Are Online Scratch-Offs Worth Playing for Real Money?

Keyboard and Scratch offs

Scratch-offs are incredibly popular with lottery enthusiasts. I’m sure many of us have thrown a $5 bill on the counter and scratched the ticket right there at the gas pump.

The games themselves can range from the classic “match three symbols” card to the more in-depth games that can frankly be difficult to know whether you won or lost.

Regardless of how overwhelming the odds are stacked against hitting one of the top prizes, scratch-offs provide a unique thrill for players. Because of its fun and quick nature, many online casinos and mobile apps have begun offering online scratch-off tickets.

Before you start transferring funds into online casinos, we need to answer one all-important question. Are online scratch-offs for real money even worth a shot?

What Are Scratch-Off Games?

The first iterations of instant win games were of the pull-tab variety. In the 1970s, scratch-offs were invented, and the lotteries have never been the same.  The first company to produce the early scratch-offs incorporated the laws of probability and math to ensure randomness. Massachusetts was the first to introduce scratch-offs as part of their lottery game program.

The scratch-offs became an immediate success with gamblers, and the tickets became an enormous revenue generator for the lotteries. Plus, the scratch-off tickets have enjoyed a significant facelift over the years. Many of the original variety had a simple “match three symbols” premise.

Lottery tickets today have much more to offer gamblers than just revealing three matching amounts or symbols. However, these are indeed still available and commonplace. Some scratch-off games are surprisingly engaging, with complicated systems of revealing a winning card. Such games are sometimes laid out like a crossword puzzle, where players must reveal the words. The more words you can find, the bigger your prize.

The rise of online scratch-offs has taken these games to heights that have never been imagined before the advent of the internet or smartphones. The online iterations offer just as much excitement as the cards you’d find at convenience stores. In fact, online scratch games are on the cutting edge of gaming technology, and they offer players a number of incredible benefits. Wherever the future of gambling takes us, scratch-offs are sure to be around for many years to come.

The fact is that they’ve never been easier to enjoy, and the addition of online scratch-offs has opened the door for scores of new players.

Online Scratch Games vs Retail Scratch-Offs

So, should you ditch the scratch-offs from the local corner store in favor of the new wave of online scratchers? Let’s not jump to that conclusion just yet. Still, the online version of your favorite way to gamble does hold some advantages. The most prominent and most evident favorable attribute of online scratch games is their level of convenience. Standard issue scratch-offs requires physically going to a location that sells lottery tickets.

In the past couple of years, kiosks have been popping up in grocery stores and big-box retailers. These kiosks mean you don’t have to stop into a convenience store to purchase tickets. They’ve also added scores of new players by making them readily available for those picking up groceries or picking out a new television.

Still, nothing can beat the convenience of playing scratch-offs from your laptop or smartphone. Having your tickets in the palm of your hand 24/7 means no more holding up the line at the convenience store or gas station.

Online scratchers also offer another fantastic feature. When you win, the funds automatically appear in your account. I had a college roommate who loved buying scratch-offs with the extra cash his parents would send every week. He was always searching the house for his latest winning ticket, so he could go cash it in.

I can’t express to you how common this is, but thousands of winning scratch-off tickets go unclaimed every year. Since the online scratch-offs are entirely digital and pay immediately, there’s no ticket to lose. Now, $500 is a substantial win for any lottery player. However, in many places, a win of more than $500 requires you to travel to a lottery center or mail in the winning ticket and get a check.

I shouldn’t need to point out how much of a burden this may be for some. These lottery centers may be over 30 miles away, then you’ll have to get to a bank to deposit the funds. It’s fair to assume that not all lottery players have a bank account. Some may not have a means of making the drive to cash in their ticket. That essentially forces them to mail in the winning ticket and merely hope for the best. Online scratch-offs don’t involve fussing with logistics in comparison to their cardstock cousins.

Weighing the Odds

When playing any lottery game, it’s crucial that you understand the odds. Your typical state lottery scratch-offs provide an overall odds of winning. The overall odds are the chances that players have to win any prize in the game. These odds vary from game to game, but they remain precisely the same for the individual game’s life.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that you’ll find the best odds on the higher-priced games.

For example, the Texas Lottery’s best game is “$750 Million Winner’s Circle.” The game has overall odds of winning at 1 in 2.88. Basically, better than 1 in 3 tickets is a winner. Now, the tricky part of the equation is that you aren’t guaranteed a winner if you buy three tickets. If you are one of the lucky winners, you aren’t guaranteed to win the top prize of $3,000,000 either. Still, any win will get your money back for that ticket.

You do have a decent shot at getting your $30 back. The problem with retail scratch-offs is that you’ll have to pay the higher-priced games to have the best odds. Online scratch-offs typically have better odds. The online casinos have far less overhead than the others providing scratch-offs. The printing bill alone can be tremendous, and you also have to factor in any distribution, lottery employees, or giving a decent cut to the retailers.

The odds on online scratch games can be as low as 1 in 2. Again, these will be for the tickets priced at $20 and above. However, many players prefer the lower dollar amounts for many of the same reasons why penny slots are so popular. The lower price point is where the online scratch-offs get the nod from most players. Many of the $1 scratch-offs you find at the local convenience store will give you 1 in 5 odds of winning.

The online scratch-offs at the same price point have overall odds of 1 in 4. That’s a huge difference and will dramatically impact your bankroll.

How to Play Online Scratch-Offs

There are several different ways to get into the game when it comes to online scratch-offs. For our purposes, we’ll focus on games where you can win real money by playing. A ton of online sites and mobile apps exist that will allow you to play scratch games. The first type of online scratch provider is mobile games. I use “games” in the most literal sense; these are games that you may download and play for free. The developer uses money from advertisers to payout winners.

You shouldn’t expect any significant jackpots. The sole purpose of these games is for fun and entertainment; it allows players to enjoy the excitement of scratch-offs without the financial liabilities.

Still, you could rack up a few bucks occasionally. The best part about these fun social games is that any win equals a profit. The scratch-offs you can buy from online casinos are the real heavy hitters. These games offer payouts much lower than the lotteries but give players better odds to win cash.

Most of the top prizes you’ll find on online scratch-offs max out around $5,000. These are games that have extremely friendly overall odds of winning. So, it would help if you raked in enough incremental wins to keep you chasing those dollars. You should note that the odds of winning the top prizes will be much lower than the smaller amounts.

Regardless of how you decide to play scratch-offs online, the gameplay is straightforward. You merely use your finger or mouse cursor to reveal the symbols or prizes. Many games have a simple way to reveal or scratch all. This feature speeds the games up and serves as an instant win choice.

Finding the Best Games

When it comes to finding the best online scratch-offs, you will find a ton of options. The research you do before you ever make a deposit will determine what your overall experience looks like. It’s best if you always consider things like the withdrawal process, customer service availability, and selection of games. Then, you can start shopping around for the best deposit bonuses.

Some online casino sites will allow you to try out some of the games before you make a deposit. That’s a great way to try out the site’s user interface and narrow down the games you enjoy.


Are online scratch-offs worth a shot? If you’re an ardent lottery player, the answer is probably “yes.” You already know that there are games with better odds, but you will find the best scratch-off odds online. Add the massive convenience factor, and the online scratch-offs become a no-brainer.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.