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Systems and methods for retail lottery-style games

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20130035149 patent thumbnailZoom

Systems and methods for retail lottery-style games


Systems and methods for retail lottery-style games are disclosed. In one particular exemplary embodiment, a map-based lottery game is established, by at least one processor, that is scheduled to have a lottery drawing, where the map-based lottery game includes a gameboard made up of a plurality of units each selectable to represent an entry in the lottery game. In addition, a plurality of game entries are received each identifying a unit on the gameboard either with an identifier of the unit or with a lottery combination corresponding to the unit and, at least one winning entry from the plurality of game entries is selected by selecting among the plurality of units on the gameboard or among the units identified by the plurality of game entries.
Related Terms: Games

Browse recent Roboreus Limited patents - London, GB
USPTO Applicaton #: #20130035149 - Class: 463 17 (USPTO) - 02/07/13 - Class 463 
Amusement Devices: Games > Including Means For Processing Electronic Data (e.g., Computer/video Game, Etc.) >In A Chance Application >Lot Match Or Lot Combination (e.g., Roulette, Lottery, Etc.)

Inventors: James Allan Oakes

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130035149, Systems and methods for retail lottery-style games.

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CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to, and is a continuation-in-part of, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/180,163, filed on Jul. 25, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The present application further claims priority to and incorporates by reference U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/522,927, filed Aug. 12, 2011.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention relate generally to games of chance. More specifically, the present invention relates to systems and methods for lottery-style games.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Lottery is a popular game of chance in which a number of players contribute to form a jackpot that is later awarded, wholly or partially, to one or more winners. The participating players pay money or contribute other things of value in exchange for lottery tickets. Typically, each lottery ticket bears a combination of numbers or other symbols, and a winning ticket has to at least partially match a randomly generated set of numbers or symbols. In a properly operated lottery game, any one of the outstanding lottery tickets could be selected in a random drawing as a winning ticket, entitling its holder to some or all of the jackpot prize.

Sweepstakes in United States may be considered one special type of lottery games which are free to enter and are typically sponsored by merchants for promotional marketing purposes. In United Kingdom, a sweepstake is technically a lottery game in which the prize is financed through the tickets sold. Small-scale sweepstakes among private parties (e.g., colleagues and classmates) may also be considered lottery games which are often related to ongoing sports events.

Lottery games come in different formats. For example, the jackpot of a lottery game may be either a fixed cash amount or a certain percentage of ticket revenue. The combination of numbers on each lottery ticket could be a unique one, or each player may be allowed to select his or her own lucky numbers, making it possible for multiple tickets to share a same combination. Lottery games can be played either online or offline. The most popular lottery games, such as Powerball™, Mega Millions™, and Euro Millions™, are mostly paper-based, requiring the purchase of actual tickets, although some are now starting to open to online participants. A few lottery games can be played completely online. That is, instead of purchasing a paper ticket and filling in desired numbers with a pencil, an online player can purchase an electronic (or virtual) lottery ticket and select a desired combination via a web interface such as an Internet browser.

In all traditional lottery games, lottery tickets are sold in predetermined, fixed denominations, for example, one dollar per ticket. Accordingly, one winning ticket will entitle its holder to an entire unit of a corresponding winning prize. Proportional value lottery games have been proposed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,296,569 and 7,351,142, but none appears to have been commercially implemented. Both of those patents describe the issuance of proportional denomination lottery tickets, online or at a point of sale (POS). For example, in any transaction involving change under a dollar, the change can be converted to a proportional denomination share of a full-unit (one-dollar) lottery ticket. If the full-unit lottery ticket is qualified for a prize, the holder of the proportional denomination ticket will be entitled to a fraction of the prize. For instance, if a one-dollar ticket matching all the winning numbers would entitle its holder to a jackpot amount, then a 25-cent proportional ticket entitles its holder to 25% of the jackpot.

All the existing types of lottery games appear to share a few common characteristics. First, they all have to issue some kind of lottery tickets, whether paper or electronic, full-denomination or proportional. The purposes for issuing lottery tickets are two-fold. The tickets bear numerical combinations or patterns to be compared to the randomly generated winning combination or pattern. The tickets also serve as proof of participation in the lottery games. However, the entire mechanism of generating, drawing, and matching tickets could impose significant overhead costs on the operation of lottery games.

Second, participation in traditional lottery games depends heavily on player impulse or enthusiasm, which causes ticket revenue to fluctuate. Except for a handful of gambling fanatics, most people only purchase lottery tickets occasionally. A loss in one game might cause an ordinary player to stop playing for a while. Also, public sentiment towards a lottery game often varies with the amount of jackpot prize available at the time. There seems to be a general belief that a one-dollar ticket somehow has a better chance of winning when the jackpot reaches several million dollars or more. Therefore, when the total jackpot snowballs into an unusually large amount, the public often become increasingly interested in the game. Once the jackpot is won, a period of stagnation typically follows the news-generating big win. For all these reasons, ticket revenues from traditional lottery games tend to swing with time and seldom generate a steady cash flow.

Third, players in a traditional lottery game have no direct or perceivable incentive for bringing more players into the game. Theoretically, an existing player may be indirectly benefited if more players join the lottery game, because the increased participation will increase the size of jackpot the existing player could potentially win. However, that potential benefit may not be tangible enough to encourage referrals of additional players. In addition, the existing player\'s chance of winning does not increase with the number of new players.

Furthermore, traditional lottery games including sweepstakes are pure games of chance and typically do not require any player skill or strategy. Every player\'s chance of winning is only affected by the number of lottery tickets he or she buys. One player\'s chance of winner is independent of another player\'s chance of winning As a result, there tends to be very little interaction among lottery participants.

In view of the foregoing, it may be understood that there are significant problems and shortcomings associated with traditional lottery games.

As disclosed in parent applications U.S. application Ser. Nos. 12/180,163 and 12/180,201, filed on Jul. 25, 2008, incorporated herein and described in-part below, lottery-style games are disclosed that are played using an interactive computing device such as a computer or mobile phone with an internet connection. In many cases, this may present an implementation issue for the current lottery market since over 95% of all lottery sales are currently made in retail stores, done using a paper betting slip that is scanned and processed by an online terminal (which is operated by the shopkeeper). Such online terminals are usually only set up to handle input in the form of said paper betting slips. Thus, in view of such issues, it may be understood that there are certain aspects of these disclosed lottery-style games that can be further improved upon.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

Systems and methods for lottery-style games are disclosed. In one particular aspect, a computer-implemented method for lottery-style games is disclosed. In one particular embodiment, the method includes the step of establishing, by at least one processor, a map-based lottery game that is scheduled to have a lottery drawing, where the map-based lottery game includes a gameboard comprising of a plurality of units, each selectable to represent an entry in the lottery game. In addition, a plurality of game entries are received each identifying a unit on the gameboard either with an identifier of the unit or with a lottery combination corresponding to the unit; and at least one winning entry from the plurality of game entries is selected by selecting among the plurality of units on the gameboard or among the units identified by the plurality of game entries.

In another aspect of the present invention, a system for lottery-style games is disclosed to include a processor, at least one storage device coupled to the processor, and a user interface coupled to the processor via one or more networks. Furthermore, in one embodiment, the processor is adapted to communicate with the at least one storage device and the user interface to execute instructions to establish a map-based lottery game that is scheduled to have a lottery drawing, where the map-based lottery game includes a gameboard comprising a plurality of units each selectable to represent an entry in the lottery game. Furthermore, the processor is adapted to receive a plurality of game entries each identifying a unit on the gameboard either with an identifier of the unit or with a lottery combination corresponding to the unit; and to select at least one winning entry from the plurality of game entries by selecting among the plurality of units on the gameboard or among the units identified by the plurality of game entries.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order to facilitate a fuller understanding of the present invention, reference is now made to the accompanying drawings, in which like elements are referenced with like numerals. These drawings should not be construed as limiting the present invention, but are intended to be exemplary only.

FIG. 1 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary method of facilitating lottery-style games in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates the flow of tokens from the perspective of a lottery game operator in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates the flow of tokens from the perspective of a player in a lottery game in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary system for facilitating lottery-style games in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating exemplary software and data-storage modules for facilitating lottery-style games in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows a map for an exemplary GeoSweep game in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates an alternative method of establishing a grid or land boundaries in an exemplary GeoSweep game in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates another alternative method of establishing a grid or land boundaries in an exemplary GeoSweep game in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary method of facilitating retail lottery-style games in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary GGR Gameboard utilizing the 6-part lottery number.

FIG. 11 is an exemplary table of an exemplary prize payout for a lottery-style game in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a flow chart illustrating an exemplary method of facilitating lottery-style games in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

In step 102, a lottery game may be set up. The lottery game may be an ongoing one that is scheduled to have a plurality of lottery drawings over a period of time. For example, the lottery drawings may occur on a periodic basis, such as once every hour, one or more times every calendar day or every business day, one or more times every week, or a predetermined number of times per month or year. As the lottery game is set up, a set of rules, terms and conditions may be published or otherwise communicated to potential participants. The rules may define how the lottery game is operated and how the lottery drawings are conducted, as well as calculation and payout of prizes, as will be described in more detail below. The terms and conditions may specify rights and obligations of persons participating in the lottery game and lottery drawings.

In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the lottery game is established online and accessible via an Internet website. The lottery game may also be implemented in connection with one or more social networking websites, such as Facebook™, MySpace™, or LinkedIn™. Alternatively, the lottery game may also be implemented in connection with one or more virtual reality games such as Second Life™ or other multi-player video games. The lottery game may be either an add-on or an integrated part of an associated website, wherein participation in the lottery game may enhance a player\'s experience at the associated website or vice versa. According to some embodiments, the lottery game and lottery drawings may be implemented at least partially offline, without requiring every participant to have computer or Internet access.

In step 104, players may be enrolled in the lottery game. Each person wishing to join the lottery game may be required to make a commitment to participate in a number of the scheduled lottery drawings. In one exemplary enrollment process, a player may (a) manifest consent to the set of rules, terms and conditions established in the lottery game and (b) deposit or pledge some amount of money or other things of value to be contributed to the game. The amount of initial deposit or pledge may depend on such factors as how many lottery drawings the player is obligated to participate in, how much wager the player is to enter for each drawing, the player\'s credit ratings, and so on.

Enrollment of players may be taken via a web interface, by mail, or through other communication means. When the lottery game is implemented in connection with a social networking website or other membership sites, enrollment in the lottery game may be simplified with the existing membership information. Alternatively, the lottery game operator, administrator, or personnel may receive and approve enrollment in person. In some instances, new players may join through referrals and/or gift membership.

In step 106, each enrolled player may be assigned one or more unique identifiers. Each player identifier (or player ID) may be a text string, a serial number, or other symbols. According to one embodiment, each player ID may be associated with a “Lucky Star” of the player\'s choice. According to some embodiments, each player ID may comprise a machine readable portion (e.g., an alphanumeric string) and a human recognizable portion (e.g., a logo, icon or catch phrase). For a player, one of the assigned player IDs may be used as a username for logging into an Internet-based lottery game. Or, the player may choose a different username to log in but is still able to manage multiple player IDs assigned to that player. The assigned player IDs may be imprinted or encoded on a membership card.

In the drawings or games described herein, each registered player can participate with one or multiple player IDs. When participating with multiple player IDs, the rules regarding each of the multiple player IDs are the same as if each player ID is owned and controlled by a single player. For ease of illustration, it is assumed in the following description that each player participates with a single player ID.

In step 108, each player may designate the number of tokens to enter for each drawing. That is, with respect to each lottery drawing the player is committed to participate in, the player may specify a wager amount that is typically measured in the number of tokens. As used herein, a “token” may be or represent any physical or virtual thing of value that can be counted or quantified. For example, a token may be or represent one or more units of cash or credit. Or, a token may be or represent one or more points that are exchangeable for things of value. According to one embodiment of the present invention, one token may be the equivalent of one cent ( 1/100 of a dollar). According to another embodiment, one token may be or represent one value point that may be used to exchange for music downloads, cell phone ring-tones, or for other online or in-store purchases. According to yet another embodiment, one token may represent one unit of a game score in an online video game or a virtual society. According to still another embodiment, one token may be or can be exchanged for one or more units of mobile telephone airtime or long-distance telephone minutes.

The players may purchase tokens with their initial deposits. They may set up electronic fund transfers and/or automatic credit card payments to refill their accounts with tokens. A player\'s account may be replenished automatically as soon as its balance falls below a preset lower limit. Apart from winning or purchasing refills, the players may alternatively or additionally obtain tokens through bartering or by engaging in certain activities. For example, a player may exchange credit card cash-back bonus points for tokens. The player may also take part in online surveys, view online advertisements, or increase activity level at social networking or blogger websites to earn tokens.

The number of tokens designated for each lottery drawing should typically fall within a certain range. For lottery drawings that take place on a daily basis, for example, there may be a daily minimum and a daily maximum for the number of tokens a player can contribute per player ID. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the daily minimum may be one token (e.g., one cent or one pence) and the daily maximum may be one hundred tokens (e.g., one dollar or one pound). The number of tokens that a player designates for each drawing may be any of a fixed value between and including the daily minimum and the daily maximum. Alternatively, the player may configure the daily wager to be a variable amount. To have a minimal level of participation in the lottery game (thus a more predictable revenue from the game), the game system may be configured to prevent players from lowering their preset daily wager amount for any upcoming drawings.

For each lottery drawing, a jackpot prize may be formed, in step 110, from two sources: (a) tokens contributed by players who participate in that drawing, and (b) tokens carried over from one or more previous drawings, if available. Tokens from the two sources may be pooled together into one jackpot. The jackpot (or a portion thereof) may account for a maximum payable amount for a winner of that lottery drawing.

In step 112, a random drawing from the player IDs may be conducted to select at least one winner. Note that the word “random” does not require randomness in the most rigorous statistical sense as such randomness is difficult to achieve. Instead, the word “random” implies a fair drawing process that does not appear to favor any one player more than any other player. The random (fair) drawing from the player IDs may be achieved in a number of computational methods as are well known in the gaming industry. According to some embodiments of the present invention, a single winner may be selected for each lottery drawing. According to some alternative embodiments, two or more winners may be selected for each drawing and they may share a prize fund on equal footings or according to an award hierarchy.

Then, in step 114, a proportional value may be calculated based on the number of tokens the selected winner(s) contributed versus the maximum number allowed per player ID. In step 116, a fraction of the jackpot (or maximum payable prize) may be provided to the selected winner(s) according to the proportional value calculated in step 114 above. In step 118, the remainder of the jackpot prize may be rolled over to a next drawing. Unless one or more selected winners happen to have wagered the maximum number of tokens and therefore won the entire jackpot, there would always be some remaining jackpot to add to the jackpot of the next drawing. In addition, the enrollment rule ensures continuous participation in the ongoing lottery drawings. As a result, the jackpot may quickly snowball into a large amount, further increasing players\' interest in the game.

For business advantages, it may be preferable to set the maximum number of tokens that each player ID can contribute to each drawing at a relatively low value. For example, if the daily maximum that can be entered for a daily drawing is one dollar, a player can contribute as little as one cent but never more than one dollar. The player will not feel any significant financial impact or burden to continue playing the lottery game for many drawing days. By wagering the equivalent of pocket change on a daily basis, the player may still enjoy a decent chance of winning a substantial amount of money.

FIG. 2 illustrates the flow of tokens from the perspective of a lottery game operator in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. For ease of illustration, it will be assumed that lottery drawings in the lottery game occur on a daily basis. On each drawing day, a pie chart 202 represents a jackpot prize and sources thereof, whereas a pie chart 204 represents the same jackpot prize (but shown separately for clarity) and disbursement therefrom. The pie chart 202 indicates that a first portion of the present drawing day\'s jackpot include tokens carried over from one or more previous drawing days. The pie chart 202 also indicates that second portion of the jackpot include tokens contributed by individual players for the current drawing. The pie chart 204 indicates that at least a fraction of the jackpot prize may be paid out to a winner of the day. Assuming there is a single winner and that player contributed 40 tokens out of the maximum 100 allowed, 40% of the jackpot prize may be paid out to the winner. In that case, the remaining 60% of the jackpot may be rolled over to a next drawing day.

FIG. 3 illustrates the flow of tokens from the perspective of a player in a lottery game in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The exemplary player, Player K, may be committed to participate in N lottery drawings occurring on N consecutive days, wherein N is an integer greater than one. The bucket of dollar-sign tokens represents an account balance for Player K. Player K may have started with a “full bucket” of tokens that were purchased upon enrollment. As described earlier, Player K may designate one or more tokens to be contributed to each daily drawing. The number of tokens designated may be constant or may vary day-to-day. As drawing days go by, unless Player K wins in one or more lottery drawings, Player K\'s account may be slowly depleted and may have to be replenished. If Player K happens to be picked as a winner in one of the drawings, the proportional payout from that drawing may also replenish Player K\'s account to some extent.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, Player K may also enjoy another source of tokens—referral rewards. In order to encourage Player K to refer additional players to join the lottery game, Player K may be awarded a number of tokens for each new player brought into the game. The referral rewards may be simply deposited into Player K\'s account. Alternatively, the referral rewards may be automatically entered into daily drawings on behalf of Player K and in addition to Player K\'s own contribution to the daily drawings. For example, for each new player that Player K received, one or more tokens may be added to Player K\'s daily wager amount. These additional tokens may be awarded to Player K as long as the newly referred player remains an active participant in the lottery drawings. Furthermore, the amount of referral rewards may be linked to activity level of the new player referred.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary system 400 for facilitating lottery-style games in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20130035149 A1
Publish Date
02/07/2013
Document #
13584322
File Date
08/13/2012
USPTO Class
463 17
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
63F9/24
Drawings
10


Games


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