Patent application title: Detection of Improper Bets in Real-Time Wagering Systems
John Schipani (Berkeley, CA, US)
Deviprasad Malladi (San Jose, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63F924FI
Class name: Credit/debit monitoring or manipulation (e.g., game entry, betting, prize level, etc.) pool amount (e.g., jackpot, etc.) parimutuel pool
Publication date: 2011-10-20
Patent application number: 20110256925
Methods, systems, and software for accepting bets on contests, such as
sporting events, with wagering terms that change in real-time with the
progress of the contests are disclosed. The disclosed methods, systems,
and software may include security features that check the time at which
bets are placed to ensure that they are not being placed in the interval
between when an event occurred in the contest and when the wagering terms
were changed to reflect that the event occurred.
1. A method for accepting wagers on a contest in which the wagering terms
change in real time with the progress of the contest, comprising:
accepting bets on one or more wagering terms from one or more bettors
while the contest is in progress using a server communicating with the
one or more bettors over a communications network; monitoring the
progress of the contest; determining whether the one or more wagering
terms have changed as a result of one or more events during the progress
of the contest; determining whether or not the bets were placed during an
improper interval between a time that one of the events occurred and a
time that the one or more wagering terms were changed to reflect the
event; and rejecting any of the bets that were placed during the improper
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the duration of the improper interval is calculated by adding at least an amount of time necessary for the server to be notified of events during the contest to an amount of time necessary for the one or more bettors to be notified of the new set of wagering terms.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein the amount of time necessary for the server to be notified of events and the amount of time necessary for the one or more bettors to be notified of the new set of wagering terms are averages or running averages.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein the amount of time necessary for the one or more bettors to be notified of the new set of wagering terms is calculated for each one of the one or more bettors.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein the amount of time necessary for one of the one or more bettors to be notified of the new set of wagering terms is calculated by a method comprising: transmitting a first packet of data to the bettor; and receiving a second packet of data from the bettor, the second packet of data indicating the time at which the first packet of data was received by the bettor.
6. A method for accepting wagers on a contest, comprising: accepting bets on one or more wagering terms from one or more bettors while the contest is in progress using a server communicating with the one or more bettors over a communications network; if an event occurs in the contest, determining projected wagering terms based on the event; comparing a difference between the one or more wagering terms and the projected wagering terms with a change threshold; and changing the one or more wagering terms to the projected wagering terms if the difference is greater than the change threshold.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein the one or more wagering terms include an outcome value and an odds value.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein the comparing comprises comparing the difference between the outcome value and a projected outcome value with the change threshold.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein changing the one or more wagering terms comprises changing the outcome value to the projected outcome value if the difference is greater than the change threshold.
10. The method of claim 9, wherein if the difference is less than the change threshold, the method further comprises: changing the odds value by an amount based on the difference.
11. The method of claim 6, further comprising: determining whether or not the bets were placed during an improper interval between a time that one of the events occurred and a time that the one or more wagering terms were changed to reflect the event; and rejecting any of the bets that were placed during the improper interval.
12. A wagering system, comprising: a bookmaking server in communication with one or more bettors through a communications network, the bookmaking server being configured and adapted (1) to accept bets on one or more wagering terms from the one or more bettors on contests while the contests are in progress, (2) to monitor the contests and change the one or more wagering terms based on events in the contest, (3) to determine whether or not the bets were placed during an improper interval between a time that one of the events occurred and a time that the one or more wagering terms were changed to reflect the event and to reject any of the bets that were placed during the improper interval, and (4) to calculate the improper interval for each one of the one or more bettors based at least in part upon an amount of time it takes for data to reach each one of the one or more bettors.
13. The system of claim 12, further comprising a feed server in communication with the bookmaking server over the communications network, the feed server being adapted to notify the bookmaking server of the events in the contests.
14. The system of claim 13, wherein the bookmaking server is adapted to calculate the improper interval based at least in part upon the amount of time it takes for data to reach each one of the one or more bettors and the amount of time it takes for data to be transmitted from the feed server to the bookmaking server.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application is a continuation of International Application No. PCT/US2009/52049, filed on Jul. 29, 2009, which claims priority to, and the benefit of, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/085,189, filed Jul. 31, 2008. The contents of both of those applications are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The invention relates to systems for accepting and processing wagers on events, such as sporting events, and more particularly, to systems for detecting improper bets in real-time wagering systems.
 2. Description of Related Art
 Wagering or betting on sporting events is an enormously popular and growing activity that is common with both team sports (e.g., baseball, basketball, American football, and soccer) and with individual sporting events (e.g., tennis and boxing). With most sports, fixed-odds betting is used, in which case the bettor knows the odds at the time that the wager is placed. A bookmaker sets the odds for most types of fixed-odds betting, generally doing so in such a way as to ensure that the "house" will profit, and accepts bets from bettors. The bookmaker may also take a commission, called "vigorish," "vig," or "juice," on each bet that is accepted.
 Several different types of bets are commonly placed. First and simplest, a bettor may simply wager on the outcome of the sporting event (i.e., which competitor will win). This type of bet is often referred to as a moneyline bet.
 A second type of bet is a spread or point spread bet. Spread betting is a type of betting on the outcome of an event in which the payoff is based on the accuracy of the wager. Specifically, in spread betting, a bettor wagers that the difference between the final scores of the two competitors in a game will be less than a particular value. For example, if a basketball game has a point spread of four, the winning team must win by at least five points for a bettor who bet on the winning team to win, and the losing team must lose by less than four points in order for a bettor who bet on the losing team to win. Point spreads are often quoted in half-points to avoid ties. The use of a point spread helps to even the betting by drawing bets to the team or competitor believed to be weaker. Without a point spread, bettors are likely to place most of their bets on a team or competitor thought to be stronger; with a point spread, bettors may place bets on the weaker team or competitor and still have a chance of winning.
 Another common type of betting is over/under betting, in which a bettor wagers that the total score for a game, or for a particular team or competitor playing in that game, will be over or under a particular value.
 Yet another common type of bet is the proposition bet, which is a bet placed on a very specific outcome in a sporting event. For example, proposition bets may be placed on the performance of an individual player during a team sporting event, on the outcome of the next play, or on whether a player on one team will accumulate more points than a player on the other team.
 Finally, a bettor may combine multiple bets into a parlay. In parlay betting, a bettor makes multiple bets together. If each one of those bets wins, then the bettor is typically rewarded with a much higher payout than if the bets had been made individually. However, if any one of the bets loses, then the bettor loses the parlay bet.
 In fixed-odds betting, bets generally have odds attached to them, which define the payout relative to the amount wagered. There are many different systems for quoting odds, including fractional systems and decimal systems; however, in the United States, the most common type of odds are moneyline odds. Moneyline odds are quoted as positive or negative figures. If the quoted odds are negative, they refer to the amount that must be wagered to win $100; if the quoted odds are positive, they refer to the amount that will be won with a $100 wager. For example, moneyline odds of -110 would indicate that the bettor must wager $110 to win $100. Moneyline odds of +110 would indicate that if the bettor wagers $100, payout on winning is $110. Because the amount wagered is always returned to a winning bettor, the payout on -110 odds would be $210 ($110 wager plus $100 winnings); the payout on +110 odds would also be $210 ($100 wager plus $110 winnings).
 Generally speaking, the odds that are quoted include the bookmaker's vigorish, if one is being charged. The vigorish may be applied proportionally or disproportionally. For example, if the true odds of a sporting event (without vigorish) are -100, -100, and vigorish is applied proportionally, the odds might be quoted as -110, -110. Alternatively, if the vigorish is applied disproportionally, the odds might be quoted as -120, +100.
 In most situations, the bookmaker tries to limit his or her financial risk and to make money regardless of the outcome of any particular sporting event. There are two general strategies for limiting a bookmaker's risk. First, the bookmaker can set the odds for a particular sporting event to be different than the "true" odds for the event, in order to draw bets toward one competitor or another. Second, a bookmaker may attempt to "balance the books" by attempting to ensure that he or she has assumed the same amount of risk for each side or outcome of a sporting event. For example, balancing the books may entail accepting only certain types of bets, or matching opposing bets.
 Most traditional bookmakers accept bets only until the start of a sporting event, although some will accept propositions during the event, and other bookmakers may reopen betting during halftime or other lengthy breaks in the event, only to close betting again before the action resumes. Traditionally, most bookmakers have believed it to be too risky to accept bets while a sporting event is in progress, because events in the game occur too quickly for the bookmaker to set and promulgate new wagering terms.
 Some attempts have been made to design systems that allow bets to be accepted during sporting events. As one example, the World Sports Exchange (St. Johns, Antigua) provides a system that allows bettors to place bets on sporting events while those events are in progress. However, in that system, although the odds may change to favor the bookmaker as the event progresses, the point spread and other wagering terms do not change.
 In the last few years, the gambling industry has begun a shift toward the Internet and World Wide Web. Some bookmakers have created online presences with which to accept bets from bettors all over the world. (The World Sports Exchange system, for example, is World Wide Web-based.) However, that technological shift brings with it a number of technical challenges. For example, the Internet was not originally designed for secure commercial transactions, and creating a secure transaction system for accepting bets is difficult.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 Aspects of the invention pertain to systems for accepting wagers while sporting events are in progress and to security measures that may be employed in such systems. Those methods involve checking the time at which a bet was placed and comparing that time with the time that an event in the contest occurred and the time that it took to promulgate new wagering terms based on the event in the contest in order to confirm that the bet was not placed in the interval between when the event occurred and when new wagering terms were promulgated based on the event having occurred.
 Other aspects, features, and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description that follows.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The invention will be described with respect to the following drawing figures, in which like numerals represent like features throughout the drawing figures, and in which:
 FIG. 1 is an illustration of a wagering system that offers real-time changing wagering terms according to one embodiment of the invention;
 FIG. 2 is a flow diagram illustrating a method of using the system of FIG. 1 according to one embodiment of the invention;
 FIG. 3 is an illustration of an exemplary graphical user interface used to view wagering terms and place wagers in the method of FIG. 2; and
 FIG. 4 is a time line showing a sequence of events from the moment that an event occurs during a game to the moment that a bettor receives updated wagering terms based on that event having occurred, and illustrating intervals of time during that sequence of events in which bets may be accepted and rejected.
 FIG. 1 is an illustration of a wagering system, generally illustrated at 10, according to one embodiment of the invention that offers real-time changing wagering terms. In general, system 10 and other systems according to embodiments of the invention allow bettors to place fixed-odds bets during sporting events and other contests. Moreover, in system 10 and in other systems according to embodiments of the invention, the wagering terms--e.g., the odds, the point spread, the handicap, the over/under threshold, the vigorish, and any other terms or elements of the wager--may vary during the sporting event depending on the events during the sporting event or contest itself.
 In the following description, it should be understood that although certain examples of system 10 and other systems according to embodiments of the invention will be given with respect to sporting events, the systems, associated methods, and software may be used for any form of contest on which bets may be placed. Thus, when the term "sporting event" is used, unless otherwise noted, it should be construed to include any sort of contest. Additionally, the terms "wager" and "bet" will be used interchangeably in this description, and it should be understood that those terms need not necessarily refer to monetary gambling. Instead, system 10 and other systems according to embodiments of the invention may be used with any form of remuneration or compensation, and may also be structured as games in which no monetary transactions take place. Moreover, although examples will generally be given using moneyline odds, any method of quoting odds may be used, as may any other terminology or betting conventions.
 System 10 includes a bookmaking server 12, which is responsible for coordinating most functions of system 10. The bookmaking server 12 may be a single machine, such as a computer server, or a network of interconnected, interoperating machines. Thus, although shown in FIG. 1 as a single entity for ease in illustration, the functions ascribed to the bookmaking server 12 may, for example, be distributed across a number of interconnected machines. In fact, distributing the functions of the bookmaking server 12 across several machines may be advantageous for the sake of security and redundancy. For simplicity, however, the bookmaking server 12 will be referred to in the singular in this description.
 The bookmaking server 12 is typically connected to at least one communications network, such as the Internet. However, system 10 may also be used with private or semi-private local area networks (LANs) and other wide area networks (WANs). In configurations in which the functions of the bookmaking server 12 are divided among multiple interoperating machines, some of those machines may be given the exclusive function of communicating with other computers using the communications network, while the tasks of accepting bets, setting wagering terms, and other sensitive matters are performed by a separate machine that is protected by a firewall, i.e., a set of network communication rules that limit access to it, or by other security measures. Any known and suitable protocols may be used to communicate between machines in system 10, although certain helpful methods and protocols for communication will be described below.
 As was noted above, in system 10, wagers are accepted during sporting events, and the wagering terms are changed during the sporting events based on the progress of those events. The bookmaking server 12 is thus made aware of the progress and details of at least one, and typically many, sporting events at any one time. There are several ways in which the bookmaking server 12 may be provided with information on those sporting events while they are in progress. In some embodiments, the bookmaking server 12 may be connected to an event information feed service 14 that monitors the progress of a plurality of sporting events (baseball, basketball, soccer, football, and tennis are illustrated in FIG. 1, although there is no limit to the number and nature of sporting events that may be monitored and wagered on using system 10) and conveys information on the status of each sporting event to the bookmaking server 12, typically in the form of a data description language such as the extensible markup language (XML). The data provided by the event information feed service 14 to the bookmaking server 12 will be referred to as the event feed 16.
 Event information feed services are known in the art, and the information that they provide as part of their event feeds 16 may be any conventional sort of information that is typically provided, and/or any sort of information that is necessary or desirable for monitoring a sporting event or setting wagering terms. For example, for a basketball game, the event feed 16 may provide information some or all of: the identities of the teams competing, the official game time at which events occur during the game, the time remaining in the game and/or the quarter, the score, and which team has possession of the ball. Typically, when an event occurs during the game, the event feed 16 will describe at least the nature of the event and the official game time at which the event occurred during the game.
 One event feed 16 is shown in FIG. 1. Some event information feed services 14 may provide a single feed that contains information for multiple sporting events, while others may provide multiple feeds, each providing information on a single sporting event. Either configuration of event feeds 16 may be used with system 10.
 However, some embodiments of system 10 may not use an event information feed service 14 and an event feed 16. Instead, an event monitor 18 or monitors 18 may watch sporting events in real-time (e.g., on television or in-person) and may provide the bookmaking server 12 with information on the status of each sporting event manually. Event monitors 18 may be located remotely from the bookmaking server 12 and may communicate with it over a general communication network, such as the Internet, or a LAN or WAN. The event monitors 18 may or may not have the ability to manually alter the wagering terms for an event, depending on the embodiment. As will be described below in more detail, it is generally advantageous if a human is monitoring the sporting events and has the power to override wagering terms set by the bookmaking server 12 if something unexpected occurs during one of the sporting events.
 As will be described below in more detail, the bookmaking server 12 is generally configured and adapted to provide bettors with wagering terms and to allow bettors to place bets during sporting events. FIG. 1 illustrates that the bookmaking server 12 is connected to a communications network 20, which may be the Internet. A number of bettors 22, 24, 26, 28 who are interested in wagering on sporting events have computing devices 30, 32, 34, 36 that communicate with the bookmaking server 12 via the communication network 20. The bookmaking server 12 may, for example, provide a World Wide Web site to which the computing devices 30, 32, 34, 36 may connect.
 A "computing device," as the term is used here, may be any device that can connect to the communications network 20 and communicate with the bookmaking server 12. Examples of computing devices include, but are not limited to, desktop and laptop computers, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, and smart phones. The bookmaking server 12 may provide a different interface for each device that is tailored to the capabilities of the device.
 In embodiments of system 10, the computing devices 30, 32, 34, 36 of the bettors 22, 24, 26, 28 may communicate with the bookmaking server 12 by means of a standalone software client application running on their respective computing devices. However, in other embodiments, it may be advantageous if the software that is used to communicate with the bookmaking server 12 is configured to run within an existing standard client application, such as a World Wide Web browser. For example, the software that is used to communicate with the bookmaking server 12 could run in a Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or Netscape Navigator.
 As those of skill in the art will understand, a number of different communications protocols may be used simultaneously to handle different layers or levels of communication over the communications network 20. Communication between the bookmaking server 12 and the computing devices 30, 32, 34, 36 of the bettors 22, 24, 26, 28 that is related to wagering is most advantageously by means of a "session-oriented" communications protocol. In a session-oriented protocol, a virtual connection is maintained between two computing devices, and each device is aware of the context of the data that is sent and received and status of the other device. Exemplary programming languages that can be used to create applications or applets that use session-oriented protocols include Java (most advantageously with signed applets), Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and AJAX.
 FIG. 2 is a flow diagram that illustrating a method, generally indicated at 50, of using system 10. Method 50 begins at task 52 and continues at task 54. At task 54, a bettor 22, 24, 26, 28 initiates a session connection with the bookmaking server 12, for example, by clicking on a website link that causes a Java applet to be downloaded and executed. The Java applet, once it begins execution, would then connect to the bookmaking server 12. The precise sequence of events that occurs in order to establish a session will vary with the software that is used. As one example, the NIO package may be used to establish and maintain sessions for Java-based implementations.
 Method 50 continues with task 56, in which a user (i.e., a bettor) is authenticated to the bookmaking server 12. Typically, bettors using a system such as system 10 would maintain accounts with the operator of the system, so that the money or other exchange medium used for wagering is on deposit with the operator. In addition to an indication of the amount on deposit, each account would typically be associated with identifying user information, such as a user name and password. In task 56, a bettor would be authenticated to the server, for example, by requiring the bettor to enter his or her password.
 If the user is a new user (task 58:YES), method 50 continues with task 60, in which a new user account is created. If the user is not a new user, method 50 continues with task 62. The tasks of creating and maintaining user accounts are well known in the art, and any common means of doing so may be used in system 10 and method 50. For example, new users may be asked to pass a CAPTCHA test by reviewing an image or sound with characters or words that are not machine-readable and entering those characters to confirm that the user is human. Users may also be subjected to a scheme in which they pre-select an image when establishing an account, and thereafter, the system displays that image to them when requesting a password or other identifying information, so as to confirm that the user is providing the information to its intended recipient. The system may also collect name and address information from a new user, as well as banking information and any other forms of relevant information.
 Once a bettor has been authenticated, method 50 continues with task 62. In task 62, the bettor is provided with information on which events are available for betting, and is permitted to select an event for betting. Depending on the embodiment of method 50, a user may be permitted to bet on only one event at a time, or on several events at a time. After a user has selected an event, method 50 continues with task 64, in which the current wagering terms being offered for that event are displayed. At this point, method 50 continues with task 66, in which bets are accepted.
 Tasks 62-66 of method 50, as well as some other tasks that will be described below, may be performed by the user using an integrated graphical user interface (GUI). FIG. 3 is an illustration of one exemplary GUI, generally indicated at 200, that may be used with method 50.
 The GUI 200 provides an event list box 202 that lists the various sporting events for which wagers are currently being taken, and the bettor can select one of those events by clicking on it. Below the event list box 202 is a wagering terms list box 204 that lists the various types of wagers that are available for that event. The GUI may also include options to display the odds or other wagering terms in different ways. For example, the bettor may be able to select whether the amounts shown are in terms of the amount that is to be risked or the amount that will be paid out on a successful bet. If the bettor wishes to place a wager, he or she can select a type of bet from the list box 204 and enter his or her bet.
 Once the bettor has entered a bet as in task 66 of method 50, the bettor may be asked to re-authenticate to the system or otherwise to confirm that the terms of the bet that the bettor is placing are correct. The data on the bet is then transmitted to the bookmaking server 12.
 After a bet has been placed, it is listed in the wager status list 206. The wager status list generally shows the nature of the wager (including the point spread, over/under points, or other terms of the bet), the odds, and the amount wagered. Also shown is the status of the bet, i.e., whether the bet has been won or lost. Other information, such as the time at which the bet was made, may also be shown in the wager status list 206.
 In some embodiments, the bookmaking server 12 may not immediately accept the bet. Instead, a combination of automatic and manual security measures may be used to "vet" bets before they are accepted by system 10. Tasks 68 and 70 of method 50 illustrate one form of automatic security measure.
 One difficulty with accepting bets during a sporting event is that the sporting event often unfolds very quickly, and thus, in order for system 10 to be profitable for its operator with the lowest possible level of risk, new wagering terms should be set equally quickly. In an ideal situation, the bookmaking server 12 would be able to adjust wagering terms with each new occurrence in the sporting event almost the same instant that it occurred. However, that ideal situation virtually never arises in practice. In actuality, it takes some span of time for the bookmaking server 12 to become aware of events, to adjust the wagering terms appropriately, and to transmit those new terms to bettors.
 Specifically, FIG. 4 is a timeline, generally indicated at 250, indicating a typical time course from the moment that an event occurs to the moment that a bettor receives updated wagering terms from the bookmaking server 12 that are based on that event having occurred. Timeline 250 begins when the event occurs. After an event occurs, it generally takes some amount of time, usually on the order of milliseconds or seconds, before that event is logged by a referee and/or official scorer for the game. On timeline 250, that span of time is denoted t0. When the event is logged, the time at which it is logged becomes the official game time of the event. Next, assuming that an information feed service 14 is used, it takes some amount of time, t1, before the feed service 14 receives notice of the event, a further amount of time, t2, before the feed service 14 is able to transmit notice of the event to the bookmaking server 12, and yet more time, t3, before the bookmaking server 12 actually receives the information. (If a human is manually logging events and entering them, the same intervals apply, although their durations may be longer--i.e., it takes some time for a person to receive information indicating that an event has happened, and yet more time for that person to make the bookmaking server 12 aware of the event.) Once the bookmaking server 12 receives the information, it requires time to set new wagering terms, t4, and to transmit those terms to the computing devices 30, 32, 34, 36 of the bettors 22, 24, 26, 28, t5. Finally, there is some expanse of time, t6, before the wagering terms transmitted by the bookmaking server 12 are received by the computing devices 30, 32, 34, 36. Thus, the entire delay from the point at which an event occurs to the point at which new terms are received by the bettors 22, 24, 26, 28 is represented in timeline 250 as t0-t6.
 A canny bettor who is informed of events quickly could place a bet in the t0-t6 interval, while old wagering terms are still in effect because system 10 has not yet disseminated new ones. A bet placed during that interval could be of considerable advantage to the bettor and considerable disadvantage to the operator of system 10.
 Therefore, as indicated at task 68 of method 50, before accepting a bet, the system 50 holds the bet for an amount of time sufficient to check the timing of the bet request and ensure that the bet was not placed during an improper interval (i.e., t0-t6) just before new wagering terms are to be or were promulgated.
 In determining whether the timing of a bet request is proper, different methods may be used. As it is not always possible to determine the amount of delay in each of the t0-t6 intervals precisely, some of those intervals may be estimated, and other intervals may be regarded as trivial and ignored, depending on the embodiment and the degree of precision desired. Of course, the shorter that the t0-t6 interval actually is, the less likely it is that a bet can be placed improperly in this manner.
 When establishing when an event occurred, the official game time recorded by the event's official scorer provides a baseline time stamp (the interval t0 may be difficult to establish with any certainty). That game time is typically provided in an event feed 16. The amount of time it typically takes the feed service 14 to register and then transmit notification of the event can be determined as an average by testing, or by comparing the time of receipt of the information at the bookmaking server 12 with the official game time of the event.
 In some embodiments, the feed service 14 may also transmit with each packet of data the time at which the packet was sent. If the bookmaking server 12 then logs the time at which each packet of data is received, then the time delay can be calculated by simple subtraction.
 It is likely that the t4 and t5 intervals, during which the bookmaking server 12 establishes new wagering terms, will be trivial. In fact, it is advantageous if the software and methods used on the bookmaking server 12 are written so as to operate as quickly as possible and minimize those time intervals, and certain means for doing so will be described below.
 The other lengthy interval of time is likely to be t6, the interval between transmission of new wagering terms by the bookmaking server 12 and receipt of those terms by the bettor's computing device 30, 32, 34, 36. The t6 interval would generally be different for each bettor, based on his or her location relative to the bookmaking server 12 and the speed and nature of the connection with the bookmaking server 12. In order to determine this length of time, the system 10 can be configured such that each time the bettor's computing device 30, 32, 34, 36 sends a packet of data to the bookmaking server 12, it reports the time at which it received the last packet of data. Since the bookmaking server 12 would then know both the time at which the packet was transmitted and the time at which it was received, t6 can be calculated with reasonable accuracy after some threshold number of data packets have been received, and the result may be an average or a running average that is updated as new packets of data are received.
 If, in task 68 of method 50, after comparing the time at which a bet was placed with the calculated or estimated t0-t6 interval, a bet is found to have been placed in the interval t0-t6 (task 68:YES), the bet is rejected and method 50 returns to task 64, in which the available wagering terms are displayed; if the bet was not placed in that interval and was instead placed in the interval denoted as t7 in timeline 250, then the bet is accepted and confirmed in task 70. In most cases, a bettor's wager amount is debited from his or her account immediately after the bet is confirmed in task 70, in order to prevent the bettor from gambling with funds that have already been wagered.
 Task 72, with which method 50 continues after task 70, represents the process of monitoring sporting events and changing wagering terms. This process is different for each sport. It should be understood that because system 10 can accept bets for multiple sports simultaneously and because there may be multiple types of bets accepted for each sport, several different processes, algorithms, and/or methods may be running concurrently in task 72.
 A number of different algorithms may be used for changing wagering terms during sporting events, depending on the sport in question and the needs of the operator of system 10. Rules by which the wagering terms are changed may be heuristic or algorithmic. Those of ordinary skill in the art will be able to devise a number of different methods, and any of those methods may be used in system 10.
 For example, in the game of basketball, scoring occurs at a rapid and nearly constant pace throughout the game, and possession of the ball often changes with equal rapidity. Thus, the point spread and odds at any point in the game would depend on the current score, the amount of time left in the game, and the actual rate at which points are being scored during the game. Possession may also be taken into account in some methods of changing the wagering terms, particularly at the end of a quarter, a half, or in the final few minutes or seconds of a game.
 American football, however, is quite different in its pace and scoring than basketball, and the methods for changing the wagering terms during the game will thus take into account different factors. For example, with football, methods for changing the wagering terms may take into account primarily which team has possession of the ball and the position of the ball on the field. The game clock and amount of time remaining in the game may also play some role in setting the wagering terms.
 In a game like baseball, methods for changing the wagering terms during the game may take into account factors such as the current inning, which team is batting, and the current score.
 As those of skill in the art will understand, in changing the wagering terms, it is generally helpful to do so in a way that makes it difficult for a bettor to "bet both sides," i.e., to place two or more bets that effectively cancel each other out. Moreover, as was described above, each time the wagering terms are changed, it takes time to prepare and promulgate the new wagering terms and creates a risk of improper betting based on old wagering terms. Thus, when the wagering terms are changed, it is advantageous if that change is significant.
 Several strategies may be used to ensure significant changes in the wagering terms. One such strategy is to use thresholds that help to determine when the odds should be changed.
 For example, assume in a basketball game that the current point spread being offered to bettors is 8 points, and that, based on the current score and the time left in the game, the projected point spread is 6.2 points. Also assume that system 10 is programmed with a point spread change threshold for basketball of 2 points. No change to the point spread would be made in that situation because the difference in the projected and current point spreads (1.8 points) is less than the threshold. However, if the difference between the projected and current spreads is greater than the threshold, the current spread would be changed to the projected spread.
 Wagering terms may also be changed in interrelated ways in order to achieve the objectives described above. For example, if the point spread is less than the change threshold, the odds may be changed to compensate for the fact that the point spread is not being changed. In terms of moneyline odds, the odds may be changed by some default value per number of points that the projected and current point spreads differ. To continue the example above, if the difference between the current and projected point spreads is 1.8 points and the default value is three intervals of five "cents" per point, then the odds may be adjusted 25 cents for a particular team. Thus, for example, a team that had -110 odds might have -135 odds instead. (The home and away team spreads may be calculated separately and need not be the same number.)
 This sort of interrelated changing of wagering terms is particularly useful whenever there are wagering terms including an outcome value (i.e., a point spread, over/under points, or baseball runline) and an odds value. Although use with a point spread is described above, this basic method could be used with over/under points, a runline, or other similar types of wagers.
 Generally speaking, the bookmaker's vigorish will also change in task 72. Typically, the vigorish will begin at a low value and will increase as the game continues. Once increased, the vigorish will generally not be decreased.
 At the conclusion of task 72, method 50 continues with task 74, a decision task, in which it is determined whether the sporting event is complete. If the sporting event is complete (task 72:YES), method 50 continues with task 76; if the event is not complete, method 50 returns to task 66 and continues accepting wagers.
 In task 76, the bets that won and lost are determined, and bettor accounts are credited for their wins. As those of skill in the art will realize, as the sporting event progresses, some bets made by the bettors will clearly have won or lost before the event is over. In some embodiments, winnings may be credited to bettor accounts before the sporting event is over. However, it may be advantageous to wait until the event is over to credit wins. That is because a typical bettor may make several bets during the sporting event, some of which will have won and some of which will have lost. If wins are credited only at the end of the event, it is likely that the bettor's losses will temper his or her wins, so that a lesser amount is ultimately paid out.
 Once a sporting event is over and a bettor's winnings have been paid out, if the bettor desires, he or she may continue by selecting another sporting event on which to wager, as shown in task 78. More particularly, if the user decides to continue his or her session (task 78:NO), method 50 returns to task 62. Otherwise, the bettor's session is closed in task 80 and method 50 returns at task 82.
 Although method 50 has been described and illustrated as a particular linear sequence of tasks for ease in description, it should be recognized that certain tasks of the method may be performed in an order different from that illustrated and described, that additional tasks may be performed, and that certain tasks may be consolidated with others or eliminated entirely. Method 50 may also be executed many times in parallel to handle a large volume of bettors and a variety of simultaneous sporting events.
 It should also be understood that although method 50 and certain of its tasks have been described in the context of system 10, certain tasks, such as the tasks of checking to see whether a bet was placed in a proper time interval, may be applied to any method or system in which bettors are allowed to wager on sporting events while the events are in progress.
 While the invention has been described with respect to certain exemplary embodiments, the embodiments are intended to be illuminating, rather than limiting. Modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the appended claims.
Patent applications in class Parimutuel pool
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