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Scratching The Lottery Itch

Did you know that scratch tickets are considered lottery tickets?

Lotteries come in many shapes and sizes, and scratch tickets are just another part of the lottery family. But, how are these scratch lotteries designed and just how random is the distribution of tickets for them?

Scratch tickets are designed in a way so that all prizes are available to be won, but it depends on the number of winning tickets that are actually purchased before the game’s deadline.

Scratcher Specifics

In most cases, scratchers for a particular game are only available for a limited time, until a certain number of tickets are sold, sold by a certain date, or completely sold out. At that time, another series of tickets of full available prizes are placed into public purchase.

Unsold tickets from the last series may be pulled, and any unclaimed prizes are added to bonus tickets, placed back into the prize pool or, depending on the jurisdiction, may even be left in the pool for purchase.

Instant scratch tickets are predesigned, in that the winning and non-winning tickets are printed and distributed before any ticket is purchased. Unlike lottery draws, no numbers are required to be drawn to be matched to the tickets. All winning tickets are already winners.

The fun of scratch tickets is in removing the covering one by one to reveal the winning symbols, letters, or numbers already on the ticket.

But What About Security?

Ticket security is just as tight for scratchers as it is for slot machines or lottery draws.

For tickets, in general, the winning combinations and associated security features for each “ticket” are entered into a computer and randomly printed on tickets as they go through the printer.

Each ticket contains an individual serial number and other security markings to identify the actual ticket as well as highlighting whether it has any winning symbols on it or not.

The security features help establish the legitimacy of the ticket and all winning and non-winning symbols, letters, or numbers. These features, and associated oversight by the gaming commissions of jurisdictions, prevent anyone from decoding in any way whether a ticket is a winner or not.

Once printed, the ticket is immediately covered over in special coating that hides the symbols and associated security features and leaves visible only certain sections that enable a ticket to be scanned and verified by the retailer for sale and redemption.

What Are the Odds?

Random distribution of tickets to retailers ensures that there is no order or pattern to the winning and non-winning tickets available at each retailer. Any retailer could sell a winning or non-winning ticket at any time because of this. Nobody anywhere knows where a winning ticket will be sold, or which ticket could be a winning ticket.

In many scratch games, the overall odds of getting a winning ticket is around 3 to 1, meaning that approximately one third of all tickets will be a winner of some amount. However, it does not mean that if you buy three tickets, one of them will definitely be a winner. The odds of getting a top prize are usually around one million to one.

These odds are based on the total amount of tickets printed vs. the total amount of tickets sold. So, at the outset with no tickets sold, the odds of winning any prize will be 1 in 3.

As tickets get sold, these odds will go up and down as the total amount of winning and non-winning tickets purchased change over time.

Therefore, the odds of getting a winning scratch ticket are constantly fluctuating, as tickets are being purchased and removed from the prizing pool.

What Kind of Scratch Games Are There?

To market scratch tickets, operators target purchasers by creating certain themes for the games.

Anything from sports to TV shows, movies, horse racing, table games, special events, celebrations, or anniversaries, can be used as a theme.

There are bingo scratch tickets, in which you scratch off any matching number on your “cards” from the numbers “called” on the top of the card. Various prizes can be won if you get one line, two lines, a full card, etc.

There are jewel scratch tickets, in which you scratch off the “jewelry box” to reveal a gem, and if you get three of the same gem, you win the corresponding prize.

And then there are crossword scratch tickets, in which you scratch off the letters on your ticket that match the letters showing on the top portion. You win if you reveal one word or more.

Lottery scratch tickets are very popular with players, and represent a significant percentage of lottery revenue. The security surrounding scratchers is just as tight as it is for lottery draws, bingo, and slot machines.

So, if you think your lucky penny and intuition can gain you some money, give scratch lotteries a try.

The winning tickets already exist. Maybe the one you play is one of them.