It all came to Rocco Promutico in a dream.
On a day when he had shoulder surgery, back in 1998, Promutico had a very vivid dream: He was sitting at a table in a casino, playing a game called "Six Shooters."
"I was playing a game that I had never seen before," Dover Township resident Promutico said. "When I woke up, I was able to sit down and draw out a whole sketch of how the game was played."
From that sketch came the basic structure of a game called "Roll 6 Poker," which last month was transformed into a New Jersey Instant Lottery game.
Since the first blue, yellow and red Roll 6 Poker tickets went on sale throughout the state Jan. 26, nearly $2 million of the $3 tickets have been sold, said Foster Krupa, Instant Game marketing manager for the New Jersey Lottery.
Krupa said it is unusual for one person to design a game that is picked up for distribution by the state lottery.
"It's not every day that a single person comes out of the woodwork and comes up with a game that is a great concept," Krupa said.
Promutico, a retired Edison police captain who moved to Dover in 1996, is now trying to interest Atlantic City casinos in the game, which he describes as a combination of craps, roulette and poker.
He has received two U.S. patents for the game, one for the method of play and one for the actual structure of the game itself. All this from a guy who rarely ventures to Atlantic City casinos and seldom buys lottery tickets.
"Atlantic City is only an hour away, but we don't go there very often," said Promutico, who lives off Windsor Avenue with his wife, Lori. He said he purchases lottery tickets "every once in a while," but only if one of the lottery's instant games appeals to him.
"She thought I was crazy when I first told her I had dreamed about this," Promutico said.
"He's right," Lori said, laughing.
Attempting to market his game, Promutico contacted Krupa a little more than year ago and dventually sent him a sketch of what became the Roll 6 Poker Instant Game.
"I thought it had some merit, and it was an interesting idea," Krupa said.
Getting the game approved for sale by the lottery and working out the details took a little more than a year. In December, Promutico finalized his deal with the lottery, and Roll 6 Poker went on sale last month.
The game will dventually be sold throughout the country as an instant lottery game, Promutico said. Krupa said 5.4 million of the Roll 6 Poker tickets have been printed, and the tickets will be sold until supplies run out.
"In his case it truly is a unique game in the sense that he was able to patent it and claim the rights to it and carry it through," Krupa said.
On the second floor of their home, the Promuticos have a blanket-sized version of Six Shooters, created by Promutico to show to casinos and others that might be interested in marketing his game.
"It's not a complicated game," Promutico said as he pointed out the different ways to win. "It's not intimidating. It can appeal to those who like roulette, and understand that game, to those who like craps and to those who like poker."
The Instant Game version of Roll 6 Poker has a top prize of $66,000 for the one lucky "player" who discovers six 6s underneath the yellow scratch-off die at the top of the game card.
Players scratch off the yellow die on two separate lines, or "rolls." Players then check the total number accumulated in each roll to see if it matches a prize-winning score revealed at the end of the line.
If the roll matches the score, players win a prize, which is revealed by scratching off another box on the ticket.
But that's not the only way to win. At the bottom of the card is a "prize legend," which gives players additional chances to win.
Sixty-five percent of the proceeds from the game will be returned to the state to support programs benefiting education and institutions. In fiscal year 2003, total sales from all instant games were $901 million, a lottery record. Of that figure, $237.5 million was returned to the state.
There have already been some local winners, including one woman who purchased a winning ticket worth $600 from a Cracker Barrel restaurant on Fischer Boulevard.
The next step is to convince a casino to take a chance on the game, which has proven difficult so far, Promutico said.
"Lori and I showed it to a couple of casinos, and they seemed interested, but they want one casino to sponsor it, to be the one to test it," Promutico said.
He said he hopes one day to have a Six Shooters Web site as well.
"I think I'm working as much now as before I retired," Promutico said with a smile.
TIM MC CARTHY
Rocco Promutico holds a sample of the "Roll 6 Poker" instant lottery ticket, a game that he envisioned in a dream.
TIM MC CARTHY
A before-and-after view shows the scratch-off game he hopes might interest Atlantic City casinos.