Also known as scratch-off tickets, scratch games, scratchies or instant lottery games, scratchcards have been available to buy from authorised retailers around the world since American computer scientists, working with Scientific Games Corporation, developed the technology in the 1970s.
Scratchcards are simple to play and very popular because they are usually cheap and provide instant gratification. All you need to do is pick the game you’d like to play and pay for it. You will be presented with a card which has a thin film, usually latex, concealing the information beneath it. Most players scratch off the covering of the game by using a coin. As the concealed information becomes visible, you will find out whether you have won or not. The message will clearly display whether you have struck lucky - after that, it’s up to you to claim any prize you might be owed.
In the UK, there are various types of scratchcards sold by the National Lottery through retail outlets. Each game will have a different design as well as different prizes on offer. Some scratchcards offer rewards going into the millions of pounds, and the National Lottery will provide information on how many top prizes are still available for each game so you can check to see which cards still provide the opportunity to win big.
Like lottery prizes, scratchcard prizes must be claimed within a certain amount of time; in the UK, you have 180 days from the announced date of closure for the game to claim a scratchcard prize. Prizes worth up to £100 can be claimed from retailers, meaning that you can pay to play, scratch off a winning message and walk away with extra money in a matter of moments.
If you want a better chance of winning on scratchcards, there are a few strategies you can use. Buying more games at one time is one of them, but keep in mind that this approach can quickly become expensive. Always set a limit as to how much you are willing to spend and stick to it. You could buy more games that are less expensive to keep your budget in order, but these do not usually offer the huge prizes that can be found on other scratchcards.
You can also look for scratchcards which offer better odds of winning a prize on a single game. This will not necessarily guarantee that you will win the top prize, but it does improve your chances of seeing a cash return.
Scratchcards have the power to transform players’ lives in a moment, bestowing them with prizes that can rival those of traditional lottery games. In 2014, Warrington man Simon Rustage won on a Mega Rich scratchcard and was initially delighted when he thought he had pocketed £250,000. However, when he contacted National Lottery officials the next day, he soon discovered that he would also receive the same £250,000 amount every year until 2029, pushing the total value of his prize to £3.75 million.
An anonymous man from Burnley also won £4 million in 2014 to become one of Britain’s biggest scratchcard winners. Shop worker Mohammed Ikramm later revealed that the customer had failed to win with the first £10 card he bought, but decided to pull out a £20 note and go for two more cards. He got nothing with his next card, but the last rewarded him with a record-breaking windfall.
There are some players who just love to collect cards and are less worried about winning prizes. Dave Mannix made the news in 2014 when it emerged that he had bought over 100,000 scratchcards since they were first put on sale 20 years earlier. Many of the cards he had not even scratched off and was happy to let expire, and instead he had a designated room in his Cheshire house with specially-marked boxes.
While Mannix just liked collecting cards, most players will enjoy the buzz of scratching them off themselves to find out in a matter of seconds whether they have won big. Online scratchcards are an alternative for anyone who wants to play instant games, but offline scratchcards are likely to keep getting snapped up for many years to come as they offer the chance to earn lots of money instantly.
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