scratch off vs draw games
Tips & Tricks

Scratch-offs vs. Draw games

Is it better to play scratch-offs or go for lottery games with drawings? That depends.

The lottery is a game of luck. Whether you participate in draw games such as Powerball or Mega Millions or get scratch-off tickets (also known as instant games, scratch cards or scratchers) is a purely personal choice. Many love the thrill of potentially becoming a multi-millionaire, while others just hope to win some extra cash. So, is it better to play scratch-offs or the lottery? That depends on your risk tolerance and preference for the excitement of the game.

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The odds of winning a top prize are significantly different between scratch games and lottery draw games. Scratch-off tickets can have better odds. However, the top prizes can be substantially larger for draw games than for scratchers. Let’s take a closer look at scratchers and how they compare to draw games in ticket price, prizes, and odds.

First, what’s the difference in game format? 

Scratch-off tickets are just as they sound: You scratch off the silver coating on your ticket to instantly find out if you’ve won!

Draw games are what you’re most likely familiar with (think Powerball, Mega Millions, Cash4life or Pick 3): You select a set of numbers and wait for the date of the official drawing to find out if your numbers match the numbers drawn. 

Learn how lottery drawings work.

Ticket Price

Whereas popular draw games such as Powerball or Mega Millions have a fixed cost of $2 per ticket ($3 with a multiplier add-on), scratch-off games come in a variety of costs ranging from $1 to $100 for a single ticket. 

The more expensive scratch tickets have a higher tiered prize structure, meaning the top prize is greater for a scratcher ticket you spent $100 on than it would be for a $1 ticket.

How to play Scratch-offs

So, wondering how to play scratch-offs? It might sound complicated since there are so many games available, and each game has a different way to win, but it’s actually pretty simple.

Scratch off the coating on the ticket with a quarter or fingernail. If the symbols underneath the silver portion match the requirements, you’re an instant winner. How much you win will vary from ticket to ticket and what is matched. But more on that below.

Scratch off winner
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What are the Odds?

While the odds of winning the popular draw game such Powerball are one in 292,201,338 for the top prize (because that's how many different number combinations there are in the game) the odds of winning the top prize on a scratcher ticket are much lower. They will vary, but they could be around one in 200,000 versus one in almost 300 million for Powerball. 

Here’s another difference between scratch offs and draw game odds. Ticket sales affect the odds for Scratchers but not for other lottery draw games which have fixed odds depending on the number of potential number combinations there are to win. 

When deciding what scratcher ticket to spend your lottery budget on, you may want to know what games have already claimed top prizes or how many top prizes remain. That’s because Scratchers offer higher chances of winning the top prize as more tickets are sold.

Here’s how it works: the lottery produces a fixed number of each Scratcher, and as tickets are purchased, the pool of potential top-prize winners decreases. Therefore, the odds of winning a top prize increase as the number of available tickets decreases. However, once a top-prize-winning ticket is bought, the odds of winning the remaining top prizes decrease because there are fewer such prizes left.

For more information about scratch-off odds of winning and to see what prizes have been won for a given ticket, visit your local state lottery website. Find your state lottery website easily by typing in your “state” plus “lottery” into the search bar of your favorite browser. There, you can search all the available lottery games for your state. You will find that not only are state lottery scratcher tickets providing better odds, but so do state lottery draw games. 

Check out our roundup of the best lottery game odds in your state.  

How to win on scratch-offs

How to win on scratch-offs will vary based on the game. But the overall premise of each game remains the same, The goal is to match a set of symbols a particular number of times to win a specific prize. There are a lot of theories out there about how to find a winning ticket, but it’s all about luck. Remember, it only takes 1 ticket to be a scratch-off winner!

Prize Structures

Prize structures vary from game to game. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing a local state draw game, a scratch-off game or a big draw game such as Mega Millions. The prize structure for scratch-off tickets will be described on the ticket. It will show you exactly what symbols need to be matched to win, along with the dollar amount to be won.

And don’t forget to check the remaining prizes for scratchers, which are also available on the state lottery website. This can help you decide if you still want to order a specific ticket. Once each prize level has the maximum number of winners, it’s gone. This could be the deciding factor when choosing between two scratch-off tickets.

State lotteries create new scratch cards regularly. If your ticket isn’t a winner, you may be tempted to throw it out. Hold on to it! Check your state lottery website to see if a second chance drawing is being held for your game using the ticket serial number from your non-winning ticket.

Powerball vs. Scratch-offs

Still wondering, is it better to play scratch-offs or the lottery? Let's look closer at scratch-offs versus Powerball as an example. The overall odds of winning a prize with Powerball is one in 24. While the odds of winning a prize with a scratch-off depends on the game, it’s possible to have odds as low as one in five or even lower. That’s much better than Powerball. 

While the idea of potentially winning hundreds of millions of dollars with Powerball is exciting, your overall odds of winning a prize are better with scratch-offs, even if the dollar amount doesn’t come anywhere close to that Powerball grand prize.

Ready to have some fun?

Scratch-off tickets are a great way to have some fun and win some cash. You can participate in draw games in 19 states using the Jackpocket Lottery app that even offers scratch tickets orders in Colorado and Texas. Order and scratch your official lottery scratch ticket right in the app and reveal instantly if you’ve won! 

Try your luck with Jackpocket today!

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