Scratch cards are a popular type of instant-play, lottery-style games that give players a golden opportunity to turn small bets into large jackpot wins. If you have played one of the many local, state or national lotteries, then you are pretty much set to play scratch cards.
Also known as scratch-and-win cards, scratch-offs, scratch tickets or lottery games, today’s scratch cards are direct descendants of cardboard scratch cards that first hit the gambling scene in the early 1970s.
Today, these instant win games are nearly ubiquitous in every gambling setup, from online and brick-and-mortar casinos to gas stations and convenience stores. Some scratch card games are run by casino operators, lotteries, and even governments across the globe.
If you are looking for ways to take your scratch cards game to the next level, you are in good company. This guide is all about how to play scratch cards.
What Are Scratch Cards so Popular?
The variety of scratch card games available in the online casino space will simply blow your mind. They come in all shapes and sizes. And the best part? You can select the amount you want to bet on the game of scratch card.
Not only are scratch cards cheap and hassle-free to play but they also bring the added benefit of giving gamblers chances to become instant and big winners. This is particularly attractive to players who don’t want to wait for days, weeks or even years before winning.
Brief History of Scratch Cards
The first scratch tickets were created using manual random number generation techniques. That was until 1974 when one brilliant computer scientist, John Koza, created a computerized system for generating instant lottery tickets. He was working at Scientific Games Corporation and collaborated with Daniel Bower, then a well-known retail promoter.
The first SG Corporation scratch-offs were called The Instant Game; the scratch cards were mass-produced by the Lottery Division of Dittley Brothers.
Koza’s system formed the basis for the scratch card templates that are produced to date. In 1985, Astro-Med, Inc of Rhode Island was awarded a patent for inventing the instant scratch card lottery ticket.
Their tickets were basic, to say the least. The player was required to scratch off 3 spots on the ticket to reveal symbols or numbers underneath. If they matched, then the player won the prize indicated on the scratch-off.
Over several years, the scratch cards evolved dramatically, giving players more ways to play and win. At one point, the scratch cards featured themes: comic characters, major sports leagues, and famous brands. You could get scratch cards with popular themes like Marvel Comics, NASCAR, MLB, NBA, Harley Davidson, and so forth.
In 1974, Massachusetts became the first state to use the appeal of lottery scratch cards to raise funds for the local government. The Instant Game was a massive hit with residents in the state, with instant cash payouts and innovative gameplay being the most attractive features.
It wasn’t long before Michigan, Maryland and New York hopped onto the scratch cards bandwagon, so did most of the states within a matter of a few years.
As of this date, there 2 chief makers of lottery-based scratch cards in the US: Pollard Banknote, and Scientific Games (SG) Corporation. They also operate in several countries across the world, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Australia, and the UK.
Aside from physical scratch cards, online casinos and other gambling sites offer a huge selection of instant play lottery-based games. Most of them pay in seconds and can be played with a few cents per card.
How to Play Scratch Cards - The Basics
Playing scratch cards is easy peasy, no matter where you enjoy them. In an online casino, you must get three symbols of the same kind on your scratch in order to win.
The winning combo is shown on the screen of your device in case you win. In a standard online scratch card, if you have three symbols of 1x, the payout is even. If you have three 2x symbols, your payout is two times your wager.
Similarly, if you win with 5x symbols, your payout is five times your bet, and 10x symbols on your card will pay you 10 times the amount you wagered.
Other multipliers in online scratch cards are 20x, 25x, 30x, and 50x which is the highest possible payout. You will get an instant prize equivalent to your bet amount multiplied by the winning symbol. If you bet $20 on a scratch card with three 20x symbols, you will win a total of $400.
Not all online scratch cards are created equal. To make sure that you are playing the best scratch card game online, follow these simple steps:
Step #1: Pick a Safe, Credible Online Casino to Play Scratch Cards
There is a wide range of casino sites for players to pick from when they want to play exciting online scratch card games. As with everything in the gambling world, there is always the likelihood that some sites are fly-by-nights and online scams.
That’s why you need to be keen to check that the online casino is safe, reliable and reputable. How long has the casino been in existence? As a rule of thumb, you should pick a casino that’s at least a year old. That means it has been tried, tested, and reviewed, which brings us to the next step.
The good news is that we have reviewed each and every online casino that’s listed on this page. Check out our opinion on the casino’s customer support, reputation, banking options, scratch cards games selection, ease-of-use of the website, and much more.
Even before that you need to see to it that the online casino you are interested in playing at is registered with a trustworthy gambling authority, such as Malta Gaming Association (MGA), UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Nevada Gaming Control Board, Illinois Gaming Board, the Swedish Gambling Authority, etc.
If the casino isn’t fully regulated and licensed, you better run elsewhere with your money. Don’t linger: just run with your hard-earned mullah. After all, the scratch cards game is only as excellent and fair as the online casino itself.
If your instincts tell you that the casino isn’t safe, simply don’t register or play.
Step #2: Choose the Fairest Online Scratch Cards Game
It’s no secret online scratch cards are super easy to play, even newbies could use them without practice. It’s as easy as 1-2-3: choose, scratch and win!
However, you must keep in mind that there are myriad online scratch cards, from match games to the ones for which you have to reveal what’s under the symbols. The trick is to pick a scratch card game that’s familiar to you, whether in terms of the theme, gameplay, price, rules or symbols.
For instance, if you are an avid player who loves table card games, then you should go for scratch cards based on casino table games like baccarat, blackjack, etc.
When doing this, be on the lookout for scratch card games that have the largest possible guaranteed jackpot. It should also come with a predetermined amount of jackpot you can win no matter the cost of the card. This is a great idea because you don’t have to shell out more money to be eligible for a bigger jackpot.
On the same but lighter note, go for “scratch-all” cards which makes it uber-easy to see your outcome and move on to the next one. This is especially the case for scratch cards with 9, 10 or more symbols.
Ultimately, you want to check out the hit rate and the return to player percentage (RTP) of the scratch card game.
Part of the joy is in the experience of the scratch and the anticipation of the win, after all. More often than not, a great scratch card game has an RTP of approximately 92% and above. The hit rate should be so-so or 50% and higher. This information should be available on the scratch card page, plus you can search online for it using your favorite search engine.
Step #3: Use free play mode to practice
“Practice, practice, practice” should be your personal mantra in the gambling universe. The good thing is that most online scratch card games have what’s called free-play mode, which means that you can play without using real money. Try to practice for at least a couple of days before you start using your dollars.
Step #4: Wager your bottom dollar
By this point, you should have picked both your preferred online casino and the right scratch card game for you. The next sensible step is to set your bet.
Online scratch cards are dirt cheap, which is the biggest reason more and more players are ditching the paper-based scratch-offs. What’s more - you choose the bet amount before you start the game. For most online scratch cards, the amount you can wager ranges from $1 to around $20 or even more depending on the casino.
You can also alter your bet amount at any moment. Just check for a small box that shows the exact value of your wager. From here, use the down or up arrows to adjust the bet amount until you are satisfied.
Step #5: Start scratching!
When you have your scratch card game up and running, all that’s left to do is scratch away. With online scratch card games, there are at least 2 ways you can reveal the hidden symbol.
You can simply reveal the symbol by touching or clicking on it. What’s underneath the symbol will be shown immediately. If you are patient, you can reveal one symbol after another. That’s part of the thrill of playing scratch card games online.
Alternatively, you can use a “show all symbols” button. In some games, this is indicated by a “reveal all” button. Just click or tap on the button, and voila, all of your card’s symbols are revealed.
You will also be glad to know that your winnings are paid out instantaneously to your bankroll. This is amazing for players who want to use their money on other casino games like online poker, blackjack, slots, etc. If you prefer to cash out, you can withdraw via available payment methods, ranging from Bitcoin and e-wallets to bank wire and direct transfers.
Tips for Winning at Scratch Card
The beauty of scratch cards is that you can have fun and potentially make quick money without having to spend too much on getting the cards. Scratch cards are a game of pure chance, which means luck plays a big role.
That, however, doesn’t imply that you can do nothing to improve your chances of walking away with your bank account fatter. Once you have picked the best scratch card game on a secure, safe and reputable online casino, it’s high time you master your strategy.
Here are some tips to help boost your odds of winning when playing internet scratch cards:
Tip 1. Be Smart When Choosing the Scratch Card
If you prefer real-paper scratch cards, the number of options you have is still simply astonishing. They come in a vast variety of brands, prizes, prices, designs, and sizes. The whole scratch card buying process can feel overwhelming, if not downright confusing sometimes.
Given the broad price range, it’s only natural for one to go for cheaper scratch tickets. This might look good on paper, but there’s a catch. They are cheap for a reason: the prize pool is usually very small.
So, instead of buying a bunch of lower-priced tickets, opt for fewer medium to higher cost cards. That’s right; this is one of those cases whereby choosing quality over quantity works in your favor.
Tip 2. Read the Fine Print
The devil, as they say, is in the details. This couldn’t be more fitting advice when it comes to scratch cards. You probably skip reading the small print when you buy an electronic device or take a loan, but it’s something that can come bite your back if things go south.
By reading the fine print, you will get to know your odds of winning on that particular scratch card. What is the minimum allowable bet amount? What’s the maximum payout you can expect? What requirements do you have to meet to be eligible for the jackpot?
As you can see, it makes a lot of sense to carefully read the small print. This will help decide if the scratch is best for short or long odds.
Tip 3. Stick with old scratch card/ tickets
True, no one wants to keep a memento of something that’ll remind you of a loss. However, sometimes you can make a mistake. You can throw away a ticket that you read wrong.
Keep you scratch cards so you can go through them when you are free. Is there a particular brand of tickets that seem to be non-paying? Which type of scratch cards has been “good” to you?
Here’s another good reason why you shouldn’t trash your “losing tickets.” There are some cases in which the jackpot is never won. In such a scenario, the operator might decide to pick a winner of the jackpot from the “loser pool.” That could you!
Tip 4. Purchase in Bulk
One strategy used by pro lottery players is to purchase their cards in bulk. This means that you garner 5-8 scratch cards for the same game in one shopping trip. Why not buy one each time you go to the shop?
It turns out your odds of winning go up when you purchase a number tickets in a row. The bulkier your bundle, the more scratch cards you will have, and the more likely you will land on a winner.
Tip 5. Check all your losing tickets by submitting them officially
This goes hand-in-hand with tip # 3. The only way you can be certain that you haven’t won is to make sure that your scratch card is officially checked.
Sometimes errors occur, whether during printing, distribution or when you are scratching the card. If there’s a missed winning combination or any other type of error, there’s always a way that you can be compensated for your trouble. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Tip 6. Stick to one favorite game
This may not seem plausible considering that there are oodles of scratch card games out there. However, it makes plenty of logical sense if you think critically about it. The more cards of the same game you buy, the better your chances of winning. Think about it this way: every loss you make means one fewer losing card in the pool.
Tip 7. Go for high RTP Scratch Card Games
Online scratch cards may pay instantly, but it’s all about patience too. If you are willing to stay the course, it is crucial that you stick to games with high RTP.
The higher the RTP, the lower the house edge, and the more likely that you will land a big payout or even a major jackpot.
Tip 8. Snap up scratch card casino bonuses
If you thought casino bonuses are restricted to traditional games like online slots, then you are mistaken. Numerous online casinos offer lucrative bonus offers on their selection of scratch cards. These offers are designed to make playing scratch card games more enjoyable and to help you boost your bankroll.
As with any casino bonus, it’s important to watch out for ridiculous terms and conditions, especially wagering requirements. Make sure the bonus is valid for the scratch card game you want to play.
Although bonuses specific to scratch cards are rare, new customers and existing players are still in for a surprise. You should look for welcome packages, no deposit bonuses, and match bonuses to start playing scratch cards on the right foot.
Tip 9. Opt for the most popular games
From experience, well-established and popular scratch card games are known to pay more and often. Isn’t that one of the reasons they are the most sought-after?
The best way to fish out popular scratch card games is to go through our selection, read expert reviews, and seek recommendations from your fellow players.
Tip 10. Keep an eye on your bankroll
As a general rule of thumb, nothing should come before bankroll management in all matters related to online gambling. This includes scratch cards.
Despite the fact that each online scratch card is cheap, the cost can add up pretty quickly if you keep on losing. That’s why you need to stick to good bankroll management strategies:
Plan your bankroll well ahead of the game: to do this, you must be able to put aside the amount you can afford to lose for a whole session. After deciding your bankroll amount, you must ensure that the funds are enough for the scratch card games you are planning to play.
Set limit: Make sure to set the win limit and the loss limit. Don’t stop there; make sure to stick to your limits. If you have reached your loss limit, for instance, don’t hesitate to log off your casino account and take a breather.
On the other hand, be content with the winnings you have earned. If you continue playing after hitting your win limit, you might end up burning through all your winnings.
Don’t focus too much on the jackpot: unless you have a bottomless bankroll, you should not overindulge on jackpot plays. If you focus too much on the jackpot, you will lose sight of small wins that could help stretch your bankroll further.
Start with small bets: By betting small at first, you will get a feel for the game and hone your winning strategy. The last thing you want is to run through your bankroll before you reach your “sweet spot.”