US20120329549A1 - Player selectable/definable promotional events in electronic video game environments - Google Patents

Player selectable/definable promotional events in electronic video game environments Download PDF

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US20120329549A1
US20120329549A1 US13/335,879 US201113335879A US2012329549A1 US 20120329549 A1 US20120329549 A1 US 20120329549A1 US 201113335879 A US201113335879 A US 201113335879A US 2012329549 A1 US2012329549 A1 US 2012329549A1
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player
event
promotional
award
gaming machine
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US13/335,879
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Sam Johnson
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Tipping Point Group LLC
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Sam Johnson
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Priority to US10/689,407 priority Critical patent/US7335106B2/en
Priority to US11/468,946 priority patent/US9564004B2/en
Application filed by Sam Johnson filed Critical Sam Johnson
Priority to US13/335,879 priority patent/US20120329549A1/en
Publication of US20120329549A1 publication Critical patent/US20120329549A1/en
Assigned to TIPPING POINT GROUP, LLC reassignment TIPPING POINT GROUP, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: JOHNSON, SAM
Assigned to TPG HOLDINGS LLC reassignment TPG HOLDINGS LLC SECURITY INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: JOHNSON, SAM, TIPPING POINT GROUP LLC
Assigned to VULCAN HOLDINGS INC. reassignment VULCAN HOLDINGS INC. SECURITY INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: TIPPING POINT GROUP LLC
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users
    • G07F17/3227Configuring a gaming machine, e.g. downloading personal settings, selecting working parameters
    • 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
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users
    • G07F17/3232Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users wherein the operator is informed
    • G07F17/3234Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users wherein the operator is informed about the performance of a gaming system, e.g. revenue, diagnosis of the gaming system

Abstract

Promotional events are made available to players on video gaming machines. Certain parameters of the promotional events can be selected and/or defined by the player, such as the triggering events, type of event, type of award, type of award progression and other parameters. The system selects performance criteria and award traversing algorithms based at least in part on the player selected parameters and the probability of the occurrence of the trigger event.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation-in-part of the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/468,946 filed on Aug. 31, 2006 with a title of CLOSED-LOOP SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING ADDITIONAL EVENT PARTICIPATION TO ELECTRONIC VIDEO GAME CUSTOMER, which application is a continuation-in-part of the United States patent application filed on Oct. 20, 2003 with a title of CLOSED-LOOP SYSTEM FOR DISPLAYING PROMOTIONAL EVENTS AND GRANTING AWARDS FOR ELECTRONIC VIDEO GAMES and assigned Ser. No. 10/689,407, which application issued as a United States patent on Feb. 26, 2008 and assigned U.S. Pat. No. 7,335,106.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to the electronic video gaming industry and, more particularly to providing a system that allows a player of an electronic gaming system to select/define and enable a promotional event that runs concurrent with the players activity on the gaming machine or at the casino.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Electronic video games have come along way. In the early days, the Odyssey system allowed a user to tape one of several plastic see-through diagrams onto their television screen. Various diagrams were available, such as basketball, hockey, football and pong. However, the underlying game was the same—it was just a variation of the original Pong game. Today, highly complex, nearly real-life graphics are available and the game controllers have more buttons than the most advanced combined remote controls for televisions. The gambling gaming industry has capitalized on this growth. The standard mechanical slot machines of yesterday have converged with the growth in the electronic video gaming industry to introduce a new line of electronic video games. Some of the more popular outgrowths of this convergence are the video poker, black jack and video slot machines.
  • The gambling gaming industry has also capitalized on applying the growth in networking technology. Today, the electronic games are connected through a network to a main server that monitors the play of the games, the payouts awarded, and even the identity of the parties that are playing the game. The blue-haired ladies with buckets of quarters have been replaced with blue-haired ladies wearing a string around their necks that is connected to magnetic-strip identification card. The magnetic strip identification cards, in some cases simply identify the player but, in other cases operate as a pre-paid card and maintain a value based on the initial value loaded when the card is obtained, augmented by the success or failure of the user at the electronic game. Prior to commencing play, the card is swiped or entered into a slot on the machine and the identity of the player is extracted. In addition, the value loaded onto the card can be read and loaded into the machine. As play commences, the value can be decremented or incremented based on the gambling results. All of this information can be fed into the main server and recorded into a database.
  • One of the problems that the gambling gaming industry faces is dealing with the amount of traffic that is transmitted through the network. One technique that has been employed to reduce this traffic is to filter out all plays except for payout plays. For instance, in video poker, a payout list is provided on the display to indicate what hands will result in what payouts. Any hands that do not qualify as a payout are simply ignored. The hands that result in a payout result in a data entry being transmitted through the network to the main server. Although this technique provides a solution for reducing network traffic, it advantageously results in filtering out valuable information that could be used by the operators of the games. For instance, being able to track the number of times that a user has played the game, the frequency of starting new games, the characteristics of the user in playing the game and the reactionary speed of the players could be valuable information. Thus, there is a need in the art for a technique to capture this valuable information without over taxing the network bandwidth by introducing an abundance of network traffic.
  • Another disadvantage of this technique is that it limits the flexibility of the game operators in providing promotional events with the gaming machines. For instance, if an operator decides to run a promotional event in which video poker players will receive special awards for obtaining hands that are not included in the payout list, the main server has no mechanism in which to track the awards. In fact, this type of promotional event has proven to be a common technique used by video gaming machine operators to encourage play. Today these events are handled in the following manner. If an operator decides to award players with a special payback for an arbitrary hand, such as obtaining three or four clubs on Saint Patrick's day for video poker, or having a total of five on a black jack hand on Cinco De Mayo, or other non-standard hands, the operator announces the promotion either via an audio announcement, posters or a marquee that is visible to the players. If a player meets the criteria set forth in the promotion, the player approaches an employee of the casino, or the manager/bartender in a restaurant/bar setting, and gives them notice of the win. The employee or manager/bartender then serves as the sole point of contact for granting the award. It should be quite apparent that such a system is very vulnerable to “foul-play”. One extra-generous bartender trying to help out a friend or impress an attractive lady can easily falsify records and grant the awards to undeserving parties.
  • Such promotional events have proven to be very beneficial to gambling machine operators; however, the lack of control in granting the awards results in millions of dollars being lost every year. Thus, there is a need in the art for technique that allows gambling machine operators to reap the benefits of providing promotional events while minimizing the risk of loss associated with the payout of awards for these events.
  • Promotional events available on electronic gaming platforms are typically defined and selected by the casino operators. The player has no input or control over the type of promotional event or the parameters of the promotional event. As creatures of habit, people tend to find activities that they enjoy, and then stick with such activities. Thus, having rigidity in the availability of promotional events could have the effect of turning patrons away. However, if a player was able to actually provide input into the definition of a promotional event, the player may have a tendency to adopt a particular promotional event as his or her own and actively and frequently engage in such activity.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present disclosure provides a player definable and/or selectable promotional event that can run concurrent with the player's other activities on an electronic gaming machine, across a plurality of electronic gaming machines, across a plurality of casino activities including electronic and non-electronic, and event across a plurality of casinos. In one embodiment of providing player-defined promotional events to a player of a video gaming machine, the embodiment operates by receiving at the user interface of a video gaming machine, player selected information for defining a promotional event. For instance, the player selected information may include information to define a trigger event. Once the trigger event or other parameters of the promotional event are selected or defined by the user, the probability of the occurrence of the trigger event is determined. This information is used in further defining the promotional event. For instance, based on the probability of the occurrence of the trigger event, a minimum award, a maximum award, and performance criteria to be associated with the promotional event can be selected. Once the promotional event is selected and/or defined, the playing activity of the player is monitored and applied against the performance requirements to determine a current award value between the minimum and maximum awards. The playing activity may be the activity at a single electronic gaming machine, across multiple gaming machine platforms, and even integrate non-electronic gaming activity such as card tables, roulette wheels or even shopping in casino stores and/or restaurants or the like. If the trigger event is detected, then the current award is granted to the player.
  • In some embodiments, award thresholds may be set such that if a player is able to successfully traverse a current award value to a threshold value, then the performance criteria for maintaining the minimum award at that threshold value can be slackened or in some cases, even removed such that the new minimum award guaranteed to the player upon winning is the reached threshold value. In some embodiments, even if the potential bonus level or minimum award has been set, the system can still revert back to a previous bonus level or even to a non-bonus or zero bonus if the player does not take a turn or engage the machine for a certain period of time. Such embodiments encourage the player to remain engaged with the machine or game to maintain the award level that has already been achieved. Yet, in other embodiments, once a minimum threshold is set, it may act as a permanent floor for the award. In yet other embodiments, other criteria may be used to determine if and when a minimum award value should revert to a previous value. Such criteria may include, but is not limited to, delay between plays, frequency of turns, size of the bets, aggressiveness of play, etc.
  • In some embodiments, the promotional event may be based on a timer, a number of misses or any of a variety of performance requirements.
  • Further, some embodiments may include the capability for the player to take a pro rata portion of the potential award level reached but not yet won due to the fact that the promotional winning criteria has not yet been satisfied. For instance, if the potential award that can be obtained by the player upon satisfying the winning criteria is $AWARD, then the player can opt out of further play by taking a portion of the award. This is akin to a deal or no-deal offer. In such a situation, prior to each deal, spin of the wheel, pull of the handle, etc., or prior to selected actions (i.e, periodically, a periodically) the player can be prompted to, or may request opting out on further play and taking the reduced award.
  • Advantageously, the present disclosure presents a technique to engage players in longer, more aggressive and more frequent play and, provides the players with the ability to customize promotional events.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a system diagram illustrating the typical interconnectivity of a video gaming machine environment.
  • FIG. 2 is a system diagram illustrating the interconnectivity of a video gaming machine environment suitable for embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 a-3 b illustrate two exemplary displays to advertise a promotional event.
  • FIG. 4 is screen shot illustrating one embodiment of the playlist.
  • FIG. 5 is a screen shot illustrating the programming screen for promotional content.
  • FIG. 6 is a flow diagram summarizing the operations of the promotional server and the controller box.
  • FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating the steps involved in one embodiment of the promotional event aspect of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate yet another embodiment of the present invention the enables players to select/define promotional events.
  • FIG. 9 is a flow diagram illustrating an exemplary process in the creation of a user defined/selectable promotional event and the operation thereof.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The present invention includes a device that can be embedded within, or operate in conjunction with a video gaming machine. Throughout this description, a video gaming machine will refer to all kinds of gambling machines, such as video poker, black jack, roulette, Keno and slot machines, as well as typical arcade video machines. More specifically, the present invention operates to augment the display of a video gaming machine to provide the display of entertainment feeds, such as television, pay-per-view movies and advertisements, as well as provide for the display of information pertaining to promotional events. Another aspect of the present invention is a system to allow operators of the video gaming machines to customize the display of the video gaming machine and to program the types, durations and awards associated with promotional events. Yet another aspect of the present invention is a closed-loop system that allows for the display of promotional events on the screen of the video gaming machine, monitor the activity of the video gaming machine and record information indicating that an award for a promotional event has been earned. Similarly, the closed-loop system aspect of the present invention allows for the display of a promotional event, transaction, or the like, and prompt and/or receive feedback or actions from a user of the video gaming machine that are provided in association with the promotional event or transaction. Yet another aspect of the present invention is to provide a technique for tracking demographic information pertaining to the play of a particular video gaming machine including, but not limited to, the identity of the player, the frequency of play by that player, the amounts betted by that player, the level of risk or characteristic of play of that player, the reactionary speed of the player, etc.
  • Advantageously, this invention will allow operators of video gaming machines to maintain control over promotional events and the granting of awards pertaining to those events, as well as extract valuable information that can be used in augmenting the play of these video gaming machines to increase profitability and increase play time.
  • Turning now to the figures in which like references and labels refer like elements, several embodiments of the present invention are provided.
  • FIG. 1 is a system diagram illustrating the typical interconnectivity of a video gaming machine environment. One or more video gaming machines 110 are connected to an operator server 120 through an operator network 130. In the illustrated environment, the video gaming machines 110 are video poker machines but it will be appreciated that other video gaming machines could likewise be connected to the same network. Typically, all of the operator's video gaming machines are connected to the operator's network and it is not necessary for the video gaming machines to be co-located or even be on the same premises. For the illustrated video poker machines, a display 140 is provided with a variety of content including a payout table 150 and a card stack 160.
  • In operation, each time a winning hand is obtained (i.e., one that matches a hand on the payout table), a message is sent from the video gaming machine 110 to the operator server 120 over the operator network 130 or, the information maybe stored in the video gaming machine 110 or other memory storage device and the operator server 120 can periodically request or extract the stored information. Information is extracted from this message and stored into the operator server 120. The information may include, but is not limited to, the payout hand, the time and date the hand was achieved, the identity of the machine and the identity of the player. In the more modern video gaming machines, a magnetic card reader or equivalent device is included in the video gaming machine. The magnetic card reader can be used by players to insert a card that identifies the player and/or operates as a pre-loaded cash card to enable the game to be played.
  • FIG. 2 is a system diagram illustrating the interconnectivity of a video gaming machine environment suitable for embodiments of the present invention. One or more video gaming machines 210 are connected to an operator server 220 through the operator network 230. Again, in the illustrated environment, the video gaming machines 210 are video poker machines but it will be appreciated that other video gaming machines could likewise be connected to the same network. For the illustrated video poker machines, a display 240 is provided with a variety of content including a payout table 250 and a card stack 260. In addition, the present invention includes a section for the display of entertainment content 270 and/or promotional or advertising content 275. Each of the video gaming machines is equipped, either internally or externally, with a controller box 280. The controller box 280 is interconnected with a main processor or controller for the video gaming machine as well as being connected to a promotional server 290. The controller box 280 is illustrated as being connected to the promotional server 290 through a network 285 which may include the Internet, or some other public or private network. However, the promotional server 290 may connect to the controller boxes 280 through a dial-up connection, wireless connection, or dedicated lines as well. The controller boxes 280 are also connected to an entertainment source 295. The entertainment source could be a cable television feed, satellite feed, recorded information, internet or computer based application, another content system, an online or computer based store, or a variety of other sources.
  • In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the operations applicable to FIG. 1 are still in force and additional operations are added. The controller box 280 drives a portion of the display 240 by providing the entertainment content 270 and/or the advertising content 275.
  • The entertainment content 270 is provided to the display 240 by a feed from the entertainment content source 295 through the controller box 280. If the entertainment content source 295 includes multiple channels, the actual channel displayed can be controlled either through the controller box 280 or through the controller box 280 operating together with the promotional server 290. In some embodiments, the display 240 may be a touch sensitive screen. In these embodiments, the controller box 280 can also provide control buttons on the display 240 to allow a player to select a particular entertainment content channel, adjust the volume, hide the display, freeze the display, zoom in or out on the display, mute the audio, or the like. In other embodiments, special keys or buttons can be added to the machine, or existing keys or buttons can be redefined to facilitate this functionality.
  • It should be appreciated that the entertainment content may include a wide variety of content. For instance, the content may include horse races, sporting events, lottery participation, commerce transactions, etc. Thus, in operation, a video gaming machine incorporating the controller box aspect of the present invention inserts video or information content to be displayed on the display 240 of the video gaming machine. The video or information content prompts or invites a player to participate in or place a bet on the promotional event. For instance, in one embodiment of the invention, a player may be invited to participate in a sporting event. In this embodiment, the present invention operates to utilize at least a portion of the display 240 to indicate that the player may place a bet and/or view a sporting event. Buttons or actuators on the video gaming machine can then be defined as response buttons and monitored for player action. Thus, as an example a pop-up window may indicate that a sporting event is about to begin or is underway and ask the player if he or she would like to place a bet on the expected outcome and/or to view the event while at the video gaming machine. The window may define which buttons, levers or actuators on the video gaming machine may be used in response and then, monitor for any actuations. Thus, a player may hit one button to indicate he or she wishes to place a bet, another button to pass, and another button to indicate he or she wishes to view the event.
  • FIG. 7 is a flow diagram illustrating the steps involved in one embodiment of the promotional event aspect of the present invention. Initially, the player is notified of the ability to participate in the event or is invited to participate in an event 702, such as through the use of a pop-up window appearing on the display of the video gaming machine. The player has several options at this point, such as indicating a desire to place a bet, passing, or simply watching the event 704. In other embodiments, the user may have additional options and the present example is a non-limiting application. If the player selects the option to participate, in an exemplary embodiment the player is presented with another screen or window indicating the options for placing the bet 706. For instance, the player may be able to wager (a) from the current balance held in the video gaming machine; (b) from the balance the player may have in a magnetic strip card; (c) enter a specific amount to be billed to his or her room or account number; (d) enter a credit card number or the like. The player then elects the manner and amount of the wager and the wager is received 708. Once the player places the bet, the player may be presented with the option to view the event or to return to playing the video machine (or both) 710. If the player elects to view the event, the event may be presented to the user on the video gaming machine display or an alternative viewing means (such as a handheld device) 712. Viewing the event may take on a variety of forms, including but not limited to, a live video feed of the event, a live audio feed, Once the event is over, if the player has gained an award, the award is distributed to the payer in one of a variety of manners 714. If the player is still using the video gaming machine, the player may simply be credited with the award by increasing the balance on the video gaming machine. Alternatively, the players magnetic card balance may be increased, the player may receive a notice to visit the cashier, the player's credit card may be credited, etc. It should be appreciated that the provision of this aspect of the present invention may be provided through the promotional server, the controller box, a separate device, or a combination of two or more of these devices.
  • Alternatively, the player may elect to pass on the ability to wager on the event or the player may simply request to view the event 720.
  • Thus, this aspect of the present invention may be used to invite a player to bet on a currently running boxing event. As another example, a pop-up window may invite a player to purchase an item at a discounted price. For instance, while the player is engaged in activity with a video gaming machine, the player maybe be prompted or invited to make a purchase in the casino gift shop, purchase tickets for an event at a discounted price, or to purchase and make reservations at a restaurant. In this example, the display presents an offer to the player and prompts the player to either accept or reject the offer. Alternative embodiments may allow the player to request further information, look at other offers, etc.
  • The present invention may also be used to invite a player to place a drink, dinner or other order to be delivered to the player at the video gaming machine. For instance, in one embodiment of the invention, if a player is active on a machine as a meal time is approaching, the player may be presented with a window inviting the player to order food services for delivery to the video gaming machine. The user may be presented with a menu from which he or she can select a meal. The meal can be immediately deducted from the players current balance in the machine, billed to the players room or credit card, or delivered on a COD type basis.
  • Another aspect of the present invention is to provide player specific messages. For instance, if a player uses a magnetic strip card to load value into the video gaming machine, the identity of the player is known. With this information, player specific messages can be provided to the player while he or she is using a video gaming machine. For instance, if the player has logged in a certain amount of time on the machine, the player may be invited to upgrade his or her room Likewise, if a message is left for the player, or the player receives a telephone call, the present invention can be utilized to notify the player of such.
  • This aspect of the present invention can be provided using a variety or a combination of system or components. For instance, this aspect of the present invention may be embodied within a controller box 280 embedded or interfaced to the video gaming machine. In this embodiment, the controller box 280 interfaces to an external source for the promotional event, activity, offer, or the like, analyzes the same and formulates the presentation to the customer. In addition, the controller box 280 detects, receives and interprets all activities of the customer, monitors the event, activity or offer and provides or assists in all fulfillment activities. In such an embodiment, the controller box includes a display interface that can interface with the display system of the video gaming machine. Through the display interface, the controller box 280 can operate to display an invitation to the customer on the display of the video gaming device, thereby inviting the customer to participate in an event, provide status information pertaining to the event, and provide results information regarding the outcome of the event. The controller box 280 also includes an interface to one or more actuation devices on the video gaming machine to receive a response from a player indicating acceptance of the invitation, request for more information, acceptance of an offer, provision of funding information or the like. The controller box 280 also includes an interface to an event monitor for obtaining status information pertaining to the event. It should be appreciated that the present invention can be incorporated into other systems, such as a promotional server, or a combination of one or more systems.
  • The advertising content 275 is provided to the display 240 either by a feed from the entertainment content source 295 under the control of the controller box 280 or, from the promotional server 290 under the control of the controller box 280. For advertisement content from the entertainment feed, the operation is similar to that described for the entertainment content. However, for advertising content 275 from the promotional server 290, several innovative capabilities are provided. One such innovative capability is allowing the operator of the video gaming machines 210 to customize promotional events and advertise the promotional events on the display 240 of the video gaming machine 210. Another such innovative capability is enabling the play of the video gaming machine 210 to be monitored in view of the promotional event and control the granting of awards for the promotional event in a closed-loop manner.
  • The operator of the video gaming machines can customize the promotional events available on the video gaming machines 210 through the use of the promotional server 290. The operator can directly access the promotional server 290 or can access the promotional server through the network 285 from a remote machine 297. In practice, the promotional server 290 executes a software program that provides a programming functionality for promotional events. The actual configuration of the software program can vary between embodiments but in general, the software program includes, but is not limited to the following functionality:
  • (a) creation of content to display for promotional events;
  • (b) establishing schedule of promotional events; and
  • (c) driving video gaming machines (Closed-loop Operation).
  • Creating Content for Promotional Events
  • The operator creates content to display for a promotional event. The display of the content can vary from embodiment to embodiment. FIG. 3 a-3 b illustrate two exemplary displays to advertise a promotional event. The content could include graphics, text, moving video, audio or a combination of any of these. The promotional server 290 allows the content to be created either utilizing the software program or to be created elsewhere and imported into the promotional server 290. The promotional server 290 maintains a database of the promotional content and the scheduling information. The operator is able to create multiple displays for a variety of promotional events and store them into the promotional server 290 for current use or for later use. FIG. 3 a shows a display format that encompasses the display area for both the entertainment content 270 and the advertising content 275. FIG. 3 b shows a display format that encompasses only the display area for the advertisement content 275. Other configurations are also anticipated such as, but not limited to, flashing the entire display 240, scrolling across a portion of the display 240 and encompassing the entire display 240 for a period of time. Once the content has been created, the operator can establish a schedule for the promotional events.
  • Establishing a Schedule
  • The operator establishes a schedule for the promotional events that can include, among other parameters, the date and time for the event, the duration of the event, and the display content to promote the event. In one embodiment, the schedule is presented in the form of a playlist. Each item in the playlist can be customized and scheduled. FIG. 4 is screen shot illustrating one embodiment of the playlist. The playlist consist of multiple slots (Slot 1-10 in this example) and can be spread out over multiple pages (page 1-6 in this example). In the illustrated embodiment, Slots 2-4 and Slot 6 hold advertising content. Slot 7 has been programmed to hold promotional content. Furthermore, the illustrated embodiment is implemented in mark-up languages and viewable through a standard browser, however, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the particular implementation language and/or technology, as well as the specific formats, look-and-feel and operations of the software program are independent of and not relevant to the particular operations of the described aspects of the present invention. Thus, although the remaining examples will be described as including particular operations that result in particular screen views, the present invention is not limited in such a manner.
  • To edit or create promotional content, the user selects the applicable Slot X hyperlink. For instance, if an operator desires to create the promotional event that is currently displayed in Slot 7, the operator selects Slot 7 and the resulting display is illustrated in FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 5 is a screen shot illustrating the programming screen for a promotional event. The programming screen includes a bonus area 510, a scheduling area 520, a promotional definition area 530 and a preview of the promotional content area 540. The bonus area 510 identifies the bonus points that have been awarded during a particular period of time. This feature allows the operator to keep track of the amount of bonus points that have been awarded. It should be appreciated that the bonus points can represent a variety of awards. For instance, in a gambling embodiment, the bonus points may translate directly into monetary units. In a gaming scenario, the bonus points may represent credits for additional play or can be redeemed for prizes. In a charitable situation, the bonus points may translate into bidding power for a silent auction. In a restaurant/bar setting, the bonus points may translate into discounts for food or beverages. It should be appreciated that additional uses could easily be identified for various scenarios. The bonus area 510 also identifies the bonus point available. This may represent the amount of bonus awards that the operator has remaining in his desired budget. For instance, for a particular period, an operator may budget bonus points and the budgeted amount will be the sum of the total bonus points awarded and the bonus points available for this period. The bonus area 510 also includes an editable field in which the operator can select the bonus points that will be awarded for a particular promotional event. In the illustrated embodiment, the operator has selected 10,000 bonus points. In one embodiment, the promotional event can be scheduled to run for a particular period of time and/or until a budgeted amount of bonus points have been awarded.
  • The scheduling area 520 includes two sub-areas, the promotion active time 522 and the promotion display active time 524. During the programmed promotion display active time, the promotional content identified in the promotional content area 540 will be available for display. During the programmed promotion active time the promotion will actually be in effect. In some embodiments, an additional field can be displayed and edited to allow the operator to select the duration of time that will be dedicated to the slot in which the promotional event is programmed. For example, each programmed slot may be allocated to be 15 seconds and be cycled on the display in a round-robin fashion. Thus, when actual time falls within the programmed display active time for the promotional event, the promotional content will be displayed in a periodic manner. It should be appreciated that priorities could be assigned to particular slots and that varying time frames can be allocated for various slots also.
  • The promotional definition area 530 allows the operator to define the particular winning criteria for the promotional event. In the illustrated embodiment, the operator has selected the following hand to constitute a win:
  • A
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00001
    3
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00002
    4
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00003
    5
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00004
    6
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00001
    .
  • The operator may also program “don't care” or “wild card” conditions also. For instance, on Valentines Day, the operator may run a promotion in which the following hands constitute a win:
  • Q
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00002
    K
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00002
    (don't care) (don't care) (don't care) or
  • Q
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00002
    (wild card) (don't care) (don't care) (don't care) where a wild card is any card that is a heart.
  • Thus, a player that draws the Q
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00002
    and the K
    Figure US20120329549A1-20121227-P00002
    or any heart card in any hand during the active time for the promotion would be awarded the bonus points.
  • The preview of the promotional content area 540 indicates the content that will be displayed during the programmed program display active time. In some embodiments, multiple content formats can be provided and the operator can select from the various formats. In other embodiments, an operator may select multiple formats that can be cycled through or randomly selected during the programmed promotion display time. It should be appreciated that the software program can automatically generate the display content, allow an editing function so that the operator can customize the display content, or allow the operator to import display content created from another application.
  • Closed-loop Operation
  • The present invention also provides for closed-loop operation. The closed-loop operation, in general, allows for the recording of events that satisfy the winning criteria and then reporting the win to the operator in a controlled and secure or reliable manner. Advantageously, this aspect of the present invention helps to reduce or eliminate fraud in the awarding of bonus points to players.
  • In operation, the controller box 280 interfaces to the processor of the gaming machine 210 and to the promotional server 290. The controller box monitors activity information pertaining to the operation of the gaming machine. Although the gaming machines typically filter out hands that are transmitted over the network 130 to the operator server 120, the gaming machines 210 still include the logic to identify the hands that are not classified as winning hands on the payout table 250. The controller box 280 interfaces with the processor to identify all hands that are dealt.
  • This aspect of the present invention advantageously enables the monitoring and tracking of a variety of demographic information. For instance, in a video poker game environment, the controller box 280 can monitor and track the operations of a player, such as hands dealt, cards held, cards discarded, etc. This information could be used for a variety of purposes including identifying unsophisticated players that may need to attend a help session or players that are trying to trick the machine.
  • The present invention also includes the ability for the player to interact with the gaming machine 210 in response to the promotion. For instance, during a promotion, or even during standard play, the present invention can operate to display a message to the player to prompt for an action, and then provide an award based on that action. One example is to display a message directed towards a particular gaming machine 210 or a particular player, or a message directed across multiple gaming machines 210. A typical message could state that the first 50 players to perform a particular task will receive an award. The particular task could be a variety of different tasks, including but not limited to, pressing a certain button on the gaming machine 210, playing an additional round on the gaming machine 210, betting a certain amount, betting a threshold amount for a given number of hands, and cashing in a requested number of bonus points. The award could also be a variety of things, such as a coupon for a $2.00 steak dinner, a 10% discount at the gift shop, or a free round of golf with the purchase of a round. Depending on the particular embodiment, the players responding to the prompt may receive a printed receipt generated by the gaming machine 210, have the coupon recorded onto a magnetic strip of a card, receive a token, be requested to enter identification information into the gaming machine that can later be used to verify the win, or the machine can simply sound a bell or flash a light to get the attention of a game room attendant that can provide the coupon to the player.
  • In another example, the message may state that a player can exchange points or perform tasks to view pay-per-view content. The response time for performing the task may be restricted (i.e., in the next 5 minutes or immediately) or may be conditional on other attributes such as betting amounts, playing time, or the like. In one embodiment, while the promotional message is displayed, the player can respond by touching the displayed promotion on a touch sensitive screen. A confirmation message will then appear to verify that the player wants to exchange points, or pay for the reception of the pay-per-view content. In one embodiment, the gaming machine can print out a ticket that the player can use to access the pay-per-view content. In another embodiment, the pay-per-view content may directly appear on the gaming machines screen. In this embodiment, the player may be required to meet certain playing thresholds to keep the pay-per-view content on the screen (i.e., minimum number of bets per hour, betting a minimum amount).
  • Another variation on promotional events that can be implemented in an embodiment of the present invention is a tiered promotion. The tiered promotion requires a player to opt-in to a promotion. In operation, a promotional message is provided to the player indicating that the player can pay an additional fee (i.e. points or money) to win a chance at 10,000 additional bonus points if they meet certain win criteria. Such a promotion could be limited on a per session basis
  • In one embodiment, the promotional server 290 may download into the controller box 280 all of the information regarding the scheduling of advertisements and promotional events. In this embodiment, the controller box 280 operates to control the display and timing of the display. In addition, during the programmed promotion active time, the controller box 280 will monitor for hands that meet the winning criteria. Once a winning hand is identified, the controller box 280 will notify the promotional event server 290 and provide any necessary information such as, but not limited to, the identity of the video gaming machine 210, the identity of the player, the time and date and the particular hand that satisfies the criteria.
  • In another embodiment, the controller box 280 may operate more similar to a dummy terminal. In this embodiment, the promotional event sever 290 is responsible for controlling the timing and content of the display and continuously downloads the necessary information to the controller box 280. The controller box 280 then controls the actual display of the content onto the display screen 240 of the video gaming machine 210. The controller box 280 then sends information to the promotional event server 290 for every hand that is dealt and the promotional event server 290 monitors the hands to identify when winning criteria has been met.
  • It should be appreciated that these two embodiments are just two illustrative embodiments as to how the processing power for the closed-loop system can be allocated. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the actual processing power attributed to the various tasks can be allocated between the controller box 280 and the promotional event server 290 in a variety of fashions and the present invention is not limited to any particular configuration. In fact, all of the functionality can be incorporated into either the controller box 280 or the promotional event server 290 and totally eliminate the need for the other device.
  • Ultimately, the promotional event server 290 obtains the information necessary to identify the player and the award that has been earned by the player. The operator can extract this information directly from the promotional event server 290, by accessing the promotional event server 290 through the network, or the promotional event server 290 may also include a direct or indirect interface to the operator server 120 over which the promotional event server 290 uploads the information.
  • Thus, it should be evident that the present invention eliminates the risk of loss associated with the current art in which the operator is dependent upon the integrity of an employee or any other party that would ordinarily be responsible for being approached by a player purporting to have qualified as a winner, who then must physically visit the particular gaming machine 210 to observe the display, and then record the information and report that information back to the operator.
  • FIG. 6 is a flow diagram summarizing the operations of the promotional server and the controller box. At step 610, the operator using the promotional server identifies the award to be associated with a new promotional event. At step 615, the operator defines the schedule for the promotional event. The schedule includes at least two components. One component is the time period that advertising content for the promotional event will be displayed. The other component is the actual time period during which the promotional event will be active. In some embodiments these two time periods can be identical thus eliminating the need to program two time periods. At step 620, the operator defines the winning criteria. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5, this step includes selecting the cards to be included in the winning hand. However, this step can vary greatly depending on the embodiment of the invention. For instance, in a restaurant setting, this step may include identifying a menu item. At step 625, the operator defines the promotional content to be displayed for advertising the promotional event. This step could involve importing a graphic or text file from another source or actually defining the art work. At step 630, the information pertaining to the promotional event is provided to the controller box 280.
  • It should be appreciated that multiple promotional events can be scheduled and loaded into the controller box 280. In fact, multiple promotional events can be concurrently active. The controller box can receive a download of all scheduled promotional events and at step 635, the controller box displays the advertising content pertaining to the promotional events in accordance with the schedule associated with the promotional events. Alternatively, the promotional server may only download information to the controller box when the information is active. At step 640, the controller box monitors the activity of the gaming machine in accordance with the schedule associated with the active time period for the promotional event. At step 645, the controller box 280 identifies that the criteria for a winning event has been satisfied. At step 650, the controller box 280 creates a record regarding the winning event. Depending on the particular embodiment, the content in this record can vary greatly. Typical embodiments will include information such as, but not limited to, the identity of the gaming machine, the identity of the player, the time and date of the winning event, the winning event, the identification of the promotional event, the address of the gaming machine, the location of the gaming machine, etc. In some embodiments, the controller may include a GPS signal receiver that can be used to identify the location of the gaming machine. At step 655, the record is delivered to the promotional server 290.
  • It should be appreciated that the present invention also enables the reporting of other activity that is not necessarily associated with a promotional event. For instance, the operator may want to establish a maintenance schedule for the equipment based on particular criteria. The present invention can be used to define such criteria and monitor for the satisfaction of the criteria. For instance, such criteria could include events such as hours of usage, number of key presses, number of key presses for particular keys, detection of operating errors, detection of loss of power, or the like.
  • The present invention could also be used to identify the amount of financial exposure an operator has with his currently running promotions. For instance, if a budget has been set for the promotion, the system can monitor the payouts that have been awarded during the promotional event and, based upon this information the operator or the system can make decisions to limit or expand the duration or winning criteria of the promotion. Likewise, the operator can allocate additional bonus points to the budget, or further limit the budget of a promotional event based on the operator's historical business performance with the promotion.
  • From the information obtained through the use of various embodiments of the present invention, the success or failures of certain promotions can be analyzed. This analysis can be used to identify particular attributes that may have contributed to the success or failure of the promotion. For instance, the duration of the promotion, the time of day the promotion was run, the date of the promotion, the amount of awards available for the promotion and the winning criteria of the promotion are several attributes that can be monitored and tracked to determine what effect, if any, these attributes have on driving the behavior of the players. As an example, an operator may determine that a particular promotion that runs in the morning may be more likely to generate playing time from players than is generated when the promotion is run in the evening.
  • The promotional server 290 stores received records at step 660 and maintains a database of records received from the controller box 280. It should be appreciated that the promotional server 290 can support many controller boxes 280 for many different operators. Thus, the promotional server 290 includes a security mechanism to restrict access to records and files. Such security mechanism may be password protection, or may include more advanced security techniques that should be familiar to those skilled in the art.
  • Operation in Other Settings
  • Although the present invention has been described with particular reference to a gaming or gambling scenario, the present invention, or aspects of the present invention, may be equally applied in a variety of other settings. For instance, in a restaurant setting, aspects of the present invention can be used to display special events within the restaurant. Thus, if a restaurant owner wants to promote a particular item on the menu, the restaurant owner may program a promotional event to be displayed on monitors within the restaurant. One example of such an event may be that a 20% discount is available to any patrons ordering the chicken fried steak during a particular period of time or day. In the typical restaurant setting, this embodiment is dependent upon accurate reporting by the waiter or waitress, however, in this embodiment; the integrity afforded by the closed-loop system is not as important as in the gambling scenario.
  • The present invention can also be used for performing management or controlling functions in various environments. For instance, in the restaurant setting again, various criteria can be entered as the basis of “winning events” where the winning events define particular management or control events. For instance, winning events may be defined to monitor inventory levels. In this scenario, if the inventory of a particular item drops below a particular threshold, it may trigger a reorder message. As another example, if the inventory for a perishable item is in stock beyond a certain date or time period, a message can be triggered to identify that item as being expired. As yet another example, the winning event may identify a particular product and the ingredients of that product. In this scenario, a message can be triggered based on the duration that the product should exist on the shelf or be available to patrons prior to the expiration. In addition, a message may be triggered to indicate that the inventory of ingredients to create this product has decreased beyond a particular threshold. Other criteria that can be included in this scenario could be the historical pattern of the pace of selling this product. In each of these scenarios, the generated messages can be displayed on a monitor or sent to a communication device to notify the responsible parties.
  • The present invention could also be incorporated into a bowling alley scenario. In this embodiment, the controller box 280 interfaces to the scoring control mechanism for the bowling alley. On the individual scoring screens, various promotional events can be displayed, such as, hitting a strike between the hours of 3 pm to 4 pm will award a free game to the bowler.
  • FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate yet another embodiment of the present invention. In the illustrated embodiment, unique promotional events can be selected, and in some embodiments even defined by the player.
  • The general idea is to enable unique promotional events to be selected by the player (e.g. HIT 4 JACKS, WIN UP TO 25,000 POINTS), where as presently the promotional events are selected by the operator/casino. Thus, a player is enabled to select their promotional event, and which each promotional event may have different awards associated with them (the more frequent events the less valuable the award, etc.). A status bar or some other indicator may be displayed, either permanently, periodically, or while the event is active, on a legacy slot machine or other electronic gaming device. The status bar may be displayed based on an algorithm (i.e., periodically) or upon the request by the user) showing where the player is at in terms of points earned thus far. The player earns more points for that event the longer they play in an attempt to try and hit their promotional event. Some embodiments may include thresholds where the player does not lose the points that they have earned, once they reach a threshold level. Thus, for instance if the player decides to call it quits for the day, he or she may fall back only to the last threshold. Then, upon resuming, play, the player does not have to build back up from the start.
  • In some embodiments, the player may hit their promotional event, (i.e., say the player hits the event at the 11,363 point level 0 and then be presented with an option to take the points or keep playing (e.g. gamble). If the player decides to keep playing to obtain a higher award, they run the risk of never hitting the defined event again and if they stop playing, their points fall back to the baseline of the last threshold they met. Also, some embodiments may include a timer and require that the promotional event occur within this time period. If the event does not occur, then the player falls back to the baseline of the last threshold. Further, a quit may be defined by a timer thus allowing the player to: play, leave and come back, etc., several times within this period and not lose the position in points earned. However, if the player does not hit their promotional event, they fall back to the baseline again. Thus, it will be appreciated that there is a strategy the player can deploy to were eventually they can win the largest prize just by building up to higher thresholds and/or gambling to move them forward until they reach their event at its peak which could still take some time. Thus, advantageously the player is encouraged to play.
  • In general, this aspect of the various embodiments promotes user play by allowing a player to select or define a promotional event that has an award associated with it. The player then increases the potential award that can be attained by performing certain actions, such as playing for more time, taking certain risks, performing certain tasks, etc. This aspect of the various embodiments can be implemented in a wide variety of manners and FIGS. 8A and 8B simply illustrate one potential configuration of an embodiment. In operation, the player is presented with or in some other way enables the ability to select or define a promotional event. For instance, while a player is engaged in play, a pop-up window can be presented to the player informing the player that he or she may enter into a bonus-play by pressing a certain button or actuator on the machine (i.e., for a touch screen, this could include touching the pop-up window or a soft button, or may include a particular button). If the player performs the necessary actuation to enter bonus-play, the player may be presented with one or more promotional events that can be selected for the bonus play. For instance, as a non-limiting example, the promotional event may be a flush of all clubs (i.e., on St. Patrick's Day), a flush of all hearts (i.e., on Valentine's Day), Four Jacks, Even Straight (i.e. 2-4-6-8-10), etc. Each promotional event will have different awards associated with it. For instance, the more frequently occurring events will have a less valuable award and the less frequently occurring events may have a more valuable award. Thus, the value of the award can be inversely proportional to the probability of occurrence of the event.
  • In addition to presenting a list of selectable promotional events, or alternatively thereto, the player may be presented with an option to define a promotional event. In this embodiment, the player has the ability to define the promotional event for the bonus play. For instance, if the player so desires, he or she may customize a promotional event in any manner by selecting from a variety of variables and once selected the casino assigns a probability and/or value to the promotional event. As a non-limiting example, a player may define a customized promotional event by defining the trigger event of the promotional event—the event that causes a win. For instance, in video poker the trigger event may be a particular hand or a card combination, for a slot machine, the event may be a particular combination of items on the wheels, etc. For instance, in a typical video poker game, the player may select or define a trigger event that includes cards representing that ages of his or her children (i.e., 10, 8, 7, 4, 2), or any other particular combination of cards.
  • The player may also be given the ability to define other parameters or aspects of the promotional event. For instance, the player may select a promotional event that endures for a period of time, such as an hour, a day, a week, etc. Depending on the playing habits of the player, the player may define a promotional event that awards rapid playing, aggressive betting, continuous play, etc. In addition, the player may be able to define the range of awards that can be attained. In such embodiments, the system may adjust the performance criteria based on the selected range as well as other factors.
  • Once the promotional event is defined by the player, the casino then attributes a value to the occurrence of the event based on its probability.
  • The value associated with a promotional event has two components, a minimum award and a maximum award. The minimum reward is a guaranteed value to be awarded to the player if the promotional event occurs. The maximum reward is largest amount of value that be awarded to the player if the event occurs. Both of these values may be derived actuarially by the casino based on the selected or defined promotional event or in other embodiments, various criteria may be employed in the selection of the values, including but not limited to, the skill of the player, the type of game, etc. Certainly in some embodiments, a single award value may be utilized (i.e., minimum reward=maximum reward) and in other embodiments, a minimum and maximum value can be arbitrarily assigned or assigned based on historical payout data.
  • In some embodiments, it will also be appreciated that multiple events may be defined. For instance, the promotional event may include scaled event triggers. In such an embodiment, if one event occurs, the player may be eligible for a particular award but if another event occurs, the player may be eligible for a different award (e.g. hitting all defined pay table payouts). In some embodiments one or more of the events could result in negative ramifications such as cancelling the promotional event, decreasing the award available, etc. As a non-limiting example, if the promotional event includes an award for drawing all four Jacks, the promotional event may include a greater award for drawing all four Jacks and the Queen of Hearts or a lesser reward for drawing three Jacks. Further, in some embodiments the player may be offered the option of taking a lesser award or deferring for a higher award.
  • The promotional events also include one or more performance requirements. The performance requirements identify actions that must be taken by the player to (a) advance from the minimum award towards the maximum award, (b) maintain the ability to obtain the award, (c) actions or non-actions that can result in decreasing the award, etc. Thus, the actual award that is provided to the player upon occurrence of the event is dependent upon the performance requirements associated with the promotional event. As a non-limiting example, the performance requirements of a particular promotional event may be that the player must log six (6) hours of playing time over a given period of time—such as 48 hours. As another non-limiting example, the performance requirements of a particular promotional event may require the player to cumulatively wager a certain amount of money or points over a given period of time—such as 24 hours. Many other performance requirements may also be employed and be based on activities, such as, but not limited to, the time between playing events, the frequency of playing events, the betting habits, the duration of play, the time/date of activity, etc.
  • Further, the promotional event may define a time/event scale over which the value awarded upon the occurrence of the event migrates from the minimum reward to the maximum reward. For instance, in one embodiment, simply engaging in the promotional event may trigger access to the minimum award if the event were to occur. As the performance requirements are detected, the value of the award can migrate from the minimum value to the maximum value in a variety of fashions, including but not limited to, linearly, exponentially, stepped, reciprocally, etc. In addition, in some embodiments a player can elect to pay extra, or forfeit available winnings to obtain a broader or narrower set of selection criteria. As a non-limiting example, a player may purchase a day pass or furlough that will allow the player to stop playing for 24 hours without suffering any adverse consequences. As another non-limiting example, the player may provide the payment in an effort to add additional criteria to be considered when determining the migration of the award value. For instance, the player may request that the payment of a bill for dinning in the casino's restaurant be included in the criteria, or playing another game, staying in a room at the casino or any other activities that can bring a benefit to the current provider. Thus, in an online gaming scenario, if the host has another website, the player may request that gaming activity on the other website also be included in the criteria. In yet other embodiments, the broadening or narrowing of the selection criteria can be an object of the selection criteria itself. For instance, rather than the player paying to have the selection criteria modified, the player can opt to have the selection criteria modified based on the players adherence to the present selection criteria. As a non-limiting example, a selection criteria may require the player to engage with the game at least once every 5 minutes to keep advancing and, to not abandon the game for more than 12 hours to avoid a reversion of the minimum award obtained. In such a scenario, if the player's actions have qualified him or her to have the current award advanced, the player may opt to modify the selection criteria instead. Thus, the player may opt to narrow the selection criteria by increasing the reversion threshold or to expand the selection criteria to include other player activities.
  • FIG. 8A is a generic bonus-bar feedback that can be used to further illustrate various potential details of the operation of this aspect of various embodiments. The bonus-bar illustrated in FIG. 8A could be periodically presented on the display of an electronic gaming machine, displayed upon evocation of the player, presented on a separate screen or display device, presented upon the occurrence of certain events, etc. The exemplary bonus-bar 800 is shown as including an event status/identification area that includes a status message 802, an event identifier 804 and a trigger message 806. The status message is used to provide an indication to the player of the overall status of the promotional event. In some embodiments a single message may be displayed such as a message indicating that (a) the promotional event is active, (b) the promotional event has an expiration date/time, (c) the promotional event is idle, (d) the promotional event is canceled, etc. In other embodiments, the status message may toggle between various messages and provide feedback to the player regarding the performance activities, the probability of a hit, the next threshold in the award advancement, etc.
  • The event identifier 804 is used to convey the type of promotional event that is active. This can be accomplished using text, graphics and/or video content. In general, the event identifier 804 may be used to illustrate what event will invoke the presentment of the award. In applicable embodiments, the event identifier may present each of the events that may invoke an award or some other positive or negative action either simultaneously or serially.
  • An award earning meter or histogram 808 in the bonus-bar provides a scaled presentment of the award earning status. For example, if the earning status is all the way to the left of the meter 808, then the current award would be equivalent to the minimum award and, if the earning status is all the way to the right of the meter 808, then the current award would be equivalent to the maximum award. Two status bubbles are also illustrated in the bonus-bar 800—fallback bubble 810 and status bubble 812. The status bubble 812 can be used to let the player know the current value of the award to be given if the event occurs, the amount of time remaining in the promotional event, etc. For example, if the award migrates from a minimum to a maximum award, the status bubble 812 may illustrate where along the meter the current award is and even display the actual value. In other embodiments, such as embodiments in which the award value is fixed, the meter 808 may simply indicate the time that the promotion will be active and the status bubble 812 shows the amount of time remaining in the promotional event.
  • The fallback bubble 810 is used to illustrate threshold minimum award values obtained. For instance, in some embodiments, a player may actively engage in play for a period of time and during such period of time, meet several performance requirements for an active promotional event. If the player then stops play for a certain period of time, the promotional event may be cancelled. In the alternative, the player may achieve a threshold fallback value at which even if the player becomes inactive, the award value will remain at this level. It should be appreciated that in various embodiments, a wide range of configurations may be used to define the parametrical operation of the promotional event. For instance, multiple fallback bubbles may be used for various actions or inactions of the player, sliding windows of award ranges may be used and illustrated on the meter 808 with the lower portion of the window defining a minimum award or a fallback threshold and the upper portion of the window defining a maximum award available at the present time.
  • FIG. 8B illustrates a specific implementation of the bonus bar illustrated in FIG. 8A. In the illustrated embodiment, the status message box 852 is shown as being tied to the trigger message 856 stating that the time remaining for the player to hit the promotional event is 12 hours, 32 minutes and 14 seconds. The illustrated promotional event 854 is the occurrence of having four Jacks dealt to the player. In the illustrated embodiment, the status message 852, trigger message 856 and event identifier 854 may be static—display the same information each time the bonus-bar 850 is displayed. In other embodiments, this information may be dynamic and change as the status of the promotional event changes, toggle between various trigger events, toggle between various events, etc.
  • A meter 858 is also illustrated in FIG. 8B. The illustrated meter 858 includes four step functions 872, 874, 876 and 878. Upon invoking or accepting participation in the promotional event, the player is initially given the opportunity to earn 5000 points 872 if the promotional event 854 is hit before the time 856 expires. As the player engages in gaming activity or any performance criteria, the current points counter 862 can be moved visually from one location to the next and may also present a current points count. The current points count is the current value that the player would receive if the promotional event hits. It should be appreciated that the graphics illustrated in these embodiments are simply one example and a wide range of graphics or textual presentations may be used for this feature. In addition, as the current points increase, other threshold values may be achieved. In the illustrated embodiment, when the current points reach 10,000, a guaranteed points flag 860 is raised to indicate that if the player walks or otherwise disengages from play and then later returns, that at a minimum the player will still be eligible for the guaranteed points value. The illustrated embodiment also includes steps of 15,000 points and then a maximum award of 25,000 points which also includes a bonus of $1500 worth of free play.
  • It will be appreciated that a wide range of activities can result in moving the current points count either in a positive or negative direction. For instance, the performance criteria may include a hand frequency median that if the number of hands per period of time falls below the median value, the current points may begin to decrement. Likewise, if the hand frequency is above the median, the current points count may increment. As another non-limiting example, if the average bet drops below or increases above a median value, the current points counter may decrease or increase respectively.
  • FIG. 9 is a flow diagram illustrating an exemplary process in the creation of a user defined/selectable promotional event and the operation thereof. Initially, a player requests to engage or participate in a promotional event 902. It will be appreciated that in some embodiments an electronic video machine or a controller box operating in conjunction with such a machine may prompt, invite or request a user to engage in a promotional event or, the user may autonomously initiate the process.
  • A user interface or other mechanism is then presented to the user/player to allow the player to begin to define the promotional event 904. The definition of the promotional event may simply be a player selecting a predefined promotional event or actually customizing his or her own promotional event. The player then provides selections or definitions for the promotional event 906. Once the player defined and/or selected parameters are known, the process then completes the definition of the promotional event by identifying or selecting award values and ranges 908. These may be selected based on a variety of criteria including the triggering event, the probability of the triggering event, the playing habits of the player, etc.
  • In addition, the process defines or completes the definition of performance requirements 912. At this point, the promotional event is completely defined and can then be initiated or invoked. While active, the playing activity and other activity of the player can be monitored and used to determine a current award value that is attributed to the occurrence of a trigger event 912. If a trigger event is detected 914, the player is presented with grant award options such as, but not limited to, receiving the payout, or gambling the payout for higher stakes.
  • It should also be appreciated that rather than implementing the entrance or enablement of bonus play by interfacing to an electronic gaming machine, the bonus play can also be enabled by interfacing with a casino employee who in turn can enable the gaming network, a particular machine, a currently active machine or even a non-integrated implementation (i.e. the players smartphone, home computer, etc) to commence bonus play. In the description and claims, each of the verbs, “comprise” “include” and “have”, and conjugates thereof, are used to indicate that the object or objects of the verb are not necessarily a complete listing of members, components, elements or parts of the subject or subjects of the verb.
  • The present invention has been described using detailed descriptions of embodiments thereof that are provided by way of example and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. It will be appreciated that other uses of the present invention are also anticipated. The described embodiments comprise different features, not all of which are required in all embodiments of the invention. Some embodiments of the present invention utilize only some of the features or possible combinations of the features. For instance, the controller box 280 has been described as interfacing to the processor and display of a particular machine. In some embodiments, the display and the processor may be totally independent. And example of such a scenario would be in a setting that the display includes a television or video monitor and the controller box 280 monitors activity of an independent device such as a juke box, trivia machine, point-of-sale terminal or arcade machine. Variations of embodiments of the present invention that are described and embodiments of the present invention comprising different combinations of features noted in the described embodiments will occur to persons of skilled in the art. The scope of the invention is limited only by the following claims.

Claims (26)

1. A method for providing player-defined promotional events to a player of a video gaming machine, the method comprising the actions of:
detecting the occurrence of an event for requesting a player-defined promotional event;
presenting on the display of a video gaming machine an interface for a player to enable a player-defined promotional event, wherein the player-defined promotional event defines a trigger event that if hit, results in granting of an award to the player;
selecting a minimum award and a maximum award to be associated with the promotional event, wherein the minimum and maximum reward are selected at least in part, based on the probability of the occurrence of the trigger event;
defining performance requirements for traversing a current award to a value between the minimum award and the maximum reward;
monitoring the play actions of the player and applying the performance requirements to the play actions to traverse the current award value;
detecting the occurrence of the trigger event; and
granting the current award value to the player.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the action of presenting on the display of a video gaming machine an interface for a player to enable a player-defined promotional event, further comprises displaying one or more promotional events that a player may select.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the action of presenting on the display of a video gaming machine an interface for a player to enable a player-defined promotional event, further comprises displaying a user interface that enables the player to define the trigger event.
4. The method of claim 1, further comprising the action of initiating a timer to restrict the promotional event to a particular period of time.
5. The method of claim 1, further comprising the action of setting at least one threshold award value that once the current award reaches the threshold, it cannot be decremented below the threshold.
6. The method of claim 1, further comprising the action of, prior to granting the award to the player after the action of detecting the occurrence of the trigger event, presenting on the display of a video gaming machine that is in use by the player the option to receive the current award or, gamble to wait for the occurrence of the trigger event when the current award is larger.
7. The method of claim 6, further comprising the action of modifying the performance criteria in response to the user electing to gamble to wait for the occurrence of the trigger event when the current award is larger.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance criteria includes a frequency of play threshold and, if the player's frequency of play is above the frequency of play threshold, increasing the current award value towards the maximum award value.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance criteria includes a frequency of play threshold and, if the player's frequency of play is below the frequency of play threshold, decreasing the current award value towards the maximum award value.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance criteria can be modified based on a payment by the player.
11. The method of claim 1, wherein the performance criteria can be modified as a player selected option rather than traversing the current award value.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the action of presenting on the display of a video gaming machine an interface for a player to enable a player-defined promotional event, further comprises displaying a user interface that enables the player to define the trigger event, further comprising the action of setting at least one threshold award value that once the current award reaches the threshold, it cannot be decremented below the threshold and the performance criteria establishes a delay period which if the player does not actuate the video gaming machine for the delay period, the current award will revert to the threshold.
13. A system for providing player-defined promotional events to a player of a video gaming machine, the system comprising:
a display interface for displaying a user interface to the player on the display of the video gaming device, thereby enabling the player to participate in and define a promotional event, provide status information pertaining to the event, and provide results information regarding the outcome of the event;
an interface to one or more actuation devices on the video gaming machine to receive promotional event definition information from the player; and
an interface to a promotional event monitor for obtaining status information pertaining to the promotional event.
14. The system of claim 13, further comprising the components of:
a controller box that directly interfaces to the video gaming machine display and actuation devices; and
a promotional server that provides status information regarding the promotional event.
15. The system of claim 14, further comprising a bonus-bar that is displayed on the display of the video gaming machine, the bonus-bar identifying the trigger event, the status of the promotional event, and the current award achievable by the player if the trigger event occurs.
16. The system of claim 15, wherein the bonus-bar is displayed periodically on the display of the video gaming machine.
17. The system of claim 15, wherein the bonus-bar is displayed on the display of the video gaming machine in response to user actions.
18. The system of claim 13, wherein the interface to one or more actuation devices on the video gaming machine to receive promotional event definition information from the player enables the player to define the trigger event for the promotional event and then, the system calculates a minimum award, a maximum award and performance criteria based at least in part on the probability of the occurrence of the defined trigger event.
19. A method for providing player-defined promotional events to a player of a video gaming machine, the method comprising the actions of:
receiving at the user interface of a video gaming machine, player selected information for defining a promotional event, the player selected information including information to define a trigger event;
identifying a probability of the occurrence of the trigger event;
selecting, based on the probability of the occurrence of the trigger event, a minimum award, a maximum award, and performance criteria to be associated with the promotional event;
monitoring the playing activity of the player and applying the performance requirements to the play actions to traverse a current award value between the minimum and maximum awards;
detecting the occurrence of the trigger event; and
granting the current award value to the player.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein the action of monitoring the playing activity of the player includes monitoring the player activity across a plurality of video gaming machines.
21. The method of claim 19, further comprising the action of setting at least one threshold award value that once the current award reaches the threshold, it cannot be decremented below the threshold and the performance criteria establishes a delay period which if the player does not actuate any of a plurality of video gaming machines for the delay period, the current award will revert to the threshold.
22. The method of claim 21, further comprising the action of initiating a timer to restrict the promotional event to a particular period of time.
23. A system for providing player-defined promotional events to a player of a video gaming machine, the system comprising:
an input interface for receiving a promotional event definition from a player;
a display interface for displaying a user interface to the player on the display of the video gaming device, thereby enabling the player to participate in the promotional event, to provide status information pertaining to the event, and to provide results information regarding the outcome of the event;
an actuator interface to one or more actuation devices on the video gaming machine to receive promotional event definition information from the player; and
an interface to a promotional event monitor for obtaining status information pertaining to the promotional event.
24. The system of claim 23, wherein the input interface is a network based interface allowing the player to provide the promotional event definition without interfacing directly to the gaming machine.
25. The system of claim 23, wherein the input interface is wireless allowing the player to provide the promotion event definition from a wireless device.
26. A system for providing player-defined promotional events to a player of a video gaming machine, the system comprising:
an input interface for receiving a promotional event definition from a player;
a display interface for displaying a user interface to the player on the display of the video gaming device, thereby enabling the player to participate in the promotional event, to provide status information pertaining to the event, and to provide results information regarding the outcome of the event;
an actuator interface to one or more actuation devices on the video gaming machine to receive promotional event definition information from the player; and
an interface to a promotional event monitor for obtaining status information pertaining to the promotional event.
US13/335,879 2003-10-20 2011-12-22 Player selectable/definable promotional events in electronic video game environments Abandoned US20120329549A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US10/689,407 US7335106B2 (en) 2003-10-20 2003-10-20 Closed-loop system for displaying promotional events and granting awards for electronic video games
US11/468,946 US9564004B2 (en) 2003-10-20 2006-08-31 Closed-loop system for providing additional event participation to electronic video game customers
US13/335,879 US20120329549A1 (en) 2003-10-20 2011-12-22 Player selectable/definable promotional events in electronic video game environments

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US13/335,879 US20120329549A1 (en) 2003-10-20 2011-12-22 Player selectable/definable promotional events in electronic video game environments

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US11/468,946 Continuation-In-Part US9564004B2 (en) 2003-10-20 2006-08-31 Closed-loop system for providing additional event participation to electronic video game customers

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