Tips to Winning Money From Scratch Off Lottery Cards

It might not be the most exhilarating game to wager on, but it is the quickest and easiest way to win some money. Not only are they fun, but they can also award you immensely without breaking your bank. Of course, I’m talking about scratch-off lottery cards.

As is the case with all gambling games, there are plenty of scratch-off card varieties. Any player can find what they are looking for by browsing the numerous colorful scratch-off cards displayed in stores.

What’s even better about scratch-offs is that you can buy them almost anywhere:

  • Gas stations
  • Local markets and supermarkets
  • Liquor stores
  • Newsstands
  • Over internet

If you thought that scratch-off cards are based on luck, you are not entirely wrong. However, not many people know that there are some tips and strategies to help you win big by scratching off a lottery card.

If you are not familiar with them — consider yourself lucky!

I will introduce you to the fantastic world of scratch-off tickets and teach you how to top up your bank account with a couple of smooth moves.

By going through this article, you will read about the following:

Many players prefer to keep to themselves when gambling; if you are one of them, scratch-off tickets are the ultimate choice for you. Continue reading to see what you need to do to win big.

Short History of Scratch-Off Cards

History of Scratch Cards Icon

Scratchers do not have a long history — they originated in the United States in the 1970s. An American company Scientific Games Corporation and a scientist by the name of John Koza, with the help of a retail specialist Daniel Bower, produced the first computer-generated scratch-off card in 1974.

The Massachusetts State Lottery launched the first scratch-off lottery ticket shortly after and called it The Instant Game. Later on, in 1987, the patent for the scratch-off lottery card was bought by the American company Astro-Med Inc.

  • Original scratch-off tickets had a solvent-based coating that was not safe for the environment, which is why companies did not want to be associated with this type of manufacturing.
  • In the late 1980s, a specialist invented a water-based coating. This new type of coating is abrasion-resistant, can be scratched off easily, and is still commonly used in scratchers today.

The initial goal of scratch-off cards was to scratch off three same symbols or numbers and thus win a prize — and this is still the case today. However, over the years, scratch-off tickets have significantly improved, introducing new and innovative features to attract players.

These days, you can find a variety of different symbols that need to be scratched off in mixed rows, columns, etc. There are countless interesting adaptations of scratch-off cards, including themes such as:

  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Hockey teams and competitions
  • Comic book characters
  • Popular TV shows
  • Movies

Additionally, cutting-edge technology allows players to enjoy traditional scratchers online. Macromedia Flash and Java introduced virtual scratch-off cards in 2010 that people can “scratch off” online. Just like conventional tickets, these can be bought online.

Legality of Online Scratch-Off Tickets

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Most states in the US have legalized online scratchers, allowing people to freely use them online. The federal government does not prohibit online scratch-off cards. However, state governments have the right to do so.

The crucial thing to note is that you can purchase online scratchers in the US if the sites that offer them are based offshore. Unfortunately, there are no legitimate United States-based websites that provide online scratchers.

As you probably already know, you should be careful when picking a website where you’ll use scratch-off tickets.

  • Before you register, always check whether proper authorities have legalized the online gambling site you’re considering.

US citizens and visitors should know that Alaska, Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah still haven’t legalized online scratch-off lottery cards.

Popularity of Scratchers

Popularity of Scratch Cards Icon

It didn’t take long for scratch cards to take off in the United States. They introduced a revolutionary way of gambling without taking up too much time out of people’s busy schedules.

  • Scratchers were introduced as a budget-friendly gambling method that could potentially bring players a lot of cash.

The fact that you can buy scratch cards anywhere only increased their popularity. Moreover, the simplicity of the game and the security that comes with it made scratch-off tickets extremely popular among all age groups.

The development of the online gambling industry further increased the popularity of scratch-off cards. Even today, scratchers are still dominating the online gambling market.

Even though many people regularly buy scratch-off tickets, not a lot of them know how to maximize their investment. Keep reading to see what you can do to win big.

How to Choose the Right Scratch-Off Tickets?

If you are the type of player who likes to feel the coin scratching the cards, I have some advice for you.

There are a couple of crucial points you should take into account before you start investing in scratchers.

Determine a Budget

It’s easy to get carried away and buy scratch-off tickets every time you’re buying gas or groceries. However, that could significantly affect your budget.

My advice is to set aside a monthly or biweekly sum for scratchers. Every time you get your paycheck, calculate how much money you can put aside for scratch-off tickets.

No win is guaranteed, so you should be prepared to lose some of the money you set aside. Also, make sure that you never spend more than you initially planned.

Pick a Game

As you know, there are different varieties of scratch-off cards. They offer different prizes and come with different price tags. Pick a scratcher within your price range and stick to one game type.

Playing scratchers this way will give you a psychological advancement. You will be determined to go through most of the cards until the top prize gets paid out. When this happens, whether to you or another player, switch to another game.

Quit While You’re Ahead

Don’t spend your winnings on more scratch-off lottery cards.

Instead, quit while you’re ahead. Using your winnings to buy more scratchers will likely result in more losses. Simply put the money in your pocket and walk away.

It shouldn’t matter how small or big your winnings are — you have made money from playing a game, which is already fantastic.

Avoid Making Common Mistakes

Players often make mistakes when gambling, and scratchers are no exception. Just like in any other game, mistakes can be made with scratch-off cards, too.

Let’s see which ones could give you trouble.

Not Saving Losing Tickets

Some lottery commissions run the so-called “second-chance lotto games.” To participate in these games, players need to send their losing tickets and hope to win a prize the second time around.

So it’s best if you save your losing tickets — organize them by game type or manufacturer and use separate folders.

It’s a smart way to keep them safe and ready if the lottery commission announces a new round of prizes.

Not Checking Losing Tickets

Many modern tickets offer numerous ways to win prizes — not only scratching off three same numbers or symbols. It is easy to overlook a win if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Therefore, it’s best that you take your losing scratch-off cards to the location where you bought them and have them officially checked. You can ask the clerk to run the tickets through a computer to check if there are any hidden winnings.

If you weren’t lucky, you can still take the tickets back home and save them for second-chance lotto games.

Falling for Special Promotions

Interestingly, retailers have the right to re-package unsold tickets and promote them as “special discounted packages.”

However, these packages usually consist of unsold scratchers whose top prizes have already been paid out.

Do not make the mistake of buying these packages simply because they are discounted — they are a waste of your hard-earned money.

Tips for Winning Big with Scratchers

Now that you know how to choose the right scratch-off cards and which mistakes you shouldn’t be making, let’s see which tips you should follow for winning big.

As is the case with any other game, there are plenty of useful tips that relate to scratchers. However, these tips cannot guarantee you will win. Instead, these tips can increase your chances of winning prizes and hitting jackpots.

Consider the Price

Scratch-off tickets range from $1 to $20 and come with different:

  • Odds
  • Games
  • Styles

The easiest way to distinguish them is by price.

As you can imagine, the cheapest tickets offer you the smallest chance of winning, whereas more expensive ones ($5 and higher) come with more significant winnings odds.

The chances of winning are higher with these tickets and the prizes also reflect the price. You can expect a $1 card to offer a prize worth a couple of hundreds of dollars, not more.

On the other hand, more expensive tickets offer jackpots worth thousands of dollars — sometimes even a million.

Additionally, cheaper tickets typically don’t reward players often. You can win more often with more expensive scratchers.

Buy Sporadically

The number of tickets in every roll is about 30 to 40. There are rarely two winning tickets in a row, but there are a couple of winners in every roll of scratchers.

If you are aware that someone has bought a winning card from a roll, don’t buy the next one right away. Wait for a day or two or go to a different shop to buy your ticket.

You can also pick a different game if you mind waiting.

Buy in Bulk

Experienced players recommend buying scratchers in bulk. Some manufacturers place rewards frequently in their ticket roll.

  • It’s a smarter decision to buy five to ten tickets at once because you will have higher odds of finding one winning ticket.

Even if you don’t end up winning the jackpot, you could win several smaller prizes.

Also, it will save you the car drive — you won’t have to go out every day or every other day to buy scratchers.

Do the Research

As I have mentioned before, retailers can sell scratch cards even after the top prizes have been awarded. It is perfectly legal and they do it for profit.

To avoid getting scammed into buying useless tickets, always check before purchasing them. You can do it by visiting the official website of the lottery or calling its customer support.

It won’t take you long but will save you the trip and the money.

Understand the Odds

The odds are often listed on the back of scratch-off tickets. They represent how big or small the chances of that ticket becoming a winning one are.

Unfortunately, simply because the odds are higher, that does not mean your chances of winning are also higher. However, it means that the ticket is more valuable for that price, compared to the spread of smaller prizes. It may sound confusing, I know.

  • In essence, you should buy scratch cards with the highest odds in the more expensive price range with your budget.

However, if you’re buying in bulk, be careful not to break your bank — buy less expensive tickets that have the highest odds.

Scratch Cards Strategies

It’s safe to say there aren’t many strategies for winning money from scratch-off tickets. The game is mostly based on luck and there aren’t a lot of strategies that could help you increase your chances of winning.

However, there are a couple of things you could do.

Check the Small Print

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Serious players will do everything in their power to secure a scratch-off ticket jackpot. If you are particular about the tickets you purchase, you should take the time to check the small print on the back.

Now that you know why the odds are an essential part of the game, you should know how to read them.

  • The odds are usually represented by numbers (1:10 or 1:50). This means that one card out of ten or fifty, respectively, is the winning card.

Keep in mind that this does not mean that every 10th card is a sure winner, but, in a pack of fifty cards, you will find five winning cards. Winning tickets can be arranged in any way in a roll.

Use the Slot Strategy

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If you are familiar with games of chance, you have probably heard of the “slots lurking strategy.”

Experienced slot players will lurk around slot machines in a casino to see whether someone will hit the jackpot. If they witness someone running a couple of losses in a row and walking away from a particular slot — there’s a chance.

It is not a guarantee that the next spin will hit the jackpot, but the chances are higher.

The same goes for scratch-off tickets. If you have the chance, hang around a shop while other players buy and scratch off their cards. If you notice a couple of losing tickets from the same roll, buy the next two or three. Your ticket will have better odds.

However, if you are not comfortable doing this or don’t have the time — there are other ways.

You can ask the shop clerk whether the previous players have had any luck. If you come across a chatty clerk, you may learn some valuable information you can use to your advantage

Online Scratch-Off Cards

Online scratch-off cards are slightly different from traditional scratchers, but not a lot. The most significant difference is how you use them — the basis of the game is the same.

  • If you prefer to play from the comfort of your home, online scratchers are the right option for you.

Both online and regular scratch tickets look the same. Some online casinos provide the users with the “real feel” of the game — players can use their mouse to scratch off the top layer to reveal the symbols or numbers.

What makes online scratch-off tickets popular among players is their availability — you can play them anytime and anywhere.

There are two versions of online scratchers for players to choose from:

  1. Web-Based Scratch Cards

    Web-based scratch cards are the most common type of scratchers.

    Users do not need to download any software to their device and can choose to play in-browser. Note that you will probably need to install a plugin to load the scratchers.
  2. Download-Based Scratch Cards

    Less common online scratchers but still widely used are downloadable scratch cards.

    Users need to install software to their device to start playing. Once the download is completed, you will need to connect to the online card provider.

Are There Any Tips for Online Scratchers?

Tips for Online Scratch Card Players

Most of the tips and strategies I mentioned for traditional scratch cards apply to online scratchers as well. The crucial thing to note is the odds. You should always check the odds from the game provider — they are represented in the same way as on traditional tickets.

  • If you prefer playing longer, choose online scratchers that have the highest number of wins.

If you are the type of player who likes to bet a lot, pick an online scratch cards that displays large wins on the paytable. Since you are risking a lot, you can expect higher winnings.

As is the case with any other online game, always look for a safe online casino where you can play without worrying. The operator should have valid licenses from proper authorities.

Online vs. Physical Scratch Cards — Which One to Go For?

It is often difficult for players to determine which option is best for them since both online and physical scratch cards have positive and negative aspects. If you’re having trouble deciding which one to choose, a list of pros and cons for both scratch card versions may help you make up your mind.

If you purchase scratch cards at your retail shop, you’ll have the satisfaction of physically scratching the thin layer of foil covering the prize. Moreover, those who believe they’re lucky will enjoy picking the cards personally, as most retailers will allow you to choose the cards you want from a big pile. Traditional scratch cards also usually feature bigger prizes than online ones, but you’ll have to leave your home to buy them.

On the other hand, online scratch cards can be bought from the comfort of your home with a few mouse clicks. Additionally, you’ll have a greater choice of visuals, making the otherwise straightforward game more interesting. Although the prizes may be smaller, online scratch cards are much cheaper than those sold at retail shops.

Ultimately, it all goes down to your preference. Analyze the pros and cons of both options and go for scratch cards that better suit your taste.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a simple trick that will help you win money from scratch-off lottery cards every time — if there was, everyone would be doing it!

When you are playing a game of luck, you can’t win on every try. Luckily, I have prepared and delivered a couple of simple tips and tricks that you can use to maximize your success. I do not guarantee that every suggestion will work flawlessly — because it won’t.

My best tip would be not to let yourself lose control. If you feel you have been spending too much money without seeing any results — take a break and come back in a couple of days. Scratchers will be patiently waiting for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have collected some questions from interested players and made a list of the most frequently asked ones to help you master this game. Keep reading to find out more.

Can I get cash instead when I win a free ticket on a scratch-off card? No, you can’t. If you scratch off a free ticket, you can only exchange it for another scratcher. You cannot exchange it for money.
How long do you have to wait to claim a prize? State lotteries and private manufacturers have different rules. Usually, you will be given up to 90 days to collect the prize. You can always get fresh information by calling the customer support whose number is on the back of the card.
I purchased four scratch-offs where the odds were 1:4 and I didn't win anything. Why is that? The odds apply to the whole roll or pack of scratch cards. If the odds are 1:4, that doesn’t mean every fourth card is a winning one. Winning scratchers are randomly distributed throughout the roll/pack.
Can you play scratch-offs online for free? Some online casinos offer free scratch-off cards to new users, but not all of them. You need to dig deeper and find out which online casinos offer free scratchers. If you come across a site that offers scratchers without previous deposits, you can win money without investing anything!
Do scratch cards expire? The cards can “expire” if all the prizes have been collected or scratched off. However, losing scratchers can still be sold even if the biggest prizes have been won.

About the Author

Author Sadonna Price has been part of the online casino industry for over a decade, watching it develop and expand across the US. She enjoys playing online slots and table games, as well as Texas Hold’em.