A scratch card is made out of a thin paper card (for competition), and a plastic part which is there to conceal PINs. Some areas have information that is hidden by an opaque covering, and can be revealed by scratching that part of the card. They can also be called a scratch ticket, scratch game, scratch and win, instant game, scratch off or instant lottery. The scratch cards can be sold for quizzes that are free-of-charge, for lottery and gambling,  for cards that  are supporting calls to premium value phone services, and to hide some classified information (like PINs). Sometimes the whole opaque covering needs to be scratched off to see if the player won or not.  The cards are printed either to win or to lose, and sometimes they are printed with a secret code. This result has nothing to do with the amount you scratch off. In other cases, you do not need to scratch everything, just some areas. That usually applies to quizz cards, where the answer that you need to know will be hidden, and in some gambling apps, your winning depends on the areas you scratched. In these cases, the cards become invalid if you scratch too many areas, however, people usually scratch off rest of the areas just to see how they could have won after they already lost.


The original tickets were manufactured using only manual and random techniques. The American company, called Scientific Game Corporation, which was led by a promotion scientist Daniel Bower and John Koza in 1974, produced the first instant lottery game that was computer generated. There are  a lot of different scratch cards, but the most typical ones are the ones that have more hidden areas, where just few of those need to be scratched off. If the hidden areas you scratched reveal the same thing you win. Currently there are two important manufacturers of this game: Scientific Game corporation, who have production facilities in the UK, US, Germany, Chile, Australia, Canada and Brazil; together with Pollard Banknote, who have their facilities in Canada and USA.

Scratch cards are a quite popular form of gambling, because of their low cost and the instant opportunity to win, as opposed to having to wait for a drawing like you usually would in a lot of lotteries. The popularity of these scratch cards has been dramatically rising (more than any other form of lottery). Some more expensive scratch cards have prizes that are worth millions of dollars. However, a lot of these “instant” tickets that are sold in the US, and especially in Massachusetts and New York, will not pay your top prizes instantly. They play them over many years, without any cash option. There have been many attempts to try to increase odds of finding prize-winning cards, based on their statistics, by tracking the number of prizes that have been won and the number of cards that have been sold. Some lotteries give these kinds of information to their customers, free of charge, to promote their games. A lot of state lotteries also give a sweepstakes, that is a second-chance to increase the consumer demand and to try and help control the litter problems that are associated with inappropriate disposal of cards that did not win.

Break opens, which are also called break open cards, Nevada tickets, breakopens, strip tickets and sometimes in some Bingo Halls they are called pickles, are lottery bingo cards. They have concealed numbers, letters or symbols, which will determine the winner. These cards are usually made out of cardboard and they contain perforated cover that needs to be broken, so that a player can see the combinations that are printed.

Online gambling cards, came around in the 2010, as versions of virtual scratch cards (not physical cards). These gambling games used Java and Macromedia Flash to duplicate the behaviors of scratching a card. The cards can be bought and the prizes can be collected over the internet. Scratch cards can sometimes be used to hide some important information, without any element of skill. Phone cards that are sold for a price, and provide a specific phone number are a good example for these cards. Unlike credit cards, the card itself does not have any functions. It is simply made to inform the customer who bought the card, his secret PIN, which is required for his phone.


It is a known fact that scratch tickets lose more than they win, but you can always make a good strategy that can help you. You can avoid frustration and make extra winning opportunities by avoiding the typical mistakes that an average lotto player would make. Nevertheless, you have to remember that scratch tickets are still just a gamble, but that does not mean you cannot make a much friendlier wager. When buying these tickets, you need to “buy smart”, pick a price point. Scratch tickets are lotto tickets that are sold with varying styles, odds and designs, and one of the easiest ways to compare them is by their price. You have a lot of cards, and every card has its own price, and of course, some are more pricey than others depending on the area in which you live and the game ticket you want to buy. It is obvious that if you buy a ticket for a lower price, it will have a low percentage of winnings, smaller spread between top prizes and ratio prizes, as well as low payouts. Tickets that are more expensive will have a higher win rate percentage, they usually with a higher jackpot and a bigger spread of high-payouts. In other words, even if a low price ticket would win more often, the top prize is very low, and the average prize will be even lower. However, if you buy a more expensive card, you might win less, but when you do win it will surely make a big difference.

You need to understand the odds of this game before you purchase a ticket. The odds that are listed for any particular games are usually the odds that any of the tickets can be a winner. Just because games sometimes present higher odds of winning than some other games, does not mean that you are guaranteed to win a jackpot, it just means that the ticket is more valuable, and has a large spread of lower prizes. You should always buy tickets that you can afford with the highest possible odds of any kind of winnings. For serious lottery players who want to buy in bulk, a better choice is usually the lower price cards with higher odds. Occasional lottery player would probably be better off buying a more expensive ticket, from time to time.

There is a small print on the back of every scratch card, that is very important and it should be studied, to have better odds at winning. Before making any educated guesses as to which cards should you buy, you should try to compare the odds of few games. Usually, the odds will be listed as numbers of comparison; for an example, 1:7, or 1:15, which means that 1 out of every 7 or 15 tickets is the winning ticket. What you should understand is that this does not mean that every seventh ticket in a row will win, and that if you buy 15 tickets, you are going to have one winning ticket. It just means that the total number of tickets that are allotted in stores across the state, have that percentage of winning tickets.

You should either stagger your ticket buying, or buy in a bulk. Rarely is there a chance of two winning tickets to be sold in a row, but there are always few winners in every roll of these tickets. For that purpose, if you already know that a winning card has been bought from a given pack, you should stop buying tickets for a few days, or you should go to another store, or try out a different game. This will make sure that you do not spend your money when there is 99% chance that you will lose. Scratch-off tickets will always have a guaranteed number of losing and winning tickets in each of their packs (that is usually around 30-40 tickets). There is one way to guarantee that you will win something, which is to buy a whole pack of those tickets. That might not end up making you a bigger profit, but at least you will win something.


No matter how weird it sounds, you should always hang out around and wait for some losers. Exactly like slot machines and some other games of chance and luck, longer streaks of losing usually indicate that the odds will be much more friendly if you go in with better odds and a well-timed purchase. You can always talk to the cashier at a store of your liking, and get information about which games had more winners, and which games had more losers. This does not mean that you will know for sure if a particular ticket has a higher chance of winning than others do, but you will be able to know if the game has already been payed out or not. If there is a customer in front of you that bought 10 tickets that all lost, you should try to buy a few tickets yourself. It does not guarantee that you will win something, but it does mean that your chance of winning with the next purchased ticket is a lot higher.

Check out the prize levels before buying any ticket of any game. Unfortunately, for scratch off ticket players, it is perfectly legal for stores to sell tickets even after all the prizes have been claimed. There are some stores that would inform their customers of such matter, by putting a flyer outside of their shop, but even that flyer is weeks behind. The simplest way to be sure that you are not wasting your money on losing cards is to check in with the state lottery page. You should always check out the top prizes, before you go to the store to test out your luck on scratch off tickets. If the top prizes are lower than usual, (if the top prizes have been taken), consider switching to a different same price point game.

Save the tickets where you lost, to avoid some common mistakes. There are a lot of places that will have second-chance lottos, where you will be able to send in your losing tickets from a particular game, for another drawing. Try to keep your losing tickets organized in an envelope by game. This way it will be easier to go through second change opportunities when they are finally announced. Do not forget that that a losing ticket might still win you some money. From time to time, the lottery commission will start advertising these 2nd chance drawings, after the top prizes have already been paid out, in attempt to drive away the sales of essentially losing tickets. If you know that the top prizes have already been given away, you should not buy the losing tickets just to have a chance at the second-chance drawing. You should only use it for the tickets you have already bought. Do not play the game just because later it would be collected as a 2nd chance lotto ticket.

Always turn in all of your losing tickets. If you win something with a normal ticket and you want to turn it in to collect your prize, always bring back all of your losing tickets. Use the computer to check the winnings and to make sure you have not missed anything. It can be easy to neglect winnings, in games that have several different ways for you to win prizes. Making the computer check will help you not throw away any of your possible winning cards. When you want to save tickets for a chance of the second-chance opportunities, you should take them back and try to save them until such time as the second-chance lotto gets announced.


Try to avoid any kinds of “Mystery Packs”, along with any kind of package promotions. Retailers will sometimes repackage the tickets, and put them on a discount, even after all of the top prizes have been taken away. Just because this seems like you are getting a real deal, understand that if the top prizes have already been taken or claimed, the probabilities that these tickets will win you anything is a complete bogus. It is always better to be focused on active games, where the numbers are friendlier and where you actually have a change of winning some real money.

Try examining the tickets before you actually pay for them. There was one Canadian professor that noticed a recruiting pattern in which the winning tickets were being printed. If the printing outside of the tickets vary, you should always pay attention to it. However, many states corrected this error and many stores will not allow you to examine the tickets before you pay for them, so it will be difficult to see any pattern, but it is still worth examining the tickets for any patterns you might be able to notice and find another manufacturing error.

You can always stay ahead by setting a scratch-off budget, and sticking with it. Decide on how much you are willing to spend on these scratch-off tickets every week. You have to make sure to give the exact amount of money you can afford to lose, on scratch-off tickets, because you can lose a lot of money by playing lottery. Never spend more than your decided budget. You have to be able to resist the temptation of buying more tickets, since the statistics will not just randomly change in your favor.

Also, pick a game you like and are satisfied with, and stay with it until your prizes are paid out. Some lotto tickets pay off consistency in a long run. Just keep playing the game, with your already decided budget and the odds you like, until the top prizes are paid out, then you should preferably switch to another game. Look at it as a rule: “I cannot play another game.” There are some players who have a different philosophy about this. You could always just pick a store you like and always buy different sorts of games from that store. Make a consistent routine of buying scratch-off tickets, because the stakes of winning are lower than the stakes of losing.

It is smart to quit while you are still ahead. If you buy a winning ticket, take the money and leave the store. Do not spend that money on buying more scratch-off tickets, especially if that goes beyond your budget. This alone can increase your winning income from scratch-offs because if you use your winning money for more tickets it is quite likely that you will lose them again. Remember, the numbers are not your friends in the long-term, and that this does not have to be your routine. Some people just love to buy tickets from time to time, to test their luck, with no attachments to the actual game.