Updated August 2016
Scratchies enjoy massive popularity throughout the various states and territories of Australia, and it’s the fastest-growing form of lottery in the world. In fact, a recent study showed that Aussies spend $525 million annually on these paper-based cards. This page explains the scratchies phenomenon by state throughout Australia. We provide everything from a history of the game to the odds of winning with various tickets. Australian Gambling also provides information about online scratchcards, which are found in most Internet casinos.
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A scratchcard (or “scratchie”) is a small card made of a thin paper material. Australians also call these games “instants”, because you don’t have to wait for a draw. Players can find out the results the moment they purchase the cards. You’ll see gamblers taking out a coin and scratching off the ticket inside the store they purchased the card.
If a person wins a scratch game, they can redeem the card with the vendor where they purchased the card, except in rare cases. The exceptions are when the card reveals a sizable prize amount–more than what you would expect a local shop to have on site.
To reveal whether you won or lost, numbers or symbols are present on the card. The various markings are covered by a thin, gray acrylic which easily can be removed by scratching it with a coin or other solid material. The scratching motion is the obvious origin of their nickname.
When a punter purchases a card, they may scratch off the covering to see if they’ve won. In some cases, only certain areas may be scratched off, although most cards allow the player to uncover the entire surface area. A winning card usually reveals a row of matching numbers or symbols, most commonly arranged in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal order. There are exceptions, however, and some cards feature large grids with winning symbols scattered about the game surface.
While Australians routinely refer to these items as scratchies, they are known by a variety of names around the globe. Fans of the game travelling abroad should be on the lookout for the following: scratch tickets, scratch-offs, scratchers, instant games, instant lotteries, scratch-its, scratch-and-wins, and scratch games. In foreign countries, you’ll find scratch tickets most everywhere, but also exotic varieties of instant games. In the United States, instant scratch games are sold in convenience stores, but other types of instants are sold in bingo halls. These counterparts to the scratch-off require a tab to be removed, so Americans call them pull-tabs, breakopens, strip tickets, Nevada games, and “pickle games”.
Aussie cards are available in several different denominations, but the most common are $1.10, $2, $3, $4, $5, and $10. Lottery companies throughout Australia may share the same types of cards, but a ticket purchased in one state or territory may not be redeemable in another.
Multiple companies sell tickets in Australia. Tattersall’s (or Tatts), which owns the Golden Casket Lottery, sells scratch cards in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. The highest prize offered is AUD $250,000 tickets. Victoria and Tasmania also allows Intralot Australia to sell instants, which are given the name “Lucky Tix”. These cards are sold for $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, and $10 amounts. The highest prize from Intralot Australia scratchies is $500,000.
At any given time, you’ll find about a dozen different scratchie types for sale in New South Wales. The jackpot among NSW instants is $250,000. These tickets are sold by NSW Lotteries. In South Australia, SA Lotteries sells scratchies. The top prize for SA Lotteries is $300,000, though an additional $75,000 jackpot is offered once per year. In Western Australia, Lotterywest sells instant lotto tickets. The top reward offered is $300,000.
People interested in playing the lottery might wonder why they should gamble on instant lotto tickets. Among that segment of the gaming public which prefers the scratchies, here are some of the most common positives associated with this type of lottery gambling.
A Variety of Options – With a regular lottery, you just pick your numbers and hope for the best. Scratch cards offer a wider range of themes and art designs. Some of them invoke ideas from the pop culture or sports world. Each year, the companies that make cards create dozens of new styles in order to keep their customers interested.
Range of Denominations – The scratchies are scalable to various levels of commitments. It’s common to find cards of six different values, with the more expensive options offering larger potential payouts. This means that people can enjoy the game while playing the denomination that meets their budget.
Instant Gratification – When you buy a lottery ticket, you have to wait until the drawing to find out if you’re a winner. There’s no tedious wait with scratch cards, as you can pull a coin out of your pocket, scratch off the acrylic film, and immediately learn the results. With the draws, you might lose your ticket or have it stolen before you know whether you won.
Easy to Find and Buy – Scratch cards are available at thousands of locations throughout Australia, including pharmacists and newspaper vendors. When you’re in the mood to play, you won’t have to look far. Scratchies can be part of your daily routine, like reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. People who worry about gambling habits make the same point, of course.
Fun – With colourful designs and a variety of themes, scratchies are a lot of fun to play. They’re also easy to understand, so players of all ages can dive right in without being overwhelmed by complicated rules.
The first computerized instant lottery tickets were developed in the United States in 1974 by a scientist and retail promotions specialist working for Scientific Games Corporation. The game was slow to take off at first, but a few decades later it had grown to become one of the most popular punting options on the planet.
Currently, there are two major manufacturers of scratch-off tickets in the world. The first, Pollard Banknote, has locations in the United States and Canada. Scientific Games Corporation is also still around, and they have facilities in Brazil, Canada, Germany, the UK, Chile, Australia, and the United States.
Scratchies come in a wide variety, but this section explains some of the basic types. Most of these are taken from examples found in South Australia and New South Wales, but cards in other states and provinces should be similar.
$1 Loose Change – If you find the same dollar amount three times on the card, then you win that sum of money. Prizes range from a free ticket to $20,000, and the odds of winning are 1 in 4.60.
Money Train – A $5 card that requires you to scratch both the “your numbers” and “lucky numbers” panels. Match a number in both panels and win that amount of money. A total of 400,000 tickets have been issued for sale, and 95,330 of these are winners. The top prize is $200,000.
Royal Edition – This $15 card has sections for “lucky numbers” and “your numbers.” When numbers in both sections match up, you win that dollar amount. There’s also a bonus game panel where you can win additional money by finding the same symbol three times. The odds of winning are 1 in 3.24, and prizes range from $15 (74,000 are available) to $1,000,000 (only 1 is available).
Roaring 20s – A $1 game that requires players to reveal the nine covered spaces. If you uncover three red diamond symbols in an unbroken horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line, then you win the top prize of $20,000. Uncovering three identical dollar amounts in a row wins that amount of money. Finally, you can win a free ticket by uncovering three “$1 Free Ticket” symbols vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. One-million of these tickets were released for sale, and 260,756 are winners.
If you hold a winning card, claiming your winnings is almost as easy as getting the card in the first place. For winnings under $1,000, you can normally cash in the card where you purchased it. For larger sums of money, you’ll need to drop it in an envelope and send it to the appropriate company.
Whatever you do, don’t lose the card. You must have the original in order to cash it in, and someone else who gets their hands on your winning card can just as easily walk away with your money.
Online gamblers should know this is not a game style restricted to brick-and-mortar operators. Scratchies or scratchcards, are so popular in offline gaming that casino software companies decided they needed to produce an Internet version of these games. That’s the origin of the online scratchies you’ll see offered at most online casinos.
With online scratch offs, the same basic game play is used. You pay for the right to play, choosing a type of game you want to play. A number of brightly coloured scratch options are shown on the screen. Using the point-and-click method used in other online gaming, players make their selections. The results are revealed. If you win, the money goes to your casino account and you’re given the option for a new game.
Internet scratchies play as fast as you want them to, which means you can see a lot more action than you would in an offline environment. Also, you don’t have to deal with the mess of getting acrylic all over the place. Results are determined by a random number generator, much like they would be in online blackjack, roulette, or pokies. Several good websites accept Australians and allow gamblers to use real money Australian dollars. Below are a couple of those sites.
Platinum Play Casino offers 11 online scratchcards you can play for real cash. The complete list of games includes:
Platinum Play is one of the Fortune Lounge network of casinos, which are owned by Digimedia Limited and powered by technology from Microgaming, the leader in online gambling software.
When players register an account at PlatinumPlay, they are given 1500 free spins on the electronic pokies. While you don’t have to accept this offer, it’s a chance to win up to AUD $100 in free money. Visitors can fund their account and start playing the online scratchies instantly, if they prefer.
Vegas Palms Casino is another site owned by Digimedia Ltd. Like its sister site, VegasPalms uses Microgaming software and caters to Australians by allows people to play using real Australian dollars. Vegas Palms offers a 200%, $100 bonus for people who make at least a $50 payment on their first deposit. Add $50 to your account and you’ll have $150 for gambling.
Vegas Palms Casino offers punters 34 online scratchcards using the instant play Flash option and 15 online scratchies if you choose to go with the full casino download. All eleven of the scratchies offered at Platinum Play are available. Titles like Dawn of the Bread, Foamy Fortunes, Beer Fest, and Crypt Crusade are offered, too. Most of these allow you to gamble with the full casino download or the instant play version of the game. Crypt Crusade is only available as a no-download Flash game. “Game Set and Scratch” is an Internet scratch cards available as the Flash game, too. Other games you can enjoy using the instant option or the fully downloaded casino software include names like Bingo Bonanza, Bowled Over, and Ballistic Bingo.
Some of the last few games mentioned my make you wonder about the connection to bingo. Most of these games mimic the scratch cards you can buy at lottery vendors throughout Australia. A handful of these games are called instant bingo games, though the game play hardly diverges from the scratchies in the way they’re played. You’ll even hear of a few instant scratch games compared to keno, but unless the 80-ball option is offered, you won’t see much of a connection.