Ball selector and display device for use with gaming devices

Amusement devices: games – Including means for processing electronic data – In a chance application

Reexamination Certificate

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Details

C436S020000, C436S022000, C273S138200, C273S14400A, C273S14400A

Reexamination Certificate

active

06338678

ABSTRACT:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
The present invention relates to a ball selector and display device for use with a gaming device that selects one or more balls from a plurality of individually controlled balls and displays the selected ball.
2. Description of Related Art
Gaming devices are well known in the art and a large variety of gaming devices have been developed. In general, gaming devices allow users or players to play a game. In many casino-type gaming devices, the outcome of the game depends, at least in part, on a randomly generated event. For example, a gaming device may use a random number generator to generate a random or pseudo-random number. The random number may then be compared to a predefined table to determine the outcome of the event. If the random number falls within a certain range of numbers on the table, the player may win a predefined prize. The table may also contain display information that allows the gaming device to generate a display that corresponds to the outcome of the game. The gaming device may present the outcome of the game on a large variety of display devices, such as mechanical spinning reels or video screens.
Some gaming devices award bonuses in addition to prizes that are awarded in the primary game. A bonus can be defined as an additional prize that is awarded to the player when a predefined event occurs. An example of a bonus game can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 5,848,932 issued to Adams. One of the gaming devices described in this document comprises three spinning reels and a spinning wheel bonus display. When predetermined indicia are displayed on the spinning reels of the primary game, the wheel can be activated to indicate a bonus prize. The bonus prize is awarded in addition to any prizes awarded in the primary game.
It has been found that bonus prizes increase the excitement and enjoyment experienced by players. This attracts more players to the game and encourages players to play longer, which in turn increases the commercial success of the gaming device.
It has been found that highly visible display devices increase the excitement and enjoyment experienced by players and they tend to attract more players. It is, therefore, desirable for gaming devices to incorporate highly visible display devices. It has also been found that gaming devices are more successful if they utilize a display device that is a derivation of a well-known game or theme.
Upon an initial examination, it would appear that the display device of Keno is an excellent choice for a display device for gaming devices. Keno is well known and it utilizes a highly visible and attractive display device. The display device comprises a container with a plurality of numbered balls. The balls in the container are agitated or jumbled, usually by a jet of air, to a state where they ricochet off of the walls of the container.
However, before the present invention, the Keno display device has been unsuitable for use with gaming devices. One of the reasons it has been unsuitable is that Keno is susceptible to environmental influences. An important aspect of any gaming device is resistance to environmental influences that could affect the results of the game. In the game of Keno, players select numbers that may be drawn from a Keno display device. The Keno display device jumbles or mixes numbered Keno balls in the container and then draws a predetermined number of balls from the container. Players are paid based on the number of balls drawn from the Keno display device that match the numbers they selected. However, as the balls are jumbled in the Keno ball device, static electricity, dust, and contaminants build up on the balls. This may cause the balls to stick to each other or to components in the display device thereby influencing the randomness of the game. Furthermore, the balls used in Keno displays may have slightly different weights or sizes that subtly affects the outcome of the game.
Another reason the game of Keno has been unsuitable as an indicator for a gaming device is that it requires a great deal of human involvement. In many Keno games, human operators are required to read the numbers of the Keno balls as they are selected and input the numbers into a computer or display. Furthermore, operators must regularly clean the Keno balls and the Keno devices to keep dust and contaminants from building up on the balls. Not only does this require far too much human involvement for an automated gaming device (the greater the human involvement, the greater the cost of operating the game), the game is also susceptible to tampering and cheating.
Because of its susceptibility to environmental influences and tampering and its dependence on human operators and maintenance personnel, Keno games are not allowed in at least one major gaming jurisdiction. Furthermore, these disadvantages have prevented Keno display devices and other devices that use jumbled balls from being adapted for use with gaming devices. What has long been needed is a means for adapting jumbled ball display devices for use with gaming devices. Although reference is made to the game of Keno, it is to be understood that the present invention may be used with almost any type of ball or jumbled ball display device.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
Brief Description of the Invention
The present invention comprises a ball selector and display device for use with a gaming device. The ball selector and display device comprises a plurality of prize balls, a ball holder, a controller, a display mechanism, and a positioning mechanism. The ball holder is adapted to hold the prize balls in an individually controlled manner. The controller is adapted to select a ball in the holder and to control the positioning mechanism. The display mechanism is adapted to display the selected ball to the player. The positioning mechanism is in communication with the controller and it is adapted to position the selected ball relative to the display mechanism, whereby the display mechanism may display the selected ball. The ball selector and display device may be used with a jumbled ball display and a game apparatus.
The above description sets forth, rather broadly, the more important features of the present invention so that the detailed description of the preferred embodiment that follows may be better understood and contributions of the present invention to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described below and will form the subject matter of claims. In this respect, before explaining at least one preferred embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of the construction and to the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or as illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.


REFERENCES:
patent: 4824113 (1989-04-01), Lange
patent: 4871171 (1989-10-01), Rivero
patent: 5088737 (1992-02-01), Frank et al.
patent: 5380007 (1995-01-01), Travis et al.
patent: 5566940 (1996-10-01), Powell
patent: 5702101 (1997-12-01), Russell
patent: 5848932 (1998-12-01), Adams
Virginia Lottery: Pick 4 Prizes Could Double, Oct. 1992.

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