US 20010041609 A1
In a gaming device of the type that utilizes multiple rotatable wheels or a video display to present a random combination of predetermined symbols and which issues a “win” indication or payout whenever one of several predetermined winning combinations of symbols is obtained, the provision of advertising messages which can be utilized in substitution for or in combination with the conventional symbols and the payout can be determined by a combination of the conventional symbols with the advertising messages or other messages alone.
1. In a gaming device of the type having means for generating a random combination of symbols, means defining a plurality of winning combinations of symbols, and means responsive to said random combination generating means and to said winning combination defining means for providing an indication of a win whenever the generated random combination corresponds to one of said winning combinations, the improvement comprising:
means for generating a plurality of advertising messages; and
means for displaying said advertising messages, said advertising messages being displayable with one another or in conjunction with one or more of said symbols.
2. The gaming device of claim 1
3. The gaming device of claim 1
4. In a gaming device for generating a random combination of symbols, means defining a plurality of winning combinations of symbols and means responsive to said random combination generating means and to said winning combination defining means for providing an indication of a win whenever the generated random combination corresponds to one of said winning combinations, the improvement comprising:
a plurality of advertising messages displayable on said gaming device;
means for defining a plurality of winning combinations of messages; and
means responsive to said random combination-generating means and to said winning combination-defining means for providing an indication of a win whenever the generated random combination of messages corresponds to one of said winning combinations.
5. The gaming device of claim 1
6. The devices of claims 4 or 5 incorporating means for sequential display of said advertising messages to the exclusion of said symbols.
7. In a method of operating a slot machine incorporating arbitrary symbols and advertising messages displayed on said machine, the steps of:
presenting a plurality of arbitrary, conventional symbols;
presenting a plurality of advertising messages; and,
simultaneously, energizing said symbols and said messages to produce a winning combination of said symbols and said messages.
8. The method of claim 7
9. The method of claim 7
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/077,039, filed Mar. 6, 1998.
 This invention relates to gaming devices which generate random combinations of symbols and provide a “win” indication if the random combination generated corresponds to one of a plurality of pre-determined winning combinations, and, more particularly, to a gaming device of the aforementioned character wherein advertising messages are interspersed between the symbols. In other words, instead of a random combination of symbols, the gaming device will display advertising related to products, services, or the like.
 The gaming devices under consideration here are commonly known as slot machines and can be broadly divided into two classes: namely, electro-mechanical devices which are energized by an elongated arm and video devices which are energized by pressing one or more buttons on the housing of the device. In the electro-mechanical device, the aforementioned symbols are displayed on a plurality of wheels whereas, in the video device, the spinning of the wheels is simulated by the video circuitry.
 Long habituation has resulted in the use of conventional symbols such as various types of fruits or numerals. The present invention will be disclosed as utilized in a video slot machine, but it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that the invention can be applied to mechanical or electro-mechanical slot machines.
 As is well known to those skilled in the art, a video slot machine has a display screen on which a simulation of three spinning wheels of the slot machine is presented. Each simulated wheel incorporates a plurality of game elements such as a “cherry”, an “orange”, a “BAR” or the like. The appearance of the various symbols on the respective simulated wheels is determined by electronic circuitry which is commonly controlled by an electronic micro-processor.
 An object of the present invention is to substitute a pre-determined number of the conventional symbols with advertising materials so that, during dwell time of the machine, the advertising messages will be automatically displayed to an individual utilizing the machine. For instance, various products, such as soft drinks, cigarettes, or the like can be the subject of the advertising messages and the trademarks of the products can appear on each of the three video wheels of the machine.
 Another object of the invention is the provision of advertising symbology on the wheels of a slot machine wherein the advertising symbology is integrated into the “win” circuitry of the machine so that one or more or all of the advertising symbology on the wheels of the machine can provide a pay-out in accordance with the pre-determined operational adjustment of the machine's circuitry.
 For instance, an advertising symbol appearing on one wheel in conjunction with conventional symbology, such as cherries or bells on the other two wheels can materially increase the pay-out to the player, thus engendering goodwill for the advertiser on the machine.
 In addition, the appearance of the advertising symbology on all three wheels can result in a major pay-out of substantial sums of money to the player. In this manner, the goodwill engendered by the pay-outs associated with the advertising symbology materially reinforces the advertising message which is displayed on the wheels of the machine.
FIG. 1 is a view showing one embodiment of a slot machine which can be modified to display advertising messages on the video wheels thereof; and
FIG. 2 illustrates the manner in which advertisements on the respective wheels of the machine can be interspersed with conventional symbols.
 Referring to the drawings, and particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, I show a video-type slot machine 10 incorporated in a housing 12 and having a plurality of control buttons 14, 16, 18, 20, and 22 to control the video wheel display bank 30.
 A slot 32 is provided for the reception of coins to initiate the operation of the machine 10 and a delivery bin 34 is provided for the pay-outs.
 Conventionally, three wheels 40 are provided in the bank 30 and are energized in various combinations determined by the utilization of the control buttons 14, 16, 18, 20, and 22.
 Normally, when the bank 30 is operated, the wheels 40 will be spun simultaneously and the spinning action of the individual wheels will terminate seriatim, that is, the first second and third wheels 40 stop one after the other.
 As previously mentioned, the pay-outs are determined by the proprietor of the machines and are frequently displayed on the machine as at 42. Therefore, a player is made aware of what the individual pay-outs will be.
 The operation of such machines is normally controlled by a micro-processor which generates signals that determine the number of increments each of the respective reels or wheels 40 will be advanced. Winning combinations include those corresponding to the unalterable symbology on the reels, such as the bell, plum, melon, star, etc. previously discussed. In the present machine, the video circuitry has been modified to provide for the wheels 40 showing various advertising messages as represented by the word “AD” shown on the wheels 40 of FIG. 1. Alternatively, the winning combinations shown on the charts 42 will be modified to indicate the advertising combinations which will provide for a pay-out to the player.
 For instance, the combination of all three wheels 40 having advertising messages thereupon, as shown in FIG. 1 of the drawings, will result in one of the larger or, perhaps, the largest pay-out made by the machine. Other pay-outs made by the machine can include the presence of advertisements on one or two wheels in conjunction with the conventional symbology.
 In these instances, for instance, the presence of one AD wheel 40 in conjunction with two conventional symbols can increase the pay-out above the amount which would normally be paid if all three symbols were present. Similarly, if two AD wheels are displayed in conjunction with a conventional symbol, a greater amount will be paid Thus, the products advertised will be associated in a the mind of a player with greater goodwill than that obtained by mere display in magazine, television, or other types of advertising.
 The chart 60 of FIG. 2 is an illustration of the manner in which the advertising message can be displayed in conjunction with the conventional symbols. For instance, as illustrated, one, two, or three advertising messages on the wheels can display. The one and two messages can be displayed in conjunction with conventional symbols and the payout proportionately increased until the triune display of the advertising messages results in the greater pay-out.
 In addition, during the dwell time on the machine, a message is conveyed to passers-by or, initially, to a player approaching the machine for the first time. It should be noted that the principles of the invention can be applied with equal cogency to conventional mechanical or electro-mechanical slot machines, although, of course, greater flexibility of combinations is achieved with the microprocessor of the machine 10.
 It should be noted that the advertisers can confine their messages solely to the advertising function of the machine and that the gaming use of the ads is an additional aspect of the invention.