to continue with redemption, then the user touches the screen above the “no” field shown in either FIG. 42 or 43, and the work flow will terminate, and the home screen shown in FIG. 14 will reappear.
  • [0087]
    If the patron agrees with the amount and nature of the redemption, then the user touches the screen over the “yes” field as shown in either FIG. 42 or 43. Thereafter, the mobile device 710 will display series of screens in all respects similar to those shown in FIGS. 23, 24, 25, and which are completed similarly to those described above with reference to FIGS. 23-28. Such a process helps to insure that the patron redeeming the marker is the same as the patron associated with the patron account number and provides an electronically, preferably digitally, stored record of the patron's commitment to making the redemption.
  • [0088]
    Thereafter, the screen shown in FIG. 44 is displayed on the mobile device 710. That screen displays the patron's name, the amount of the redemption, and a menu or table of the manner in which the redemption will be paid, such as with cash, casino chips, or a bank check, or a combination of thereof. The casino personnel selects the appropriate method of payment from the menu or table, but also has the option of choosing to touch the screen above the “cancel” field, which will terminate the work flow and cause the home page shown in FIG. 14 to reappear. If the casino personnel wishes to continue with the redemption transaction, then the casino personnel inscribes his signature in much the same way as previously described with reference to FIG. 29 whereupon the screen will display FIG. 45. Casino personnel may touch the screen above the “cancel” field which will terminate work flow and cause the mobile device 710 to cause the home screen shown in FIG. 14 to reappear. Alternatively, the casino personnel may touch the screen above the “continue” field when it appears, which will cause either the screen shown in FIG. 46 or the screen shown in FIG. 47 to appear.
  • [0089]
    In any of the foregoing transactions involving the displays, if a patron account number, a patron PIN number, a casino personnel employee identification number, or a casino employee PIN number are invalid or otherwise not contained in the database included in the system 700, then a screen may appear to notify the user of the mobile device 710 that such numbers or PINs are invalid or can not be found. Also, if the communication link between the mobile device 710 and the rest of the system 700 is disconnected, the mobile device 710 may cause a screen to display a “communication error” message, which will either prompt the user to wait or will return the user to the home screen shown in FIG. 14, or will suggest that the user check the status of the batteries in the mobile device 710.
  • [0090]
    Preferably at least some, and more preferably all, of the images appearing on the mobile device 710 are digitally stored at least until the marker has been paid or redeemed in full, such as through an EFT or an ACH. Also preferably, evidence of the payment or redemption transaction is digitally stored. The storage of the images and of the transaction evidence may be stored for as long as desired or mandated. For instance, the casino itself may be a policy to store such, records for a period of time by which any applicable statute of limitations might expire or for a period of time dictated by tax authorities, or the casino may be obligated to store such records for a period of time required by applicable gaming regulations.
  • [0091]
    While the invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof to adapt to particular situation without departing from the scope of the invention. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiments disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope and spirit of the appended claims.

Claims (24)

    I claim:
  1. 1. A method of processing a marker request by a patron of a gaming establishment comprising:
    (a) receiving identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons;
    (b) electronically storing said identifying information in an electronic database;
    (c) electronically storing financial information about the patron in an electronic database, said financial information selected from the group consisting of credit available to the patron and funds the patron has on deposit with the gaming establishment;
    (d) after steps (a)-(c), receiving a request for a marker from the patron;
    (e) after steps (a)-(d), at least partially electronically obtaining and storing identifying information from the patron;
    (f) after steps (a)-(e), at least partially electronically comparing said stored identifying information with said identifying information obtained in step (e);
    (g) determining whether to approve the marker request based on said comparison; and
    (h) if the marker request is approved, then distributing to the patron for the patron's use something of value that will enable the patron to utilize services of the gaming establishment.
  2. 2. A method according to claim 1 wherein said request for a marker includes an associated financial value of the requested marker and further comprising:
    (i) after steps (a)-(d), at least partially electronically comparing said associated financial value with said stored financial information; and
    (j) determining whether to approve the marker request based on said comparison.
  3. 3. A method according to claim 1 further comprising:
    (k) assessing the location where the patron is making the marker request; and
    (l) determining whether to approve the marker request based on said assessment.
  4. 4. A method according to claim 1 further comprising:
    (m) storing historical information concerning the time and amounts of markers previously approved for the patron; and
    (n) determining whether to approve the marker request based on said historical information.
  5. 5. A method according to claim 1 wherein said identifying information in steps (a) and (e) are selected from the group consisting of electronic replications of a signature, a fingerprint, an eye, and a face.
  6. 6. A method according to claim 2 wherein in step (d) the patron is electronically presented with a plurality of different, preselected, associated financial values from which to make the marker request and wherein the patron makes said marker request by electronically choosing one of said associated financial values.
  7. 7. A method according to claim 6 wherein said associated financial values are preselected at least in part based on said stored financial information.
  8. 8. A method of processing a marker request by a patron of a gaming establishment comprising:
    (a) receiving identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons;
    (b) electronically storing said identifying information in an electronic database;
    (c) electronically storing financial information about the patron in an electronic database, said financial information selected from the group consisting of credit available to the patron and funds the patron has on deposit with the gaming establishment;
    (d) after steps (a)-(c), receiving a request for a marker from the patron; and
    (e) step for approving the marker request;
  9. 9. A method according to claim 8 wherein said request for a marker includes an associated financial value of the requested marker and wherein step (e) includes at least partially electronically comparing said financial value with said stored financial information.
  10. 10. A method according to claim 8 wherein step (e) includes assessing the location where the patron is making the marker request.
  11. 11. A method according to claim 8 wherein step (e) includes storing historical information concerning the time and amount of the marker approved for the patron.
  12. 12. A method according to claim 8 wherein step (e) includes, after steps (a)-(d), at least partially electronically obtaining and storing identifying information about the patron, and wherein said identifying information in steps (a) and (e) are selected from the group consisting of electronic replications of a signature, a fingerprint, an eye, and a face.
  13. 13. A method according to claim 8 wherein in step (d) the patron is electronically presented with a plurality of different, preselected financial values from which to make the marker request and wherein the patron makes said marker request by electronically choosing one of said financial values.
  14. 14. A method according to claim 13 wherein said monetary values are preselected at least in part based on said stored financial information.
  15. 15. A system of processing a marker request by a patron of a gaming establishment comprising:
    (a) an electronic database storing identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons, said stored identifying information selected from the group consisting of electronic replications of the patron's signature, fingerprint, eye, and face;
    (b) an electronic display screen;
    (c) a processor operably, electronically connected to said database and to said display screen;
    (d) an electronic patron-initiated input for providing identifying information about the patron in connection with the patron's request for a marker and as a prerequisite to obtaining approval for the marker, said input adapted to provide identifying information selected from the group consisting of the patron's signature, fingerprint, eye, and face, said patron-initiated input operably, electronically connected to said processor, said patron-initiated input selected from the group consisting of a touch screen, a key pad, and a camera.
  16. 16. The system according to claim 15 wherein said patron-initiated input is carried on a hand-held, mobile platform in wireless communication with said processor.
  17. 17. The system according to claim 15 wherein said platform includes a rechargeable battery and further comprising a recharging stand adapted to electronically couple with said platform and to recharge said battery when so coupled.
  18. 18. The system according to claim 17 wherein said stand includes a releasable latch for selectively maintaining said platform and said stand in a coupled relationship.
  19. 19. The system according to claim 17 wherein said stand includes means for indicating the status of the battery while being recharged by said stand.
  20. 20. A system for handling a marker request by a patron of a gaming establishment comprising:
    means for electronically storing identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons and for electronically storing financial information about the patron selected from both (a) the group consisting of credit available to the patron and funds that the patron has on deposit with the gaming establishment, and (b) the group consisting of a history of marker requests made by the patron and a history of approval made by the gaming establishment of marker requests made by the patron;
    means for electronically displaying images associated with the electronically stored identity information and the electronically stored financial information;
    means for electronically providing identifying information about the patron in connection with the patron's request for a marker; and
    a processor operably, electronically connected to said storing means, said display means, and said providing means for displaying via said display means stored identifying information and stored financial information in response to said providing means providing identifying information about the player.
  21. 21. A system according to claim 21 further comprising means for channeling electric power to said providing means and to said display means.
  22. 22. A method of redeeming a marker issued by a gaming establishment to a patron comprising:
    (a) receiving identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons;
    (b) electronically storing said identifying information in an electronic database;
    (c) electronically storing marker information about the patron in a electronic database, said marker information comprising the time when markers were issued to the patron and the amount of the markers;
    (d) after steps (a)-(c) receiving a request from the patron to redeem a marker;
    (e) after steps (a)-(d), at least partially electronically obtaining and storing identifying information from the patron;
    (f) after steps (a)-(e), at least partially electronically comparing said stored identifying information with said identifying information obtained in step (e);
    (g) determining whether to redeem a marker based on said comparison;
    (h) electronically displaying said stored marker information;
    (i) if a determination has been made to redeem a marker in step (g), obtaining something of value from the patron; and
    (j) electronically storing the time when said something of value was obtained from the patron and the value of said something of value.
  23. 23. A method of redeeming a marker issued by a gaming establishment to a patron comprising:
    (a) receiving identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons;
    (b) electronically storing said identifying information in an electronic database;
    (c) electronically storing marker information about the patron in a electronic database, said marker information comprising the time when markers were issued to the patron and the amount of the markers;
    (d) after steps (a)-(c) receiving a request from the patron to redeem a marker; and
    (e) after steps (a)-(d) step for redeeming the marker.
  24. 24. A system for redeeming a marker issued by a gaming establishment comprising:
    (a) an electronic database storing identifying information about the patron that essentially uniquely identifies the patron and distinguishes the patron from other patrons and storing marker information comprising the time when markers were issued to the patron and the amount of the markers;
    (b) an electronic display screen;
    (c) a processor operably, electronically connected to said database and to said display screen;
    (d) an electronic player-initiated input for providing identifying information about the patron in connection with the patron's request to redeem a marker and as a prerequisite to redeeming a marker, said input adapted to provide identifying information selected from the group consisting of the patron's signature, fingerprint, eye, and face, said patron-initiated input operably, electronically connected to said processor, said patron-initiated input selected from the group consisting of a touch screen, a key pad, and a camera.
US12945946 2006-12-07 2010-11-15 System for and method of electronically handling a casino marker Pending US20110065497A1 (en)

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US12945946 US20110065497A1 (en) 2007-12-04 2010-11-15 System for and method of electronically handling a casino marker

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US20100222132A1 (en) * 2004-09-29 2010-09-02 Kirk Edward Sanford Systems for Enhancing Funding of Gaming
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