|Publication number||US20010003100 A1|
|Application number||US 09/150,003|
|Publication date||7 Jun 2001|
|Filing date||8 Sep 1998|
|Priority date||14 Nov 1997|
|Publication number||09150003, 150003, US 2001/0003100 A1, US 2001/003100 A1, US 20010003100 A1, US 20010003100A1, US 2001003100 A1, US 2001003100A1, US-A1-20010003100, US-A1-2001003100, US2001/0003100A1, US2001/003100A1, US20010003100 A1, US20010003100A1, US2001003100 A1, US2001003100A1|
|Inventors||Michael W. Yacenda|
|Original Assignee||Michael W. Yacenda|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (77), Classifications (13), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
 This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 08/970,375, filed on Nov. 14, 1997.
 1. Technical Field
 This disclosure relates to gaming systems and more particularly, to a personal computer and telephone interactive system with audio response and method.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 It is typical for state lottery systems to provide agents to input a selection of lottery numbers into a lottery system database. Lottery players are often required to visit a local lottery agent located in public facilities and in some instances wait in line in order to participate in the lottery.
 Several solutions have been proposed for a remote access gaming system in which lottery number selection can be entered by telephone. One such system and method is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,922,522 to John M. Scanlon (Scanlon). Scanlon describes a customer interactive gaming system for periodically entering lottery number selections into the lottery database from a customer station over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Another system is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,415,416 to Scagnelli et al. Scagnelli et al. describes a wagering system which includes an autocall director unit (ACU) which routes calls to various voice response units depending on caller response data entered by pressing numbers on a phone keypad.
 An improved gaming system for either computer users or telephone users could be achieved if the system offered audio response over a telephone or computer network such as the Internet during game play. A more realistic and entertaining game could be achieved. The above mentioned patents do not describe systems having audio responses sent to the player over the Internet. Further, it would be advantageous to provide local area network connections from voice response units and the gaming system servers instead of a private branch exchange link, as described in the above patents because the number of lines needed for a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) can be prohibitive for high call volume systems.
 Therefore, a need exists for a real time interactive gaming system which provides visual as well as audio response during game play. Further, it would be advantageous to provide both personal computer and telephone assistance simultaneously for players experiencing difficulties or needing other assistance. Further, a need exists for a method and apparatus for an interactive computer gaming system which provides appealing and user friendly, interfaces including sound and video to the games remotely from a server.
 A remotely accessed gaming system is provided which includes a plurality of terminals including a computer having a modem connecting to a telephone network or system. A plurality of voice response units, each connecting to the telephone system for providing prompts to the terminals and responses to information entered from the terminals is also included. A local area network connects the plurality of voice response units, and a business server connects to the local area network for receiving and processing subscriber information and providing access to a gaming computer for remote gaming from the plurality of terminals.
 In other illustrative embodiments, the gaming system may include a lottery computer for playing a lottery game. The lottery computer may include memory for storing at least one set of lottery numbers to be reserved for a subscriber for a predetermined period of time such that the subscriber participates in predetermined lottery drawings for the predetermined period of time. The gaming computer may include at least one computer for playing a plurality of games. The plurality of terminals may each include a telephone for accessing the gaming computer. The business server may be accessed from the plurality of terminals via the Internet. The business server may include a memory for storing account and subscriber information. The gaming computer may send audio signals to the plurality of terminals which are converted to sound by a sound card and speaker system within the computer. The business server may maintain a subscriber account balance which is debited when a wager is placed and credited if winnings are realized. The subscriber account may be credited from a credit card account.
 A method of playing games remotely includes the steps of providing a remotely accessed gaming system which includes a plurality of terminals including a computer having a modem connecting to a telephone system, a plurality of voice response units, each for connecting to the telephone system for providing prompts to the terminals and responses to information entered from the terminals, a local area network connecting to the plurality of voice response units, and a business server connecting to the local area network for receiving and processing subscriber information and providing access to a gaming computer for remote gaming from the plurality of terminals. Also included are the steps of receiving entry data entered by a subscriber from the plurality of terminals, accessing the gaming computer through the business server and interacting with the gaming computer to play a game.
 In other illustrative methods, the plurality of terminals includes a telephone for interacting with the gaming computer and the business server. The step of receiving entry data may further include entering a personal identification number and an account number from the plurality of terminals and selecting an option from a group of options from the plurality of terminals. The step of selecting an option may further include selecting a play option from a group of options from the plurality of terminals, selecting a game from a group of games from the plurality of terminals and entering gaming information from the plurality of terminals. The step of selecting an option may further include selecting an account balance option from a group of options from the plurality of terminals and entering account information from the plurality of terminals. The game may be a lottery drawing and the step of selecting an option may include selecting a ticket confirmation option from a group of options from the plurality of terminals and entering ticket information from the plurality of terminals to receive a ticket confirmation.
 In still other methods, the step of accessing the business server may include accessing a memory of the business server to debit or credit a subscriber account having a balance, debiting the subscriber account by participating in a game and crediting the subscriber account if winnings are realized. The step of debiting a subscriber credit card account to credit the subscriber account may be included. The game may be a lottery and the step of interacting with the gaming computer to play a game may include entering a number of lottery games from the plurality of terminals, entering an appropriate number of number selections for each lottery game, confirming the number selections and debiting a subscriber account for the cost of participation. The number selection may be selected by the gaming computer. The lottery may be an instant lottery and may include the steps of comparing the number selections to a set of lottery drawn numbers, notifying a subscriber if winnings are realized and crediting the subscriber account with the winnings. The step of notifying a subscriber if winnings are realized may also be included.
 A remotely accessed lottery system in accordance with the present invention includes at least one gaming location including a plurality of terminals, each terminal including a display and an input device, the terminals being connected on a local area network. A dedicated transmission link is coupled to the local area network. A central station is remotely disposed relative to the at least one gaming location, the central station coupled to the local area network by the dedicated transmission link. The central station further includes at least one computer for generating tickets to be sent to the terminals pursuant to requests by players to participate, wherein the tickets are digitally rendered on a display of the terminals and have outcomes predetermined at the central station prior to the request for purchase and also includes means for updating player accounts responsive to requests for participation and winning results as determined at the central station.
 In still other illustrative embodiments of the remotely accessed lottery system, the terminals may include a printer device for providing a printout of tickets displayed on the display. The dedicated link may include a wide area network. The terminals are preferably arranged in a kiosk at the gaming location. The tickets preferably include obscured regions having a result invisible to the player wherein the player indicates obscured regions to be revealed thereby revealing a winning or a losing ticket. The terminal may include a mouse input device for controlling a location of an on-screen cursor, the mouse input device for indicating by the player which obscured regions to reveal. The display may be a touch screen display and the obscured regions may be revealed by the player touching the obscured regions to be revealed. The central station may further include means for accessing a state sponsored lottery computer for providing state sponsored lottery games to players.
 A remotely accessed lottery system for playing virtual scratch off games includes at least one gaming location including a plurality of terminals, each terminal including a display and an input device, the terminals preferably being connected on a local area network. The input device includes a card reader for reading an identification card having memory storage thereon. The card has identification information, account balance information and statistical information stored thereon. A dedicated transmission link is coupled to the local area network. A central station is remotely disposed relative to the at least one gaming location. The central station is coupled to the local area network by the dedicated transmission link. The central station further includes at least one computer for generating tickets to be sent to the terminals pursuant to requests by players to participate, wherein the tickets are digitally rendered on a display of the terminals and have outcomes predetermined at the central station prior to the request for purchase. Also included is a means for updating player accounts responsive to requests for participation and winning results as determined at the central station, updates determined at the central station being transmitted and stored on the card.
 In still other illustrative embodiments of the remotely accessed lottery system, the terminals may include a printer device for providing a printout of tickets displayed on the display. The dedicated link may include a wide area network. The terminals are preferably arranged in a kiosk at the gaming location. The tickets preferably include obscured regions having a result invisible to the player wherein the player selects obscured regions to be revealed, and upon such selection, the system includes means for revealing a winning or a losing ticket. The terminal may include a mouse input device for controlling a location of an on-screen cursor, the mouse input device for indicating or selecting, by the player, which obscured regions to reveal. The display may be a touch screen display and the obscured regions may be revealed by the player touching the obscured regions to be revealed. The central station may further include means for accessing a state sponsored lottery computer for providing state sponsored lottery games to players. The card preferably includes a magnetic strip for memory storage.
 Also provided is a method for playing a scratch off lottery game with virtual tickets which includes the steps of providing terminals, each having a display and an input device, the terminals being linked to a remotely disposed central station by a dedicated link, generating tickets at the central station prior to player requests for tickets such that winning tickets are predetermined at the central station prior to player participation, transmitting tickets to be displayed on the displays, the tickets having obscured regions for obscuring ticket information regarding winning status and revealing obscured regions on the tickets by a player to determine if the player has a winning ticket.
 In other useful methods, the step of revealing obscured regions may include providing a mouse input device for controlling a location of an on-screen cursor, the mouse input device for indicating by the player which obscured regions to reveal. The display may be a touch screen display and the method may further include the step of touching the display by the player to indicate the obscured regions to be revealed. The step of accessing the central station by inserting a card into the input device, the card including personal information, account balance information and statistical information about the player may also be included.
 This disclosure will present in detail the following description of preferred embodiments with reference to the following figures wherein:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a gaming system in accordance with the following detailed description;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing a portion of the gaming system of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a call flow chart showing a main menu;
FIG. 4 is a call flow chart showing a play menu;
FIG. 5 is a call flow chart showing a main menu for an instant lottery 6 game;
FIG. 6 is a call flow chart showing a number selection process for the instant lottery 6 game;
FIG. 7 is a call flow chart showing a number draw process for the instant lottery 6 game;
FIG. 8 is a call flow chart showing continue options for the instant lottery 6 game;
FIG. 9 is a call flow chart showing a main menu for a draw 6 game;
FIG. 10 is a call flow chart showing an auto number selection process for a draw 6 game;
FIG. 11 is a call flow chart showing continue options for the draw 6 game;
FIG. 12 is a call flow chart showing an instructions for games menu;
FIG. 13 is a call flow chart showing an account information menu;
1. FIG. 14 is a call flow chart showing a ticket confirmation menu;
FIG. 15 is a schematic/flow chart showing a remote lottery system according to the present invention;
FIG. 16 is an illustration of a player/game report provided by the present invention;
FIG. 17 is a schematic diagram of a terminal in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 18 is a illustrative schematic of a display of a virtual scratch off ticket in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 19 is a schematic diagram of a remote terminal, such as an automatic teller machine or a vending machine, for use with the present invention;
FIG. 20 is an illustrative ticket/printout form the terminals of the present invention; and
FIGS. 21A and 21B are a front and back view of an identification card for use with the present invention.
 The present disclosure describes gaming systems and more particularly, a personal computer and telephone interactive system with voice response and method. A gaming system includes a plurality of player terminals remotely located from a host computer or a business server. Each terminal may include a telephone or a personal computer which connects to a central office and thereby interfaces to the Internet or a plurality of voice response units. The gaming system provides the players remotely located with real time casino gaming or access to a lottery data base for playing selected numbers. The system includes voice response units for providing audio messages to telephones. The system also provides audio signals generated by the business server or a game server via the Internet during game play to run “wav” files at the users PC to provide real time audio. The VRUs are connected to a Local Area Network (LAN) to better handle high volume use of the gaming system.
 Referring now in specific detail to the drawings in which like reference numerals identify similar or identical elements throughout the several views, and initially to FIG. 1, a block diagram showing a gaming system 10. A personal computer (PC) 12 and/or a telephone 14 are used by a customer, subscriber or user to interface with gaming system 10. PC 12 and telephone 14 are referred to collectively or individually herein as a subscriber terminal or terminal 16. In operation, a plurality of terminals 16 gain access to gaming system 10 simultaneously. Both PC 12 and telephone 14 for each terminal 16 are connected to a central office 20 of a local telephone company where a local loop to which terminals 16 are connected is switched and routed by known methods. Central office 20 connects terminals 16 to either a web server 26 or a plurality of voice response units 30 depending on the media used and the service requested by the user, subscriber or customer.
 Referring to FIG. 2, it is important to note that VRUs 30 are connected directly to central office 20, and a local area network (LAN) 50 is used to connect the VRUs 30 to a gaming portion 32 of gaming system 10. By connecting LAN 50 behind VRUs 30 instead of connecting a private branch exchange (PBX) 24 in front of VRUs 30, the number of connection ports and therefore the amount of hardware needed for processing assistance requests is greatly reduced. For example, having PBX 24 connect in front of a 5000 port VRU 30 would require PBX 24 to have 10000 ports. Instead, with LAN 50 behind VRUs 30, only 100 ports (lines) are needed. PBX 24 may be separately connected between central office 20 and a live agent 23 to provide a live attendant to a customer who needs assistance. The operation for live assistance requests will be described further below.
 LAN 52 provides control signals to VRUs 30 from business server 34 or gaming servers 38, 40, 42 or 44. VRUs 30 receive subscriber entered data from a telephone keypad, for example, in the form of DTMF tones, and send converted signals to business server 34 or gaming servers 38, 40, 42 or 44. VRUs 30 respond to the subscriber entered data from a telephone with audio responses which are sent over the telephone system and heard by telephone speaker. If a PC is used audio signals are sent via the Internet to run “wav” files preloaded on PC 12 and converted to sound by a PC sound card and speaker.
 VRUs 30 include at least one computer box connected together to business server 34 or gaming servers 38, 40, 42 or 44 via LAN 52. VRUs 30 send a command set over LAN 52 to business server 34 or gaming computers 38, 40 ,42 or 44 which identify and prompt recordings that each VRU 30 should play in response to the user responses and requests. LAN 52 coordinates VRUs 30 to provide correct audio prompts and responses to the user at terminal 16.
 Referring again to FIG. 1, gaming portion 32 is linked to a web server 26 and VRUs 30. A fire wall computer 19 may be used to restrict access to gaming portion 32. A personal identification code will be required to be entered by the customer from terminal 16 to gain access. Gaming portion 32 includes a plurality of game servers. Game servers include a lottery computer 38, a Bingo computer 40, a Pick 3 computer 42, or a computer(s) 44 for other games. Other games may include casino games such as black jack, poker, horse betting, roulette, slot machines etc. Also included in gaming portion 32 is at least one business server 34 for retrieving and processing information stored in a memory storage device 36. Memory storage device 36 stores account balance information for each customer, customer subscription information, customer credit account information, etc.
 An accounting server 54 may also be included to calculate debits and credits for customers seeking account information and to provide debits and credits during gaming. Business server 34 or accounting server 54 are linked to a banking server 46. Banking server 46 processes requests for additional credit and debits customers accounts according to charges or subscriptions incurred. Banking server 46 can link by, for example modem, to a lending institution or credit card company to verify account information and to debit customer accounts for charges incurred.
 The operation of gaming system is described now in further detail with reference to FIGS. 3-14. The system will be described primarily for use with a telephone, however the call flow is applicable to a PC as well. After dialing into gaming system 10 from terminal 16, a subscriber is introduced to a main menu. The subscriber is welcomed by a prerecorded greeting from VRU 30 (FIGS. 1 and 2) in function block 102. In block 104, the subscriber is prompted to enter an account number, for example, a nine digit number or if the subscriber wants to open a new account, the subscriber is prompted to take an alternate action, for example, press 0. If a new account is selected, function block 106 directs the subscriber to a live attendant, for example a customer service representative. VRU 30 requests a tone via PBX 24 from central office 20 (FIG. 1) and a call is placed to the live attendant (customer service). If an account number is entered in block 104, the account number is checked for validity in block 108. If the account number is not valid, the subscriber is informed in block 110 that the number is not valid and VRU 30 requests that the subscriber try again. The subscriber is returned to block 104 to reenter the account number.
 If the account number is valid, the subscriber is granted access to the main menu from block 112 which can be accessed from anywhere in the sequence by entering a code, for example an asterisk (*) from the telephone keypad or typed from a PC. The subscriber may also exit from the main menu by entering another key or keys, for example an asterisk (*) from the telephone keypad or typed from a PC. The subscriber can now choose between beginning to play (1) in block 114, adding money or credits to their account (2) in block 116 or receiving ticket number confirmation (3) for lottery games in block 118. If exit (*) is chosen in block 112, a message from VRU 30 is played thanking the subscriber for their patronage and disconnecting the subscriber from gaming system 10.
 If the subscriber selects the play option in block 114, a play menu illustrated in FIG. 4 is accessed. The play menu shows by example two options. It is contemplated that other games may be played in the same manner as described herein using the same menu driven sequence. In block 202, the subscriber selects between for example a instant lottery 6 in block 204 or draw 6 game in block 206 by entering or pressing the appropriate key as instructed by a system prompt which may be audio (or visual for a PC). The selection choices may also include an option for game instructions as in block 208. A menu for each individual selection provides access to sub-menus.
 Referring to FIG. 5, if instant lottery 6 is selected in block 204, the subscriber is welcomed to Instant Lottery 6 in block 302. The subscriber may return to the main menu by entering an asterisk (*) for example. Otherwise the subscriber is updated in block 304 on the number of credits or the amount of money available in the subscriber's account. In block 306, subscriber is given a charge rate for playing a game, minimum bets maximum payoffs or other pertinent information related to the current game. The subscriber is prompted by gaming system 10 to enter the number of games the subscriber wishes to play.
 Requests for other information may be required in block 308 for example the form in which the winnings may be taken, i.e. cash or credit, payments or lump sum, etc. In block 310 and 314, the requested amount of tickets or the amount of the wager is tested to determine if “house” limits are exceeded or to determine if the subscriber entered data is valid. If the criteria is met, for example in blocks 310 and 314, the subscriber is informed of the problem in blocks 312 and 316, and the subscriber is returned to block 308 to reenter new information in compliance with the restrictions or to correct an error. If the information entered by the uses is valid and within acceptable limits, the subscriber is informed of their bet, given pertinent details related thereto and given an account balance in block 318. The subscriber is also given an opportunity to correct errors if the information is incorrect as given in block 318. The subscriber may choose to return back to block 308 to correct any errors.
 Referring to FIG. 6, after block 318, the subscriber is informed of the game number prior to selecting the numbers for the lottery game in block 320. Subscriber is informed in block 322 as to any limitations, for example the number range, of the numbers to be selected. Numbers may be selected automatically for the subscriber by entering a pound sign (#), for example. If the pound sign (#) is selected, the subscriber is given each number one at a time in blocks 324 and 326. When all the numbers have been automatically selected, the subscriber is directed to block 340, informed again of the numbers selected and allowed to verify the numbers selected. If the subscriber chooses to pick their own numbers, the gaming system 10 verifies that the numbers selected are not duplicates in block 328. If the number selected is a duplicate of a prior number, the subscriber is informed in block 330 and returned to block 322 to reenter a number. If the number is not a duplicate, the subscriber is asked to verify the number in block 332. The number selected is then tested for validity in block 334, for example the number selected is out of range, as shown in block 336. In block 338, the subscriber is looped back to block 332 and through the number selection process until all the numbers for all the games have been selected. Then the numbers for each game are verified by the subscriber in block 340.
 Referring now to FIG. 7, the gaming system 10 draws numbers and reports the numbers to the subscriber in block 344. The gaming system 10 compares the results to the numbers selected by the subscriber in block 346. If matches are made between the numbers, block 348 directs the subscriber to block 350 and is informed of the subscriber's winnings. Each game played is looped through this sequence and the total winnings are reported to the subscriber in block 354. Referring to FIG. 8, the subscriber is prompted with continue options in block 356. A selection may now be made to continue to play the present game in block 358, select a different game in block 360 or return to the main menu in block 362.
 If the draw 6 option is chosen in FIG. 4, the subscriber accesses the draw 6 menu. The subscriber may now run through the draw 6 menu which is substantially as described herein above for FIGS. 5-8. The draw 6 menu is illustrated in FIGS. 9-11. The draw 6 game is not an instant game so immediate winnings are not calculated therefore the menu of FIG. 7 is not required for draw 6 and is therefore eliminated and replaced with block 442 a in FIG. 10. Block 442 a gives the subscriber ticket numbers for each draw 6 game. The subscriber is notified of any winnings by either a phone call or an email message sent to the subscriber's terminal 16.
 Referring back to FIG. 4 and then to FIG. 12, the subscriber selection for game instructions in block 208 transfers the subscriber to a game instruction menu (FIG. 12). The subscriber is prompted to select a game from a list of choices in block 502. After selecting a game the subscriber listens to instructions on how to play that game as in blocks 506 and 510. When finished, the subscriber is returned to the play menu (FIG. 4).
 Referring back to FIG. 3 and then to FIG. 13, from the selection of block 116 account balances are made available to the subscriber. The gaming system disclosed herein may be incorporated and used with the banking system described in detail in a related application “INTERACTIVE BANKING SYSTEM”, (attorney docket no. 438-71) filed concurrently with the present application. The disclosure of that application (438-71) is incorporated by reference herein. Block 602 updates the subscriber's account balance and prompts the subscriber to make a selection to either add credits or money to the account balance or to exit back to the main menu. In block 604, the subscriber is told which credit card or line of credit will be charged to increase the account balance. In blocks 606, an amount is entered by the subscriber (block 606), verified (block 608) and the credit limit checked (block 610). If the credit limit is exceeded, the subscriber is informed of this fact in block 612 and returned back to block 606. If the credit limit is not exceeded the subscriber is updated on the new account balance in block 614 and returned to block 112 of the main menu (FIG. 3).
 Referring back to FIG. 3 and then to FIG. 14, from the selection of block 118 ticket numbers may be confirmed by the subscriber. For example, prior to a periodic drawing of a lottery number for draw 6, a subscriber may want to verify the number selection made previously. The subscriber is prompted to have the ticket numbers ready in block 702. The subscriber is then prompted to enter the ticket numbers in block 704. The ticket numbers are verified in block 706, and in block 708 the subscriber is informed of the invalidity of a ticket number. The subscriber is returned to block 704 block 708. If the ticket number entered is valid the list of numbers for that game is announced to the subscriber in block 710. The subscriber may then select to verify other ticket numbers or be returned to block 112 of the main menu (FIG. 3).
 Although the previous examples describe two versions of a lottery game, other games of chance are contemplated with slight variations to the above described call flow. For example, a black jack game can prompt a subscriber to enter an amount to bet, ask whether the subscriber wants a “hit”, double down etc.
 An exclusive-number type lottery is also contemplated. A subscriber subscribes to a number or a series of numbers to enter into a lottery, for example. A set of numbers is selected by the subscriber. The set may be made exclusive to the subscriber, i.e., only a single subscriber can have the set of numbers selected and reserved by gaming system 10. These numbers are stored in memory for each subscriber. In this way, a lottery game that selects a reserved number can have only one winner. This is guaranteed by gaming system 10. The exclusive-number type lottery may be played for a predetermined time, e.g. for 6 months, 1 year, 10 years, etc. Preferably, the lottery is a lifetime exclusive lottery. When a subscriber decides to join the lifetime lottery, the subscriber is prompted to enter a set of numbers. After entering the set of numbers the gaming system 10 determines if the entered number set is already taken. If so, the number set is rejected and the subscriber is prompted again to enter a new set of numbers. The gaming system 10 plays those numbers in subscriber selected drawings until the subscription is terminated by the subscriber. The subscriber's credit account is debited each time a lottery drawing in which the subscriber is entered is performed. In the event that the subscriber wins, the subscriber is automatically notified by the gaming system by either telephone of email or both.
 The system can provide real-time audio response to the gaming events for example, call out the lottery numbers as they are drawn and announce jackpot winnings. PC 18 requires a sound card and a speaker system in order to reproduce audio crated by preloaded “wav” files when signals are sent via the Internet to PC 12 to run the “wav” files.
 Referring again to FIG. 1, responses and prompts given by gaming system 10 to the subscriber are audio signals from VRUs 30 as well as menus visible on a monitor of PC 12. Various VRUs 30 are selected to respond at various times during the call flow as described above in FIGS. 3-14 above. A subscriber of a PC 12 will be able to hear real-time audio messages created on PC 12 as prompted by signals sent via the Internet over LAN 52 from business server 34 or gaming server 38, 40, 42 or 44.
 It is further contemplated that the gaming system 10 is usable through either PC 12 or telephone 14 or a combination of both. Although encryption over the Internet is more readily available, subscribers may feel uncomfortable disclosing credit card numbers or other personal data over the Internet. A telephone can be used instead to access the gaming system to provide sensitive subscriber information. Also, it may be necessary to receive online help from a live attendant. VRU 30 can be activated to alert and call the live attendant. A code, for example 0, can be entered to alert VRUs 30. VRUs 30 send a switch hook flash to central office 20 to request a dial tone. When the dial tone is received VRU 30 is terminated and the call is redirected to central office 20 and is answered by PBX 24. A recording is played for the subscriber. The subscriber can now select an action from a menu which includes the live attendant.
 Referring to FIG. 15, another gaming system 200 is shown. A plurality of lottery terminals 202 or PCs 238 are remotely located from a central station 212. Lottery terminals 202 may be located at a gaming hall or other remote location where lottery-type games may be played. Lottery terminals 202 include an input device and a video display. Lottery terminals preferably include a printer device for printing out tickets to memorialize a player's gaming history or as proof of winnings. Lottery terminals 202 may be arranged in a kiosk 204 for providing player stations to a plurality of players simultaneously. PC 238 also provides access to central station 212 from any remote location. PC 238 includes a modem for connecting to central station 212 and appropriate software which may be downloaded from central station 212 as needed or provided on a memory storage device. PC 238 may be connected via the Internet to a fire wall computer 210 for accessing central station 212 via a dedicated link 252.
 Lottery terminals 202 preferably require an identification card 300 (FIG. 21) for enabling play by players. Players are issued cards 300 which have memory storage capability. Stored information includes the players name, identification number or password, account information such as account balances and statistical data including personal performance data, gaming history data as well as other statistics. Also, debit and credit information is stored on card 300 (FIG. 21). Card 300 may have an account balance increased by agent 230 or by using a device which accepts money directly. Lottery terminals 202 may be used to increase a credit amount on a card and automatically debit the card in response to debits incurred during game play. PC users can log in to central station 212 over Internet 250 or through a telephone connection as described with reference to FIG. 1 above.
 Terminals 202 are preferably connected by a local area network (LAN) 206. LAN 206 connects to a switch 208, for example, a 100 Base T switcher which provides switching as is known in the art. A firewall computer 210 limits access to central server 212 and may be used to access a state lottery computer 232 or other remote gaming system. Firewall computer 210 provides administrative information to an agent 230 for maintaining security of the system. Agent 230 may also assist in the administration of kiosk 204 and act as an interface to state lottery computer 232.
 Another switcher 214 interfaces with central server 212. One aspect of the present invention is that the central station 212 is remotely located. A dedicated interconnect 252 connects a plurality of kiosks 204 with central station 212. Dedicated interconnect 252 may include a wide area network (WAN). A web server 218 is provided for controlling Internet games and interfaces for PC users and for accessing a game server 220. Game server 220 is accessed directly through switcher 214 for kiosk based games. Web server 218 and game server 220 connect to a switcher 224 which interfaces to a business server 226 which functions substantially as described above with reference to FIG. 1. Switcher 224 also routes commands to a bank server 222 for debiting and crediting accounts as described above. Further, bank server 222 can access a financial institution or credit card company computer 216 as described above.
 A ticket generator 228 is provided and connects to business server 226 for providing virtual tickets to players. Ticket generator 228 generates and stores tickets according to a predetermined schedule of winning tickets. Various systems of winning ticket determination schedules may be used, for example winners may be determined based on the order in which they accessed the system. Preferably, the games offered on each of the kiosks involve games having winners predetermined upon selection by a player and no skill is needed from the player to improve on his/her chances of winning. A further advantage of each system architecture includes multiplayer play of a single or multiple games. Such game or games are processed, monitored and/or outcome predetermined from and by the server or processor in the central station.
 In a preferred embodiment, ticket generator 228 generates a plurality of tickets in an arbitrary order. As each request to purchase a ticket is received from terminals 202 or 238 a digital image is sent and reproduced at the player's terminal. The ticket has a predetermined result thereon which is obscured from player view. The player than uses a cursor to indicate regions to be revealed or uses the cursor, a finger or other object to unobscure the predetermined result. Each terminal 202 accesses a printer for printing out tickets if desired. Further, as shown in FIG. 16, a player report 400 can be generated to a screen or printed out by the printer. The player report may include, among other things, player statistics, game reports including player account balances and play by play game information. Advantageously, the system according to the illustrative embodiment of the present invention facilitates lottery-type game play with which the software including gaming programs and algorithms, accounting and bookkeeping programs, etc. can be totally resident at the control station. Accordingly, game software need not be resident at the lottery terminals.
 Referring to FIG. 17, a schematic diagram is shown for terminal 202. Terminal 202 includes a processor 262 for generating graphics on a display 260. Processor 262 includes software in memory 264 for processing input commands from input devices. Input devices may include any one or a combination of an object 266, a mouse 268, a card/reader 270 and/or a keypad 272. Object 266 may include a players finger or other device for indicating obscured regions 242 (FIG. 18) to be revealed if a touch screen display is employed for display 260. Mouse 268 may be used to control an on-screen cursor for selecting various options presented to the player, for example indicating obscured regions 242 to be revealed or to initiate a print command, etc. Card/reader input 270 includes an insertion slot for a user or player card (card 300, see FIGS. 21A and 21B). Data stored on the card is input and transmitted to central station 212 for processing. Keypad 272 is used to enter alphanumeric data and/or execute commands, etc. as is known in the art.
 As shown FIG. 19, lottery terminals 202 may include a conveniently located terminal 348 such as a vending machine or an automated teller machine (ATM) for implementing lottery-type games in accordance with the present invention. Interaction with central station 212 occurs through a dedicated link. Input keypad 350 or touch screen display 352 located at terminals 348 are used to interact with the system of the present invention. Terminal 348 preferably include a printer 354 for printing game reports/player reports 356 as described above, and a card reader/writer 358 is provided. Terminals 348 can advantageously provide the features for playing lottery type games remotely from the central station as described above. Further, as shown in FIG. 20, a lottery ticket/record 360 may be printed out as proof of winning or to provide a record of the transaction.
 Referring to FIG. 18, the present invention provides virtual scratch off games which are played on a video display 240 of terminals 202, 238 or 348. An illustrative game is shown to explain aspects of the present invention. Obscured regions 242 are provided to terminal 202 by central station 212. Obscured regions 242 obscure a symbol or result of a lottery game. Obscured regions 242 may be selected by the player to reveal a result for that ticket. In one embodiment, the result is dependent on which obscured regions are selected, for example a symbol or prize is won if a pair or more of symbols are unobscured prior to unobscuring a predetermined number of regions 242. For example, if three symbols are the same and six unobscured regions are presented, a winner may be determined based on unobscuring the three symbols in say, 4 attempts (one attempt equaling unobscuring one region). State sponsored scratch-off games may be implemented in a virtual scratch-off game in accordance with the present invention. Predetermined odds and a number of winners are determined prior to play at central station 212. The display of terminals 202 may be a touch screen display which permits virtual scratching off of obscured regions 242.
 Players may participate in a lottery game, either a state sponsored game as accessed through a lottery computer 232 (FIG. 15) or a non-state sponsored lottery game. Players select numbers at terminals. The numbers are transmitted to game server 220 for storage. In a non-state sponsored lottery drawing, an instant drawing may be held and the results transmitted directly to terminals. Drawings may be provided by central station 212 for individual terminals, for a given kiosk, to a specific locale or to all players.
 Referring to FIGS. 21A and 21B, a front (FIG. 21A) and back (FIG. 21B) of an identification card 300 is shown. Identification card includes at least one magnetic strip 302 for storing player identification information, player statistics, account information and balances or other pertinent information. Magnetic strip 302 is read at terminal 202 by a magnetic strip reader, for example a three track magnetic strip reader. Card 300 also provides a signature region 304 and a display region 306 which may include written identification information or graphic information, such as a photograph. Terminals 202 provide access to central station by inserting card 300 therein. Other access methods may also be provided, such as password access during log on.
 Having described preferred embodiments of a novel interactive computer gaming system (which are intended to be illustrative and not limiting), it is noted that modifications and variations can be made by persons skilled in the art in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that changes may be made in the particular embodiments of the invention disclosed which are within the scope and spirit of the invention as outlined by the appended claims. Having thus described the invention with the details and particularity required by the patent laws, what is claimed and desired protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||463/41, 463/17, 463/16, 463/22, 463/42|
|International Classification||A63F3/08, G07F17/32|
|Cooperative Classification||G07F17/32, A63F3/081, G07F17/3251|
|European Classification||G07F17/32, G07F17/32K6, A63F3/08E|
|8 Sep 1998||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: UNISTAR ENTERTAINMENT, INC., CONNECTICUT
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:YACENDA, MICHAEL W.;REEL/FRAME:009450/0384
Effective date: 19980807