WO2009024983A1 - A computerized gaming system and a method of operating thereof - Google Patents

A computerized gaming system and a method of operating thereof Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2009024983A1
WO2009024983A1 PCT/IL2008/001151 IL2008001151W WO2009024983A1 WO 2009024983 A1 WO2009024983 A1 WO 2009024983A1 IL 2008001151 W IL2008001151 W IL 2008001151W WO 2009024983 A1 WO2009024983 A1 WO 2009024983A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
bonus
user
related data
game
related
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IL2008/001151
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Aaron Faktor
Original Assignee
Playtech Software Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to IB2007053329 priority Critical
Priority to IBPCT/IB2007/053329 priority
Application filed by Playtech Software Limited filed Critical Playtech Software Limited
Publication of WO2009024983A1 publication Critical patent/WO2009024983A1/en

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Classifications

    • 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
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes

Abstract

The present invention discloses a computerized gaming system enabling providing a bonus for a user who plays a game, a method of operating the system and a bonus module to be used in conjunction with the system. The computerized gaming system is configured to be used in a network environment and comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit, wherein the system further comprises a bonus module operatively coupled to at least one element of a group comprising the gaming server, the billing unit and the storage unit; at least one element of said group is configured to provide bonus-related data to the bonus module; the bonus module is configured to accommodate one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions; to obtain data from at least one element of said group, to process the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and, depending on a processing outcome, to inform the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.

Description

A COMPUTERIZED GAMING SYSTEM AND A METHOD OF OPERATING THEREOF

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to computerized gaming over a communication network, and more particularly to computerized gaming which encourages users to play.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The world of computerized gaming (including computerized gambling and/or wagering) over a communication network has greatly developed during the last decade, since the Internet and other networks have grown to be a meaningful and successful entertainment environment. Computerized network-based games may be implemented in various ways known in the art as disclosed, for example, in U.S. Patent No. 5,586,937; U.S. Patent No. 6,921,337; U.S. Patent No. 6,837,791; U.S. Patent No. 6,887,156; U.S. Patent No. 6,554,709; U.S. Patent No. 7,362,862; U.S. Patent No. 6,969,320; U.S. Patent No. 7,285,046 and others.

It is desirable for a game operator to encourage users to play more often and for longer periods of time each time they play, since the more time users spend playing, the higher the odds that the operator will win, and the higher the sum earned by the operator. The problem of encouraging the user to keep playing or to play longer has been recognized in prior art and various systems have been developed to provide a solution. For example, some operators encourage users by reducing the cost of gambling, or by improving the user's odds in one or more games, either randomly or according to a predetermined set of rules. Other operators provide the user with entertaining content, video, audio, text, or a combination thereof, to keep the user playing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, there is provided a computerized network-based gaming system and a method of operating thereof enabling rewarding a player of a computerized network game. Such rewarding may have significant influence on a user's desire to play and, accordingly, increase the time played by the user and thus the operator's expected profits. In a certain embodiment of the disclosed invention, bonuses are provided to players for occasions other than enrollment, registering with the gaming operator or placing a wager. For example, bonuses may be provided as a consequence or result of new and surprising events. The player may or may not be aware of the bonus-generating event. The bonus may be provided as a result of a wagering event or a transaction event, such as, by way of non- limiting example, five consecutive deposits of a sum higher than a predetermined threshold, ten deposits within a predetermined time range, or the like. By way of another non-limiting example, the event can be a non-wagering event, such as a birthday, a holiday, a reward from a third-party business after purchase because the user is among the top 10 experienced players online at a given moment, or the like. Additionally, the player may be notified of the event either a-priori, so that he or she can take actions to win the bonus, or once the bonus is given. The player may also be provided with the bonus when not playing, even while being offline. In accordance with certain aspects of the present invention, there is provided a computerized gaming system configured to be used in a network environment and comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit. The system further comprises a bonus module operatively coupled to the gaming server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit configured to provide bonus-related data to the bonus module. The bonus module is configured to accommodate one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions; to obtain bonus-related data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit; - to process the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and, - depending on a processing outcome, to inform the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.

In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit may be configured to recognize respective bonus- related event and, in accordance with the recognized event, to provide the bonus module with bonus-related data. The billing unit may be further configured to credit a user's account when the user receives a monetary bonus. The game server may be further configured to enable presentation of the proposed bonus and/or bonus award to the user. The storage unit may be further configured to accommodate bonus-related information obtained from the bonus module. In accordance with further aspects of the present invention the bonus module may be configured to obtain bonus-related data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit in a pull mode.

In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, the bonus module may be further configured to determine whether, when and/or in which manner to provide the bonus award.

In accordance with other aspects of the present invention, there is provided a bonus module configured for use with a computerized network-based gaming system comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit. The bonus module is operatively coupled to the gaming server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit and configured: to accommodate one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions;

- to obtain bonus related data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit; - to process the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and,

- depending on a processing outcome, to inform the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.

The information may comprise whether, when and/or in which manner to provide the bonus award.

In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, the bonus module may be further configured to obtain bonus-related data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit in a pull mode. The bonus module may be alternatively or additionally configured to obtain bonus-related data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit in a push mode upon occurring a certain bonus-related event. In accordance with other aspects of the present invention, there is provided a method of operating a computerized gaming system configured to be used in a network environment and comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit. The method comprises obtaining and accommodating one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions; automated obtaining bonus-related data from at least one element of a group comprising the gaming server, the billing unit and the storage unit; processing the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and, depending on a processing outcome, automated informing the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.

In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, at least part of bonus- related data is game-related data obtained from the game server in a push mode upon recognition of bonus-related game event, and/or is finance-related data obtained from the billing unit in a push mode upon recognition of bonus-related finance event; and/or user-related data obtained from the storage unit in a push mode upon recognition of bonus-related user event.

In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, at least part of bonus- related data is obtained from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit in a pull mode. In accordance with further aspects of the present invention, the method further comprises updating a user's account when the user receives a monetary bonus.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order to understand the invention and to see how it may be carried out in practice, certain embodiments will now be described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 illustrates a generalized network environment wherein the present invention may be implemented;

Fig. 2 illustrates a generalized functional block diagram of a gaming system in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention; Fig. 3 illustrates a schematic flowchart of a method of operating the gaming system in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known methods, procedures, components and circuits have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the present invention. In the drawings and description, identical reference numerals indicate those components that are common to different embodiments or configurations.

Unless specifically stated otherwise, as apparent from the following discussions, it is appreciated that throughout the specification discussions utilizing terms such as

"processing", "computing", "calculating", "determining", "generating", "recognizing" or the like, refer to the action and/or processes of a computer or computing system, or processor or similar electronic computing device, that manipulate and/or transform data represented as physical, such as electronic, quantities within the computing system's registers and/or memories into other data, similarly represented as physical quantities within the computing system's memories, registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.

The processes/devices presented herein are not inherently related to any particular electronic component or other apparatus, unless specifically stated otherwise. Various general purpose components may be used in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may prove convenient to construct a more specialized apparatus to perform the desired method. The desired structure for a variety of these systems will appear from the description below. In addition, embodiments of the present invention are not described with reference to any particular programming language. It will be appreciated that a variety of programming languages may be used to implement the teachings of the inventions as described herein.

The references cited in the background teach many principles of implementing and managing computerized network games that are applicable to the present invention.

Therefore the full contents of these publications are incorporated by reference herein where appropriate for appropriate teachings of additional or alternative details, features and/or technical background. Bearing this in mind, attention is drawn to Fig. 1 illustrating a generalized network environment wherein the present invention may be implemented. The illustrated network environment comprises a plurality of game clients 10 operatively coupled via a communication network 11 to a game server 13 comprised in a gaming system 12. The game clients may be associated with any device having input and display capabilities (e.g. personal computer, workstation, PDA, mobile phone, WebTV device, wagering machine, adaptive gaming machine, etc.) and capable to communicate with the game server 13 directly or via communication network (e.g. Wireline or Wireless Public Telephone Networks, Internet, Intranet, cable network, etc.). The game clients may be downloaded to the respective device and/or accessed with the help of such a device from the web via a web browser. In certain embodiments of the invention the device shall be also capable to execute at least part of a gaming application. In certain embodiments of the invention the game clients may be directly associated with the gaming system 12. The game server 13 is configured to receive input data from one or more game clients, to execute logic of one or more certain games accordingly, and to report outcome(s) to the game clients in accordance with gaming principles and rules. Server 13 is typically a server-side gaming application, wherein each gaming client 10 typically executes the corresponding client-side. The sharing of functions between the game server and the game clients may vary depending on the game and implementation thereof, for example the game client may provide only functions of input/output and/or additionally execute certain programs related to output graphics and/or additionally execute part or all programs related to a game logic and exchange the data with the game server, etc. The server and client applications may comprise software components written in any appropriate programming language such as, by way of non-limiting example, C, C#, C++, Java, VB, VB.Net, or the like, and developed under any appropriate development environment, such as, by way of non-limiting example, Visual Studio.Net, J2EE or the like. It will be appreciated that server and/or the clients can alternatively be implemented as firmware ported for a certain processor such as, by way of non-limiting example, digital signal processor (DSP) or microcontrollers, or can be implemented as hardware or configurable hardware such as, by way of non-limiting example, field programmable gate array (FPGA) or application specific integrated circuit (ASIC).

The game system further comprises a storage unit 15 operatively coupled with the game server 13. The storage unit is configured to accommodate all necessary information related to the games and users, including configuration of the game server (e.g. available games, game limits, etc.), users data and profiles, subscription management data and subscriber management (e.g. data related to opening an account for a user, closing an account, allowing a user to add or withdraw funds from an account, changing the user's address or personal identification number, etc.), session histories, detailed game results, monetary transactions, statistical data, etc. By way of non-limiting example, user-related data may include the user's name, address, age, gender, marital status, number of children, salary, occupation, hobbies and preferences or any other personal data. Additionally, user-related data may include data related to the gaming of certain users, for example, number and sums of wagers during the former week, favorite fields of games, sum of money won, fanner bonuses, etc.

The gaming system may comprise other servers (not shown) operatively coupled to the storage unit 15, as, by way of non-limiting example, security server, administration server, live game server and others. The servers are configured to exchange data with the storage unit 15. The game system further comprises a billing unit 14 operatively coupled with the game server 13 and the storage unit 15. In certain embodiments of the invention the billing unit may be also operatively coupled with the game clients. The billing unit is configured to accommodate and to manage user accounts and to enable performing of monetary transactions in accordance with data received from the game server, the storage unit and, optionally, the user.

Note that the invention is not bound by the specific architecture described with reference to Fig. 1. Those versed in the art will readily appreciate that the invention is, likewise, applicable to any network architecture facilitating computerized network- based gaming. Referring now to Fig. 2, there is illustrated a generalized functional block diagram of the gaming system in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention. The gaming system 20 comprises operatively coupled game server 23, storage unit 25 and billing unit 24. In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, the gaming system further comprises a bonus module 21 operatively coupled to the game server 23, storage unit 25 and billing unit 24. The bonus module accommodates certain rules and algorithms for bonus calculating as well as bonus award conditions; and is configured to obtain data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or the storage unit, to process the obtained data, and, depending on an outcome, to inform the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award, and to update the storage unit accordingly. The rules, algorithms and award conditions may be predefined and/or configurable, additional rules may be added via management tools (not shown) operatively coupled to the bonus module.

The term 'bonus' used in this specification shall be expansively construed to include any financial, material or virtual reward provided to one or more users. The bonus can also be a prospect to be rewarded with the reward, such as coupons, discounts, stocks, shares, physical prizes and/or a combination thereof.

In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, the game server 23 is configured to provide to the bonus module game-related data necessary for bonus calculation. In certain embodiments of the invention the game server is configured to recognize bonus-related game events and send the respective data in accordance with a recognized event. In other embodiments of the present invention the game server may send (in pull and/or push mode) to the bonus module game-related data necessary for bonus calculation regardless of bonus-related events. By way of non-limiting example, the bonus-related game event may be defined by a context of the game, by temporary or final game outcome, etc.; the game can be a card game, a computerized competition, a non-cyber world event such as a sport or a political event or the like. As will be further detailed with reference to Fig. 3, the game-related data for bonus calculation may include, by way of non-limiting example, a score within a certain predefined game content, wager, score, bet results, ratio of achieved score to predefined score, ratio of wager to achieved results, game duration, number of game sessions during predefined time period, etc. By way of non-limiting example, the wagering can be placed on sports events, such as horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai, football matches, golf, tennis, cricket, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, rugby, snooker, motor sports, boxing, darts, cross-country skiing, biathlon or the like. The wager placed on the sports event can either be placed on the final score, the identity of the winner, the score at a predetermined point or a period of time during the match, statistics of one or more players of one or more groups over one or more games or portions of games, ranks of groups or individuals in statistical tables, or any of the like. Alternatively, a wager can be placed on a card game, or types of games, selected for example from Sic Bo, baccarat, craps, roulette, keno, casino war, faro, pachinko, fan-tan, let It ride, 3-card poker, 4-card poker, red dog, pyramid poker, Caribbean stud poker, Spanish, Texas Hold'em Bonus Poker, blackjack, pai gow poker, or others. The bonus-related event may be based, by way of non-limiting example, on the final or partial score, results of one or more events, or statistics which occur during a portion of one or more games.

In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, the billing unit 24 is configured to provide to the bonus module with finance-related data necessary for bonus calculation. In certain embodiments of the invention the billing unit is configured to recognize bonus-related finance events and to send the respective data in accordance with the recognized event. In other embodiments of the present invention the billing unit may send (in pull and/or push mode) to the bonus module finance-related data necessary for bonus calculation regardless of finance bonus-related events. By way of non-limiting example, the finance bonus-related event and finance-related data necessary for bonus calculation may be defined by a user's general account status and/or statistics, and/or credit status, and/or certain financial transactions provided by a user as, for example, sum of overall and/or new deposit, number and/or total sum of transactions during a certain period, etc.

In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, the storage unit 25 is configured to provide to the bonus module with user-related data necessary for bonus calculation. In certain embodiments of the invention the storage unit is configured to recognize bonus-related user events and to send the respective data in accordance with the recognized event. In other embodiments of the present invention the storage unit may send (in pull and/or push mode) to the bonus module user-related data necessary for bonus calculation regardless of user bonus-related events. By way of non-limiting example, the user bonus-related event and user-related data necessary for bonus calculation may be a user's birthday, age, gender, credit card details, details relevant to current or former games played by the user (for example the number of games lost or won within the last hour), and the like.

Bonus module 21 is configured to determine whether, when and in which manner to provide the bonus according to data acquired from the game server and/or billing input and/or storage unit, and the manner of rewarding the user, either by money, credit for playing, coupons, discounts for specific goods or services, a combination thereof, or the like. In certain embodiments of the invention the coupon and/or discount may fit the user's needs or desires in accordance with user-related data received from the storage unit. The bonus module is configured to request such data, including users' preferences, from the storage unit when necessary.

In certain embodiments of the invention the bonus module may be configured to request and obtain bonus-related data from the game server and/or the billing unit and/or storage unit in accordance with in-between calculation results based on bonus related data obtained in a push mode. Basing on accommodated rules and conditions, the bonus module may pull the data from the same source it got the pushed data and/or from another source.

Optionally, the bonus module may interact with one or more external systems (not shown) in order to provide bonuses related to the systems (e.g. for a purpose of product promotion, marketing campaigns, etc.). The bonus may be displayed with entertainment content, with professional data or strategy regarding the game, general data such as news, or the like. The bonus module is configured to the event of bonus award, time the award to be provided, as well as the way and form of providing the bonus.

The game server 23 and/or billing unit 24 are further configured to receive bonus- related data from the bonus module, and to inform the game client 10 about the awarded bonus. The billing unit is further configured to credit the user's account when the user receives a monetary bonus. In certain embodiments of the invention the game server may inform the game client both about virtual (game related) bonus and real money, enable the user to select a desired bonus from several suggested bonuses, and/or enables the user to determine whether to accept or ignore the bonus. Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the invention is not bound by the configuration of Figs. 1-2; equivalent functionality may be consolidated or divided in another manner. In different embodiments of the invention the functional units and/or parts thereof may be placed in a single or in multiple geographical locations (including duplication for high-availability); operative connections between the units and within the units may be implemented directly or indirectly, including remote connection. The connection may be provided via Wire-line, Wireless, cable, Internet, Intranet, power, satellite or other networks and/or using any communication standard, system and/or protocol and variants or evolution thereof. The invention may also be practiced in distributed computing environments. The gaming system of the present invention may be also fully or partly integrated with different devices, including 3rd party equipment.

Those skilled in the art will also readily appreciate that the storage unit and the data accommodated therein may be divided between different parts of the gaming system in various manners. The accommodated data or part thereof may also be shared with other systems, including 3rd party equipment.

Referring now to Fig. 3, there is illustrated a generalized flowchart of a method of operating the game system. In accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, the operating of the gaming system includes the configuring (31) of bonus calculating rules and bonus award conditions. The rules and conditions are configured to define bonus-award evens, bonus parameters (e.g. value and type of bonus), manner and time of its presentation, etc. The configuration data or part thereof may be accommodated out of the gaming system and be received by the gaming system upon request. The operating further includes obtaining game-related bonus data (32) and/or finance related bonus-data (33) and/or user-related bonus data (34) as was detailed with reference to Fig. 2. These data may be obtained during operating any appropriate gaming system (e.g. operating as disclosed in the references cited in the background) and configured to be capable of executing the operations in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention; after termination of a gaming session and/or before a gaming session starts (the same is applicable also to further operations provided in accordance with a certain embodiment of the present invention). In certain embodiments of the invention part of data may be obtained by the bonus unit in a push mode, while other data (for example, user-related data) may be obtained in a pull mode during the process of bonus calculation.

The obtained data are processed in order to define matching to bonus award conditions (35), bonus parameters (36) and a manner and time of bonus presentation (37). The processing is provided in accordance with the configuration of bonus rules and conditions.

Accordingly, it is determined whether the user should receive a bonus; what form the bonus should take, e.g. monetary, goods, money to be used as wager, or the like; and how and when to provide the user with the bonus. Some bonuses may be provided after the user placed a wager, others can be provided even if a player is off-line, to encourage him to start playing, yet other bonuses can be provided for a certain result, for a reason not controllable or not even known to the player. In some cases, the bonus is conditioned by the user's financial or gaming actions. For example, the bonus will be activated only after a predefined number of games or period of time. The user may not be able to withdraw winning money if the predefined conditions are not satisfied.

In certain embodiments of the invention the user may determine whether to accept or ignore the bonus. The user may select a desired bonus from several bonuses suggested by the gaming apparatus. The several bonuses may be different in sum, payment terms and conditions required by the user to use the bonus or to withdraw it or money related to the bonus. The user may be enabled to withdraw money he owns as a result of the bonus only upon placing a sum higher than $1000, or only upon placing $500 on roulette. The conditions may vary from one game to another, and from one user to another, depending on the user's specific parameters. The period of time required for the user's bonus to count before he may withdraw his bonus may be initialized when the bonus is provided, when the user signs up, when the user starts a new game, uses a new credit card, starts playing a new type of game, or other actions which may define the user as being aware of the bonus. The user may be required to place money on at least a predefined sum in order to withdraw his credit, or to withdraw the money he has won. The predefined sum may differ according to game type, money spent on the game and a function thereof. Further, in order to encourage the user to play in specific games or game types, the bonus may be disabled for wagers placed on specific games or game types. For example, in case the minimal sum required is $500 and wagers on blackjack do not count, and the user placed $400 on roulette and $200 on blackjack, he will not be able to withdraw the sum of money won, since the threshold of $500, which excludes blackjack wagers, is not satisfied. Further, the minimal sum required may differ according to the game type on which the user placed wagers. For example, the user may be provided with a sum of $50 as a bonus, and the minimal sum to withdraw credit will be $500 in case of roulette wagers and $600 in case of any card game wager. Alternatively, the determination of minimal sum may be done based on rates. For example, $200 wagers on blackjack equal $20 bonus, while $200 wagers on roulette equal only $10 of the bonus. The sum of money placed on risk-less bets may also be excluded from the minimal sum of money required for the bonus to count. Risk-less bets may be equal bets on both black and red on the roulette on the same round, or placing half of the bet on the player and half of the banker on Baccarat, or "come" and "don't come" on craps. Risk-less bets may be predefined, or defined by a probability threshold, to which the odds not to lose money are smaller or bigger. Determining the bonus-related details may take into consideration the monetary balance of the user, as well as personal details, gaming history, or other parameters.

The bonus is presented (38) in accordance with results of the processing. The user's account is updated (39) when necessary (e.g. if the bonus is real money allowed for withdrawal by the user). Optionally, all or part of data related to bonus award events may be accommodated in the storage unit (40).

A bonus can be provided prior to playing, before or after depositing a wager, and before or after registering with the gaming operator. When the user finishes playing, he can cash out or otherwise receive his balance. Bonus calculations may also be provided after placing of money, after playing the game and resolving the results and sometimes after rewarding at least some of the winners of the game.

The bonus may be provided even when the user does not place money and/or goods and/or services, but plays for entertainment purposes. In this case, the bonus may be a virtual money, as is the wager placed by the user. It may be desirable to encourage users to play longer hours if the game is provided with commercial or advertising content, or if the user took an action, such as relating to an advertisement, shopping in a predetermined location, or the like.

The bonus may be provided to the user at any given time, either randomly or as a result of an event. The bonus may be provided after a predetermined amount of time elapsed since the beginning of playing, or after a number of games, in case the player won or lost a sum of money higher than a threshold, a sum of money higher or lower than a threshold relative to the duration of time played, or a predetermined number of games. The bonus may also be provided together with the wagering, before the beginning of the first game. In case the bonus is provided before the first game, it will preferably be provided as a credit for future games.

The bonus may be provided to encourage users to play in new fields. For example, a user who places wagers on sports events more than a predetermined percent of the time, for example 70%, will be provided with a bonus after competing in a predetermined number of trivia competitions. Alternatively, the user will only get the bonus if he places at least a predetermined sum of money on trivia competitions. Different bonuses may be provided, depending on the device the user uses for playing. If the user uses a pre-paid service in order to play and wager, the bonus is increased, and may be shared between the gaming operator and the communication service provider. The pre-paid communication may be telephone, television, wireless communication, Internet cafe, or the like.

The bonus may depend on temporary results or events during a game or after the game, in case the event had an effect on the user's wager. For example, in case the user plays versus one or more competitors rather than versus the operator, the bonus may be provided in case the competitors' wager was affected. For example, two competitors place their wager on the number of points scored by two other participants in a specific game. If the number of points of one participant is higher than the other participant's number of points, the user who placed the wager on the participant with the lower number will be provided with a bonus so as to encourage him. In other case, the bonus will be provided only if the difference between the points is larger than a predetermined threshold, or in case the difference between the number of wins and losses in the former number of wagers or the total number of wagers is higher or lower than a threshold. The threshold may either be represented as an integer number, such as 5, in case the user lost 8 and won 3 of the former 11 wagers, or depending on a percentage of successful wagers such as when the user lost more than 80% of the last 20 wagers.

The bonus may be provided in case the user lost a wager but the gap between winning and losing was lower than a predetermined threshold. For example, when playing black-jack, the user had 20 while the operator had 21, or the user took 4 cards, or any uncommon event, hi trivia competitions versus other competitions, the bonus may be provided in case the number of correct answers the user had was higher than a threshold, even if it did not result in winning the competition. In case of a sports event, if the party the player placed the wager on was leading most of the match, but was unsuccessful towards the end, the player may be provided with a bonus.

In case of a competition among two or more players or users, the bonus may also be provided upon ranking the players. For example, although only the top-scoring player wins, a predetermined number of players having the next highest scores may be entitled to a bonus. Ranking the users may also be done without competition, just upon personal statistics and specification, for example, ranking by age, gender, zip code, or any other information item related to the users. The ranking may be performed according to the number of games they ever played, the number of wins or losses, the difference or ratio between wins and losses, whether totally, within a time period, or in a sequence played during the ranking. For example, the player who has the highest number of consecutive games may be rewarded.

It is also advantageous to provide the users with bonuses as a reward for enrolling new users. In other embodiments, a portion of the bonuses for users enrolled by a player is provided to the player who enlisted the user, and so forth, like a pyramid. In other embodiments, if new users wager on different type of events, a special bonus will be provided.

In some exemplary embodiments of the present invention, the operator may notify the user that a bonus may be provided. The operator may further detail the essence of the bonus and when will it be provided, or just provide hints. For example, an operator may notify the user that a $50 credit for gaming will be provided in five more games, to encourage the user to play these five games. The bonus may be provided before or after the event detailed in the notification, according to the user's results after the notification. The notification may include an offer to play in a new field or for a higher amount of time or money, for example, notifying the user that a bonus will be provided if the user will place $5 for the next 3 wagers. The bonus may optionally be provided to the user when not using the system, for example sending to a player a holiday greeting with a bonus, birthday bonus or the like. In an exemplary embodiment, a bonus is provided when a predetermined period of time elapsed since the last wager, or when the sum of money placed is lower or higher than a threshold, either absolute, per player, per time unit, or the like. The bonus may also be provided with audio, video, or any entertaining content. The content may be related to the wager, such as displaying a teacher in case of a trivia competition or providing crowd sounds when the user wagers on sports events. Each user or group of users may have their favored icons or videos for receiving a bonus. In some embodiments, entertaining content is sent to the user prior to the bonus so that the user is encouraged when he notices new content.

The present invention also discloses a method of doing business. In some cases, the bonus provided to the user comprises one or more coupons or discounts, so the user is encouraged to increase consumption. For example, the bonus is a coupon for buying a shirt for $20 from a business, while the regular price of the shirt is $30. If the user buys the shirt, the gaming operator is rewarded with a sum of money. In other embodiments of the method of doing business of the present invention, the gaming operator pays the business related to the bonus a predetermined sum of money, preferably a portion of the difference between the regular price and the price offered by the coupon. Another embodiment of the business method comprises a step of advertising goods or services in addition to the coupon.

In addition to the above method, other embodiments provide steps of displaying to the user additional content transmitted from a gaming apparatus. The content may either be entertaining content or professional content to assist the user in succeeding in gaming. Another optional step of the method is determining the sum of money or credit provided as a bonus. The determination step is preferably done by a bonus module. The determination is performed according to the history of the user's wagers, money placed and wagering statistics. Another step is determining when and how to provide the bonus, and the method of providing it. The methods are selected from money, credit, coupons, discounts or a combination thereof.

It is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details set forth in the description contained herein or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. It should be noted that the invention is not bound by the specific algorithm of processing or specific data structure. Those versed in the art will readily appreciate that the invention is, likewise, applicable to any other processing or presentation with equivalent and/or modified functionality which may be consolidated or divided in another manner.

It will also be understood that the invention further contemplates a machine- readable memory tangibly embodying a program of instructions executable by the machine for executing the method of the invention.

The following numbered paragraphs define some embodiments of the invention: 1. A method of encouraging an at least one user to play a wagering game using a computing platform, the method comprising: determining the at least one user to be provided with a bonus; determining the bonus provided to the at least one user; providing the at least one user with the bonus; wherein the bonus is provided based on an at least one item selected from the group consisting of: a result of a game; a personal detail associated with the at least one user; a personal detail associated with another user; a gaming detail associated with the at least one user; a gaming detail associated with another player; information related to an at least one game; number of users placing wagers in a time unit; type of game played by the at least one user; device used by the at least one user for playing; commercials sent to the at least one user while playing; an action taken by the at least one user; and a function of two or more of the above. 2. The method according to embodiment 1, wherein the at least one user is at least two users.

3. The method according to embodiment 2 further comprising the steps of: receiving a sum placed by the at least two users; rewarding at least one of the at least two users with a first portion of the sum placed by the at least two users; providing a second portion of the sum placed by the at least two users as the bonus to at least one of the at least two users.

4. The method according to embodiment I, further comprising a step of billing an at least one user upon losing in the wagering game.

5. The method according to embodiment I, further comprising a step of notifying the at least one user regarding the bonus, a predetermined time prior to providing the bonus. 6. The method according to embodiment 1, further comprising a step of notifying the at least one user regarding the bonus, a predetermined number of games prior to the bonus award.

7. The method according to embodiment 1 , wherein the bonus is selected from the group consisting of: money; an equivalent of money; a coupon; goods; services; discount on one or more goods; discount on one or more services; and any combination thereof.

8. The method according to embodiment 1, wherein the bonus is provided before the wagering game played by the at least one user. 9. The method according to embodiment 1, wherein the bonus is provided during the wagering game played by the at least one user.

10. The method according to embodiment 1, wherein the bonus is provided after the wagering game played by the at least one user.

11. The method according to embodiment 1, wherein the wagering game is a card game.

12. The method according to embodiment 1 , wherein the game is selected from a group consisting of: poker; baccarat; slot machine; black jack; wagering on a sports game; wagering on a political event; wagering on a stock market event; wagering on an event associated with a famous person; a knowledge-based game; or a trivia game. 13. The method according to embodiment 1, further comprising a step of enabling the at least one user to accept or ignore the bonus.

14. The method according to embodiment 13, further comprising a step of comparing the sum of wagers of the at least one user's with a predetermined threshold.

15. The method according to embodiment 14, further comprising a step of limiting the at least one user's withdrawal of at least a portion of his credit in case the sum of money placed by the at least one user is lower than the predetermined threshold.

16. The method according to embodiment 14, further comprising a step of subtracting at least a portion of the sum of money placed by the at least one user from the sum of money compared with the predetermined threshold. 17. The method according to embodiment 16, wherein the step of subtracting the sum of money is based on a parameter selected from a group consisting of game type, predetermined period of time elapsing between providing a bonus and placing a wager, placing money on a risk-less bet, or a combination thereof.

18. A bonus apparatus for encouraging an at least one user to, play a wagering game using a computing platform by providing the at least one user with a bonus, the apparatus comprising: an input module for receiving data related to one or more items from the group consisting of: data relevant to the at least one user; data relevant to an at least one game; history of bonuses provided; additional data relevant for determining parameters related to the bonus; a bonus determination module for receiving information relevant for determining parameters related to the bonus from the input module and determining the bonus according to a predetermined set of rules; and an output module for receiving the bonus from the bonus determination module and sending notices relevant to providing of the bonus, wherein the bonus is provided based on an at least one item selected from the group consisting of: a result of a game; a personal detail associated with the at least one user; a personal detail associated with another user; a gaming detail associated with the at least one user; a gaming detail associated with another player; information related to an at least one game; number of users placing wagers in a time unit; type of game played by the at least one user; device used by the at least one user for playing; commercials sent to the at least one user while playing; an action taken by the at least one user; and a function of two or more of the above.

19. The apparatus according to embodiment 18 wherein the additional data relevant for determining parameters related to the bonus is selected from the group consisting of: sum of bonus provided, the at least one user provided with the bonus, type of bonus, currency, and time at which the bonus is provided.

20. The apparatus according to embodiment 18, further comprising a billing unit, adapted to receive data related to the bonus from the output module and change the credit of the at least one user accordingly. 21. The apparatus according to embodiment 18, wherein the apparatus is coupled to a gaming server adapted to manage the wagering game, said server receives wagers from the at least one user and provides the input module with data relevant to bonus determination.

22. The apparatus according to embodiment 21, wherein the bonus apparatus is incorporated within the gaming server. 23. The apparatus according to embodiment 18, further comprising a determining module, coupled to the bonus determination module, adapted to provide mathematical or logical processing based on information relevant for determining parameters related to the bonus.

24. The apparatus according to embodiment 18, further comprising a database for storing the information relevant for determining parameters related to the bonus.

25. A method of doing business comprising encouraging users playing a wagering game using a computing platform to increase consumption, the method comprising: providing the user with a bonus, wherein at least a portion of said bonus is a money equivalent bonus having a value, used for purchasing goods or services supplied by a business; the business paying an operator of the wagering game a portion of the value.

26. The method according to embodiment 25, wherein the at least portion of the bonus is provided as a coupon.

27. The method according to embodiment 25, wherein the at least portion of the bonus is provided as a discount.

Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that various modifications and changes can be applied to the embodiments of the invention as hereinbefore described without departing from its scope, defined in and by the appended claims.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A computerized gaming system configured to be used in a network environment and comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit, wherein (a) the system further comprises a bonus module operatively coupled to at least one element of a group comprising the gaming server, the billing unit and the storage unit; (b) at least one element of said group is configured to provide bonus-related data to the bonus module; (c) the bonus module is configured i) to accommodate one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions; ii) to obtain bonus-related data from at least one element of said group, iii) to process the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and iv) depending on a processing outcome, to inform the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.
2. The system of Claim 1 wherein the game server is configured to recognize a bonus-related game event and, in accordance with the recognized event, to provide the bonus module with game-related data, thus giving rise to bonus-related data or part thereof.
3. The system of Claims 1 or 2 wherein the billing unit is configured to recognize a bonus-related finance event and, in accordance with the recognized event, to provide the bonus module with finance-related data, thus giving rise to bonus-related data or part thereof.
4. The system of any one of Claims 1-3 wherein the storage unit is configured to recognize a bonus-related event and, in accordance with the recognized event, to provide the bonus module with user-related data, thus giving rise to bonus-related data or part thereof.
5. The system of any one of Claims 1-4 wherein the bonus module is configured to obtain bonus-related data from at least one element of said group in a pull mode.
6. The system of any one of Claims 1-5 wherein the bonus-related data are selected from a group comprising data relevant to one or more users; data relevant to one or more games; history of bonuses provided for one or more users and/or one or more games; combination of two or more above.
7. The system of any one of Claims 1-6 wherein the bonus module is further configured to determine whether, when and/or in which manner to provide the bonus award.
8. The system of any one of Claims 1-7 wherein the billing unit is further configured to credit a user's account when the user receives a monetary bonus.
9. A bonus module configured for use with a computerized network-based gaming system comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit, wherein said bonus module is operatively coupled to at least one element of a group comprising the gaming server, the billing unit and the storage unit and configured:
(a) to accommodate one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions;
(b) to obtain bonus related data from at least one element of said group, (c) to process the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and,
(d) depending on a processing outcome, to inform the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.
10. The bonus module of Claim 9 further configured to obtain bonus-related data from at least one element of said group in a pull mode.
11. The bonus module of Claims 9 or 10 further configured to obtain bonus-related data from at least one element of said group in a push mode upon occurring a certain bonus-related event.
12. The bonus module of any one of Claims 9-11 further configured to determine whether, when and/or in which manner to provide the bonus award.
13. A method of operating a computerized gaming system configured to be used in a network environment and comprising a gaming server operatively coupled to a billing unit and a storage unit, the method comprising:
(a) obtaining and accommodating one or more predefined and/or configurable rules for bonus calculating and/or bonus award conditions;
(b) automated obtaining bonus-related data from at least one element of a group comprising the gaming server, the billing unit and the storage unit;
(c) processing the obtained data in accordance with accommodated rules and conditions, and (d) depending on a processing outcome, automated informing the game server and/or the billing unit with regard to a bonus award.
14. The method of Claim 13 wherein the at least part of bonus-related data is game-related data obtained from the game server in a push mode upon recognition of bonus-related game event.
15. The method of Claims 13 or 14 wherein the at least part of bonus-related data is finance-related data obtained from the billing unit in a push mode upon recognition of bonus-related finance event.
16. The method of any one of Claims 13-15 wherein the at least part of bonus- related data is user-related data obtained from the storage unit in a push mode upon recognition of bonus-related user event.
17. The method of any one of Claims 13-16 wherein at least part of bonus-related data is obtained from at least one element of said group in a pull mode.
18. The method of any one of Claims 13-17 wherein the bonus-related data are selected from a group comprising data relevant to one or more users; data relevant to one or more games; history of bonuses provided for one or more users and/or one or more games; combination of two or more above.
19. The method of any one of Claims 13-18 further comprising determine whether, when and/or in which manner to provide the bonus award.
20. The method of any one of Claims 13-19 further comprising updating a user's account when the user receives a monetary bonus.
21. A computer program comprising computer program code means for performing all the steps of Claims 13-20 when said program is run on a computer.
22. A computer program as claimed in Claim 21 embodied on a computer readable medium.
PCT/IL2008/001151 2007-08-21 2008-08-21 A computerized gaming system and a method of operating thereof WO2009024983A1 (en)

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