The United States is one of the only countries to grant patents for newly created casino games. The process of inventing and patenting a new Casino Game is similar to the patent process of any other invention. As with any new invention, the inventor must first make sure there is nothing like it on the market already.
Requirements of a New Game
There must be proof of a market for your game before investing a large amount of time and money into the patent process. The inventor should first test the market and make sure the new game is not similar to on any other existing game. A new casino game must also be simple and easily understood by players. In order to attract investors and players, the game must have simple rules and be appealing within the first 30 second of explaining the game.
The game must first have a field trial in a casino. The casino will keep all profits made from the game and the inventor will have to pay the costs of training casino staff to deal the game, custom-made equipment, and signage. There must also be an application for a permit submitted to the Gaming Control Board along with a filing fee. It takes approximately a year for the board to review and approve the application.
Few casinos accept new games because in order to implement a new game, they would need to replace an existing one that already generates a large amount of profit, such as blackjack. The newly invented game must generate more money than the existing the games in the casino for it to be profitable for the casino.
Furthermore, casinos only want to carry games that generate a large profit for the casino. In order for casinos to want to invest in the game the odds must be good for the house. It would also be a good idea to run trials on all the possible hands and outcomes for the game. Then the inventor can hire a mathematician to calculate the odds for the house to win as well as the odds of winning for players.
Obtaining a Patent
The inventor can first file a provisional patent application which gives them one year to decide whether or not to file a nonprovisional patent. The inventor can use the 12-month grace period to see if there is a market for the new game. This is especially useful for inventors on a budget because the cost of filing a provisional patent application is relatively low compared to the cost of filing a nonprovisional patent. Upon filing a provisional patent application, the inventor can say they have a "patent pending" which will help protect the elements of the new game as the inventor decides whether or a nonprovisional patent is worth pursuing.
In order to file a provisional patent application, the game must be described in detail and it must enable someone in the casino game industry to easily build and use the game. The provisional patent application should focus on claims and novel aspects of the game that will differentiate the game from the casino games that already exist.
Protecting the Game
Different types of intellectual property laws can protect different aspects of the game. For example, the name of the game is eligible to be trademarked, or if an instruction manual is created, it can be protected by a copyright. The method of play, if unique and original, may also be protected through a patent.
In order to begin the process of obtaining a patent, you will need to contact a patent attorney who can perform a patent search to decide which components of the game can be patented. The search will help the inventor avoid infringement on any patents and other copyrighted material. Any derivative of a current game can be viewed as possible copyright infringement which can have costly consequences.
Many larger gaming companies will search through the numerous patents they own to see if a new game is similar. If they find any similarities, they may try to continuously sue the inventor of the new game that will lead to high legal costs. The only option for the inventor is to pay the large legal fees or to sell the game at a below market price.