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Lottery Information

Scratchcard

A scratchcard (also called a scratch off, scratch ticket, scratcher, scratchie, scratch-it, scratch game, or instant game) is a small token, usually made of cardboard, where one or more areas contain concealed information: they are covered by a substance that cannot be seen through, but can be scratched off.

Applications include gambling (especially lottery games), quizzes, and to conceal PINs for telephone calling cards and other prepaid services.

In some cases, the entire scratchable area needs to (or may be) scratched to see whether a prize has been won, or to reveal the secret code; the result for the cardholder does not change based on what portions are scratched off or not. In other cases, selected areas have to be scratched; this may apply in a quiz, where the area corresponding to the right answer is scratched, or in gambling, where depending on which areas are scratched one wins or loses. In these cases the card becomes invalid if too many areas are scratched. After losing one can scratch all areas to see if, how, and what one could have won with this card. Such cards are vulnerable to attack by devices which allow individuals to see through the concealing substance without physicically disturbing it.

The original game tickets were produced using manual randomization techniques, in 1974 the American company Scientific Games led by scientist John Koza and retail promotions specialist Daniel Bower produced the first computer generated instant lottery game for the Massachusetts Lottery.

Simple scratchcards require the player to match three (or varying numbers) of the same prize amounts. If this is accomplished, they win that amount. More complicated scratchcards have several different ways to win on one card. Other scratchcards involve matching symbols, pictures or words, or are adaptions of popular (card-)games like Blackjack, Poker or Monopoly. Games are also tied to popular themes such as Harley Davidson, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, Marvel Comics and World Cup.

Currently. there are three major manufacturers of game tickets, Scientific Games with production facilities in the USA, Chile, UK and Germany, Oberthur Gaming Technologies with production facilities in the USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia and Pollard Banknote with production facilities in the USA and Canada. There are several other smaller manufacurers in North America, Europe and Asia.

Scratchcards are a very popular form of gambling due to their low cost. You can also win instantly as opposed to waiting for a drawing like many lotteries.

The low cost to buy a scratchcard is offset by the smaller prizes and lower expected value, compared to casino jackpots or lottery wins. There is a trend towards more expensive scratchcards (20-30USD) that have prizes in the millions of dollars.

There are also online versions of the same game which utilize Flash and Java to simulate the experience on a computer.

The other recent change in scratchcards is the increasing attempts to predict which cards have prizes. In the past, scratchcards have been a random impulse purchase. Now, there are amateur and professional efforts to track the number of prizes won and cards sold so people have access to the current odds on all the games available.