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METHOD, APPARATUS AND GAMING SET
FOR USE IN A PROGRESSIVE GAME
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/898,553, filed Jul. 22,1997 now U.S. Pat. No. 5,944,606.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to gaming. More particularly, the invention relates to a method, apparatus and gaming set for use in a progressive pull-tab game.
"Pull-tab" is a game of chance, commonly played in casinos and taverns. In a pull-tab game, participants purchase pull-tab cards from a large fixed pool or set. The game ends when the entire pool of cards has been purchased. The cards in a set are marked at the time of manufacture with various patterns of symbols or indicia. The indicia on the otherwise identical cards is covered when the cards are sold so that neither the operator nor player can see the indicia before the card is purchased. A certain number of cards in each set are manufactured with a pattern of indicia indicating that they are winners. Such winning cards will have a predetermined pay-off value: $1, $5, $1,000, etc. Other cards may have zero value.
The set of cards may be stored and distributed electronically as well as in printed form. In this case, the cards are stored and distributed in a predetermined order, just as with printed cards. Likewise, certain of the electronic cards are coded as winners and losers. Until the cards are dispensed or displayed, it is not possible for a player to determine whether a particular electronic card is a winner, and, if so, its pay-off value.
The winning and losing cards are randomly mixed in the pool and externally identical. Therefore, the value of a card is not ascertainable prior to its opening or display upon purchase. Whether winner or loser, the value of each card is dependent only on the pattern of indicia printed thereon or associated therewith and therefore is predetermined at the time the cards are printed or generated. Because the number of winning cards in a set, and the value of each, is known, the operator of the game knows the total pay-out for a game in advance, as do the players.
In one variation of the standard pull-tab games, there are multiple separate indicia on or associated with each card. With these "multi-play" cards, which may have twenty plays on a single card, the player has many opportunities to win. With multiple plays on each card, each multi-play card may be a winner by including at least one winning play. The pay-off values for multi-play cards, however, are typically much smaller because of the many winning combinations. Multi-play cards may be sold at higher prices than singleplay cards.
Games of chance can be described as either progressive or non-progressive. In non-progressive games, such as traditional pull-tab, participants play for a chance to win a predetermined prize, i.e., one of the winning cards. Progressive games, in contrast, involve a jackpot or prize that grows during the play of the game. Many state numbers lotteries, for instance, fall into the progressive category because the prize increases over time as more players participate. During the operation of a progressive game, a portion of each
player's purchase is dedicated to the prize. Thus, the prize grows until the winning numbers are selected and the game ends. Some slot machines also offer a progressive jackpot. While progressive games typically offer participants
5 greater excitement and appeal because of the opportunity to win a larger prize, such games are more complex to operate. Moreover, not all games of chance lend themselves to a progressive implementation. Pull-tab, for instance, has not been amenable for implementation in a progressive game
1° because of the use of a pre-printed or pre-generated set of cards with predetermined winning amounts.
Because of the popularity of traditional slot machines, which provide the player with an immediate visual indication of the outcome of a play, it is generally desirable to offer
15 a pull-tab game which resembles a slot game. One principle way this has been achieved is by providing an automatic reader to read the cards as they are dispensed. Another way this has been achieved is by providing a separate reader to read the cards upon insertion of the cards into the reader by
20 a player. In the case of electronic tickets, the status of the card is determined when it is displayed. In any case, the resulting play can then be depicted visually on a video display in a fashion replicating the appearance of a slot machine. When this type of system is used with a multi-play
25 pull-tab card, a sequence of plays can be completed without interruption. However, because this system still uses preprinted cards or pre-generated cards with predetermined values, it has not been amenable for implementation in a
^ progressive format.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention includes a pull-tab gaming set, a progressive pull-tab gaming system and a method of oper
35 ating a progressive pull-tab game. The gaming set includes a plurality of pull-tab cards, each card having a selectively revealable gaming section. The gaming section contains indicia of a redemption value of the card which is unascertainable until the card is dispensed or displayed. There are
4Q preferably two classes of pull-tab cards or plays in the gaming set in the form of winners having indicia of a fixed non-zero value, and at least one jackpot card with indicia of an undetermined total value.
The invention also encompasses a progressive pull-tab
45 card game system including a pull-tab dispensing unit configured to dispense or display pull-tab cards, a jackpot display and a control system operatively connected to the dispensing unit to monitor the quantity of pull-tab cards dispensed. The control system is configured to compute a
5Q jackpot value dependent on the dispensing or displaying of cards and operatively connected to the jackpot display to cause it to display the computed jackpot value as pull-tab cards are dispensed or displayed.
One more aspect of the present invention is a method of
55 operating a progressive pull-tab game including the steps of providing a set of pull-tab cards which includes at least one jackpot card without a predetermined total value, setting a progressive jackpot to a predetermined value, displaying the progressive jackpot, dispensing or displaying one of the
60 pull-tab cards to a player, selectively increasing the value of the progressive jackpot, repeating the steps of displaying, dispensing and selectively increasing until the jackpot card is dispensed and then awarding the progressive jackpot to the player that received the jackpot card.
65 Many other features, advantages and additional objects of the present invention will be apparent to those versed in the art upon making reference to the detailed description which
follows and the accompanying sheets of drawings in which a preferred embodiment incorporating the principles of this invention is disclosed as an illustrative example only.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 5
FIG. la shows a backside of a pull-tab card constructed according to the present invention.
FIG. lb shows a front side of the pull-tab card of FIG. la.
FIG. lc shows the front side of the pull-tab card of FIG. 10 la, showing lifted serrated flaps.
FIG. 2 shows a pull-tab card with a scratch-off coating suitable for use in the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a pull-tab gaming set according to the present invention. 15
FIGS. 4a—b show a winning card and a jackpot card according to the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a sign for use with the present invention.
FIG. 6 is a progressive pull-tab gaming system con- 20 structed according to the present invention.
FIG. 7 shows a multi-play pull-tab card constructed according to the present invention.
FIG. 8 shows a dispensing unit according to the present invention. 25
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
A printed pull-tab card for use with the present invention ^ is shown generally at 10 in FIGS. la—c. Card 10 includes a front side 12 and a back side 14, with a selectively revealable gaming section 16 disposed on the front side. The gaming section, in the preferred embodiment, includes three serrated flaps 18 that can be lifted to reveal underlying indicia 20 of 3J the value of the card. Although serrated regions are preferred, any other suitable selectively revealable region could be used, including, among others, scratch-off coatings, such as shown in FIG. 2, or a separable two-part card, such as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,348,299 which is incorporated
herein by reference.
Pull-tab cards according to the present invention can also be implemented and dispensed electronically, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,324,035 which is incorporated herein by reference. Electronic cards or tickets are generally designed 45 to mimic the format and appearance of printed cards. Such electronic cards are typically distributed through electronic display terminals with touch-screens to allow a player to control exposure of the gaming region.
In the context of the preferred embodiment of the present 50 invention, pull-tab cards or plays, such as card 10, typically form part of a pull-tab gaming set as shown generally at 30 in FIG. 3. With electronic tickets, the set or pool is, of course, stored electronically. Card 10 also typically includes a printed gaming code 22, which is different for each set and 55 therefore can be used to distinguish cards from different sets. Set 30 preferably includes three classes of cards. The first class, which usually constitutes the majority of the cards, is losers. Losing cards, such as card 10 in FIG. lc, are those that have no redemption value. The losing cards may be go considered as having a predetermined value, even though that value is $0.
The second class of cards in set 30 is winners, which have fixed non-zero values. Winner cards include an indicia of the amount of their redemption value. For example, a card in the 65 winner class may have a value of $100, such as winner card 40 shown in FIG. 4a. Thus, a player receiving that card
could redeem it with the operator of the game for $100. In some cases a single card may have more than one set of winning indicia. For instance, the top line of symbols in FIG. 4a could represent a winning combination in addition to the second line of symbols. In the preferred embodiment, there are a number of different sub-classes within the winner class, and each sub-class has a different fixed value. In a typical set consisting of 4,000 cards selling for $1 each, there might be 100 cards in the $1 sub-class, 20 cards in the $10 sub-class, 10 cards in the $50 sub-class, 5 cards in the $100 sub-class and so on. Most commonly, there are fewer cards in the higher value sub-classes and more cards in the lower value sub-classes, although this is not essential.
The third class in set 30 is the jackpot. In the preferred embodiment, there is only one jackpot card, shown at 42 in FIG. 4b, although there could be two or more jackpot cards as desired. The jackpot card has an undetermined redemption value. Thus, until the jackpot card is received by a player, it is not possible to determine what its value will be. The value of the jackpot card is determined only during the play of the game, as will be described below. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, as will be described in more detail below, the value of the jackpot card will go up during the play of the game. It is this increasing jackpot card value that provides the progressive aspect of the present invention.
As mentioned above, each card in the set includes an indicia of its value. With printed cards, a shown in FIG. la, the back side of each card is preferably printed with a chart listing the indicia for each sub-class of winning cards as well as the jackpot class. The chart also lists the number of cards in each class and sub-class, and the value associated with each sub-class of the winning class. Any card bearing an indicia other than those listed on the chart is a loser. Thus, a player receiving a card will tear open the serrated section to reveal the gaming section and indicia printed therein. By comparing the indicia in the gaming section with those listed on the chart, the player can determine the class/sub-class of the card. For all cards other than the jackpot card, the player will also know the value of the card. The jackpot card has indicia from which the player can identify it as a jackpot card, but has an undetermined redemption value. In the case of electronic cards, the "backside" of the card can be displayed next to the front on the display screen.
A sign or poster 32, such as shown in FIG. 5, is normally provided in the general area where the cards are being dispensed to allow players to monitor what winning cards remain to be distributed. The sign includes a listing of each of the winning cards, and, as each winning card is redeemed, the operator of the game covers one of the listings for that sub-class of card, as shown at 34. Although this procedure is not required, it allows a player to glance at the sign and determine the number and type of winning cards remaining. Such a sign may also be displayed on an electronic display screen with or separate from a display of an electronic ticket.
In a variation on the pull-tab cards described above, the present invention could be implemented utilizing multi-play pull-tab cards such as shown at 10' in FIG. 7. Card 10' would typically include a front side 12', a back side 14' and a selectively revealable gaming section 16'. The gaming section is disposed beneath a serrated flap 18' that can be lifted to reveal the gaming section. The principal difference between card 10' and previously described card 10 is that card 10' includes multiple plays, rather than the single play provided by card 10. Specifically, in the version depicted, card 10' provides twenty different indicia in the form of groups 20' of nine symbols each, where each group repre