Scratch lottery ticket quesiton
July 9, 2004 12:42 PM   Subscribe

What can people tell me about scratch lottery tickets? [more inside]

How are they produced? like in a factory somewhere? What is the stuff made of that you scratch off? They say there's a one in 5 chance of winning something on that true? Who determines what numbers or whatever go on the ticket under the scratch material? My guess is computer generation, anyone know better?
posted by Slimemonster to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
Response by poster: I should add, I'm asking from Seattle, WA. I don't know if other states even have scratch lotto...
posted by Slimemonster at 12:53 PM on July 9, 2004

Here's a company that makes them, including the various options (Scratch and sniff tickets !?!)
posted by milovoo at 12:54 PM on July 9, 2004

There are two things I know for sure about scratch n' win tickets here in Ontario

1) There's a code on the ticket under the bit you scratch off. For the complicated games, some people just scratch off the code. The prevailing wisdom is that a code with two triangles in it is a looser, but this is not necessarily the case, two triangles means the store shouldn't pay you, which means either it's a looser, or a big big winner.

2) whenever they come out with a "new" game and do a lot of advertising for it, they print a lot more winners than they do afterwards. It may average out to 1 in 5 over the life of the game, but your odds are a lot better at the beginning.
posted by Capn at 1:04 PM on July 9, 2004

In Minnesota, there is a much simpler code.

If you win $1, you will see the letters ONE scattered across the playing surface. $2 TWO up through HUM for $100. Any win higher than that and you have to redeem it at the lottery office, and there is no code.

Each game also has a little "how to play" brochure that lists the number of tickets that will be printed, and how many of them will win $1, $2, etc. up through the jackpot. You could verify the odds through that, assuming you trusted that all the tickets would be printed properly.
posted by Coffeemate at 1:18 PM on July 9, 2004

I just have to ask whether it's really "HUM" or if that was a typo?
posted by smackfu at 2:25 PM on July 9, 2004

In Pennsylvania, there's a series of numbers on the top of each scrach area that tells you instantly if you won. Yes, you have to scratch to see the numbers. The code, for anyone who cares, is that the numbers in parentheses is the prize amount.

For example:
01093(1)2919023 means $1.
932(1)4(0)419842 means $10.
3(T)24(I)87(C)412 means you won a free ticket. Don't see that anymore though.
posted by ALongDecember at 2:36 PM on July 9, 2004

The numbers printed on the ticket are computer generated. Yes, they are specially selected to make you think 'Darn, I almost won!' The odds vary amongst types of ticket, but it's quite likely that your local lottery coporation publishes those odds, if not on the back of the ticket itself, then on their website.

The various codes described above were put into place to allow stores that don't have direct computer connections to the lottery center to sell scratch tickets, anyway. They differ from lottery corporation to lottery corporation, though not usually amongst the types of tickets (as they need to be easy for teenaged, minimum wage, cash jockeys to remember).
posted by jacquilynne at 3:06 PM on July 9, 2004

Typo. $100 is HUN.
posted by Coffeemate at 3:48 PM on July 9, 2004

I worked for the company that made those scratch and sniff tickets, and although I wasn't around at that time, it is known as factory lore that the entire factory and office smelt like horrible, chemically instense coffee.

Other lottery ticket makers besides the one mentioned by milovoo: Scientific Games, and Obethur. These three companies are the three major companies, and produce tickets for most of the world. If you want to know the company that makes instant games for your area, look here for a list of companies and their instant ticket vendors.

Just to clear up on an oversight on one of the comments: They don't print more winners at the start of the game, all of the tickets are produced at once, and the odds of winning stay the same throughout the life of the game. What does happen is your expected monetary gain per ticket goes down a little bit (20%, you can figure this out by looking at one of the online odds for one game) as soon as the big winner is known to be claimed.
posted by sleslie at 8:57 AM on July 10, 2004

(oh, and the scratch and sniff tickets were normal at the retailer, its just not something you'd want hot off the presses.)
posted by sleslie at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2004

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