Introduction to Scratch Cards

Scratch cards are popular gambling games that are widely available in shops and online. Easy to play and affordable to purchase, they’re proliferation continues unabated as operators keep finding new ways of expanding on a tried and trusted format.

In their most basic form, scratch cards require covered boxes to be rubbed or scratched away to reveal numbers and sometimes letters. Should these match pre-determined patterns or sequences the card-holder wins a prize.

How Online Scratch Cards Started

Traditional scratch cards started to appear in the 1970s when they were sold as complimentary games to US state lotteries. The first was released by the Scientific Games Corporation and was called the Instant Game. Then in 1987, a Rhode Island-based company by the name of Astro Med registered a patent for instant ‘scratch-off’ cards which bear a very close resemblance to the types of games we see today.

The development of scratch cards in the UK was helped significantly by the introduction of the National Lottery in 1994. Like its American counterparts, lottery operator, Camelot began selling scratch cards, or ‘instant’s as they’re known, alongside actual lottery tickets. Although they also began life as complimentary games, they’ve become massively popular with the British general public and are for many, more appealing than the lottery itself.

Online Scratch Cards

It’s quite difficult to pinpoint exactly when online scratch cards first appeared. However, it’s generally agreed that their emergence coincided with the development of web technologies such as Macromedia Flash and Java in about 2010. Although fairly primitive by today’s standards, these early examples paved the way for the elaborate, immersive scratch card games we enjoy today.

Online vs Traditional Scratch Cards

Traditional scratch cards offer a simplicity that’s appealing to many punters. They’re also more accessible than other forms of gambling which often require a degree of skill. Unfortunately, most offline versions tend to be quite similar in terms of game-play and follow a familiar format - even National Lottery-sanctioned instants are quite limited in scope.

This is why a lot of people prefer to play scratch cards online. To begin with, there’s a more diverse range to choose from in comparison to your local supermarket or newsagent. The prizes are often bigger as well with certain games also including extra features such as bonus rounds.

Playing scratch cards online also means that you have the chance to win bigger prizes. And for many websites, wins are rewarded with instant pay-outs, irrespective of the amount.

We could of course continue to wax lyrical about the benefits of virtual scratch cards. But there is a limit - some websites, we won’t say which, actually suggest that the best online scratch cards are those which allow you to play on the go. Um, is this not possible with cardboard scratch cards, then? Anyway, moving swiftly on…

Rules of Playing Scratch Cards

Like any gambling game, there are rules to be observed when playing scratch cards. For example National Lottery instants come with numerous stipulations of which one of the most important relates to age restrictions (16+). Customers are also strongly advised to check the condition of their card upon purchase – otherwise any winnings deriving from that card may become void should it be damaged. And it goes without saying that if you try to claim a prize without presenting your winning scratch card, you’ll receive nothing other than your marching orders. Similar rules apply for online variants when it comes to age restrictions. Some websites also require players to register before they can play.

How Are Online Scratch Cards Played?

Although the concept of playing scratch cards remains the same on the web, there are few things to keep in mind. As with any online game, you’ll be presented with a game interface which you’ll need to interact with. However, these tend to be very simple. For most games, it’s merely a case of clicking a coin selector in order to choose the size of your stake and then decrease or increase the value. Apart from these minor differences, the basic principles remain the same. Reveal hidden numbers or letters to match a pattern or sequence of pre-selected digits or symbols to win a prize.

Tips for Playing Scratch Cards Online

Tips for play scratch cards online tend to be the same for all online gambling games. First of all, set a limit for the amount you’re prepared to stake. Although the game can be great fun, things can also get out of hand rather quickly. And if it should stop being fun, then you’d be well advised to take a break or stop altogether. Frustration often results in poor decision-making which tends to empty wallets and bank balances quite urgently.

Why Are Scratch Cards So Popular?

Scratch cards tick many boxes for punters. The game offers suspense, excitement and instant gratification should you win. It’s the same with both off and online scratch card versions. The odds of winning are also much shorter than many other forms of gambling with certain games offering as little as 3 to 1.

Best Online Scratch Card Games

What constitutes the best online scratch cards is a matter of subjective opinion. For the purpose of this article however, we’ll assume that the best ones offer the most favourable chances of winning as well as the most generous prizes.

Merlin’s Millions seems to fit both of the above requirements. Featuring a top prize of £200,000, the game requires players to match three symbols to win. The only caveat is that you have to stake, ahem, £200 to be in with a shot of the jackpot.

Deal or No Deal is one of the most popular scratch cards online in the UK. All that you have to do is unveil five £25,000 symbols to win that very amount. The game follows a similar format to the celebrated television show and requires players to either settle with what they’ve already won or gamble everything on a ‘lucky’ box. The scratch card game is actually a clever interpretation of the classic game-show.

Emmerdale: Road to the Wool-Pack (ERTTWP) – we just had to include this one. Named after the cult TV show, ERTTWP will either have people throwing themselves into the nearest septic tank or donning their wellingtons to try their luck at what amounts to a pretty entertaining scratch card game. The object of the game is astoundingly simple (rather like the TV series). Match three symbols and you win a prize which potentially includes a 1000x multiplier

Iron Man 2 – looking to save the world from nuclear meltdown by gambling? Happily, Playtech have made this entirely possible with ‘Iron Man 2 Scratch’. Although it sounds as if our titular hero has developed a bad case of eczema, fear not! The title actually refers to a scratchcard tie-in which requires you to match 3 reactor symbols horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Should this death-defying feat be achieved, you’ll be £10 richer and the world will be…..oh forget it. It’s a good game, give it a go.

If you are not a fan of Scratch cards, then you can check our Mobile casino page, Online roulette page or the slots page for other fun filled casino games.

For those of you still struggling with the concept of scratch cards we’ve included a quick FAQ to help.


1. How Does a Scratch Card Work? Real scratch cards feature concealed boxes made from paper stock and tin foil. Players are required to scratch this material away to reveal numbers or digits. Most online scratch cards are written in either Flash or HTML5 and can be played within your web browser.

2. Are Scratch Cards and Lottery Tickets same? Uh, no. Lottery tickets require you to choose a set of numbers in the hope that they’ll be drawn from a wider pot. This isn’t the case with scratch cards which comprise pre-selected digits. Short of purchasing the card, the player has absolutely no say in whether they win or not.

3. What's the possibility of Winning? This depends entirely on the scratch card game. As mentioned, some offer odds of as little as 3 to 1. However, it usually follows that the actual prize is smaller. Nevertheless, the game offers a far better chance of winning something in comparison to gambling games such as lotteries.

4. What are the Age guidelines for playing this game? For most UK scratch card games, you have to be at least 16 years of age. This also applies to Lottery instant scratch cards.

5. How do I know if I Have Won? Most scratch cards feature simple rules so it should be relatively easy to tell if you’ve won. If in any doubt, just check the back of the scratchcard which should provide plenty of information about winning requirements.

6. What Chances do I have of Winning? A significantly better chance than winning the lottery shall we say! If you want to improve your odds then buy scratch cards in bulk. You’ll have to part with a significant sum but your chances of winning big will be enhanced.

7. Can I get 50 free spins no deposit offer for scratch card games? No, 50 free spins no deposit offers are not available for scratch cards.