what happens if you win a scratch off

One Thing You MUST Do to Win Big With Lottery Scratchers

A Legit Way to Boost Your Odds of Hitting a Scratch-Off Jackpot

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Are you planning on buying some lottery tickets for yourself or as a gift for a loved one? If you pick up lottery scratchers at your local convenience store or gas station, you know that you’re probably going to end up winning no more than a buck or two, maybe $20 if you’re lucky. But of course, you hope to win one of those big jackpots with an advertised value of $10,000, $50,000, or more.

But did you know that there’s a chance that you could buy a scratcher ticket that advertises a big grand prize — and have absolutely no chance of winning that prize? Would you still buy that scratch-off ticket if you knew the odds of winning more than a few bucks weren’t just low but zero? Especially if other games had better chances of a jackpot payout?

Before you buy a lottery scratcher, you must do one important thing: research which game you are going to play.

Why You Need to Do Research on Lottery Scratchers

Lottery scratchers are distributed to retailers in large rolls, and each roll is guaranteed to have a certain number of winners. Those winning scratch-off prizes will have values, some smaller, some bigger.

The lottery scratchers usually advertise grand prizes like a “$1 Million Merry Millions” jackpot. But unless the game has just been released, there’s a chance that someone else had already won that jackpot.

If the winning scratch-off ticket has already been redeemed, the lottery knows that the big prize is gone, but they still sell tickets to that game because smaller prizes are still available.

Nothing prevents the lottery from legally selling those tickets, even if it involves advertising a prize that’s no longer available.

Not fair? Well, even if the grand prizes are gone, there may still be attractive prizes available to you. But if you don’t want to settle for a smaller win, a little bit of research will ensure that you have the best chances of winning a grand prize.

How to Research Your Lottery Scratchers

To make buying lottery tickets more attractive, the state lottery websites publish information about which scratch-off prizes are still available. While there’s a small chance that someone has bought a winning ticket but hasn’t redeemed it yet, checking the lottery website before you buy gives you the best odds of a big win.  

Here’s how to find the information you need:

  • Visit the lottery website for the state where you’re buying the tickets
  • Look for the scratchers or scratch-off section
  • Look for a break-down of all the different games and the prizes they have remaining
  • Pay attention to when the records were last updated. If you can, try to buy shortly after the lottery releases an update so you’re using the most recent information.

Once you know which prizes are still available, you can decide which game you want to play based on factors like the ticket price, the size of the prizes being offered, and how many prizes are still available.

What If You Can’t Check the Website?

If you’re buying tickets spontaneously or you don’t have access to the internet, you might not be able to check the state lottery’s website. So what can you do to boost your odds of choosing a big winner?

First, you’ll want to look at the odds of winning versus the payout.

A rough rule of thumb is that scratchers that cost more money have better odds of winning and higher prize payouts.

If you have time to do a quick calculation, you can also use the risk to reward ratio to calculate where your best chances lie.

Another thing you can do is to look for games that offer a guaranteed winner per roll of tickets. This means that somewhere in the roll, there is a winning ticket (although it won’t tell you whether it’s been claimed or not).

Next, you can ask which number the next ticket on the roll has before you buy. Although this may vary by state, rolls are often numbered sequentially starting with 000, so if the ticket number is low, it’s less likely that one of the winning tickets from that roll is already gone.  

If you find a low-numbered roll with a guaranteed prize, you might want to buy a series of tickets from that roll. Each non-winning ticket you buy from the same roll gets you, theoretically, closer to a winning ticket. Switching games, however, means that the losing tickets won’t necessarily bring you any closer to a winning ticket.

Controversial – but successful – lottery player Richard Lustig recommends always buying at least 10 tickets from the same roll to improve your odds.

Finally, you can ask the store clerk whether they’ve had a recent win from that roll. The clerk might not know, or might not be willing to answer. But if they do say that they’ve had a winner recently, your odds might be better if you pick a different game.

By taking a bit of time to strategize before you buy, you can raise your odds of winning a jackpot through a lottery scratch-off.

If you buy lottery scratchers hoping to win big prizes, you're setting yourself up for disappointment if you don't do this one thing first.

What Happens if You Find a Winning Lottery Ticket?

Have you ever wondered whether that crumpled lottery ticket you see on the street might just be a winner? What would happen if you took it to a lottery office and it turned out to be worth a fortune?

We look at some real-life stories of people who have done just that. The results were not always positive, but some people really have managed to turn trash into treasure. Read on to see what happened when they tried to claim lottery wins without buying a ticket and discover how you can legally claim a cash bonanza from somebody else’s purchase.

What would you do if you found a pound coin on the street? How about a £50 note, or £100? Well, what about if you picked up a discarded lottery ticket which turned out to be worth a fortune? Not everybody can resist that much temptation…

Lucky Find in Supermarket Sweep

Amanda and Michael Stacey believed that the old adage ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ would hold true when they found a winning lottery ticket. While doing her weekly supermarket shop in Swindon, Amanda saw a lottery ticket on the floor and picked it up on the off-chance that it would prove to be a lucky one. Little did she know that her spur of the moment act would end up with her appearing in court and with her name splashed all over the papers.

Upon checking the ticket, the Stacey’s discovered that it was worth £30,000, and they promptly set about spending their unexpected windfall. However, the original purchaser – Dorothy McDonagh – was able to prove that she had bought the ticket in question. By the time the matter went to court Amanda and Michael had already spent £15,000 of the bounty. They pleaded guilty to theft and fraud and were ordered to pay out the remaining £15,000 to Ms McDonagh. As the lottery refused to pay out a further amount, both parties were left feeling hard done by: the couple had a criminal conviction to their name while Ms McDonagh never got half of what she felt was due to her.

Seems that ‘finders keepers’ rule doesn’t always work in the court of law.

Leaving No Leaf Unturned

The story of landscaper Marvin Martinez ended a little more happily; for him if not for the original owner of a winning scratch card. While bagging up leaves in New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he found an unscratched and unsigned scratch card among the piles of greenery. Marvin said “I still don’t know what made me pick it up”, but he was certainly glad that he did as scratching the card revealed three numbers showing he had won “$1,000 a week for life”.

Mr Martinez contacted the lottery organisers to explain how he had come upon the ticket, and they told him that an investigation would have to be carried out. The 27-year-old put the matter to the back of his mind, thinking nothing would come of it, but this was one case where the rule of ‘finders keepers’ really did apply. Since nobody came forward to claim the prize after one year, as per the rules of the game he was confirmed as the rightful winner. Marvin took a lump sum payment of $515,612 – after taxes were deducted – and planned to use the money to buy a house and take an overdue honeymoon in Miami with his new wife.

Homeless Man Finds Winning Ticket

John Michael Le Blancq had been living on the streets and in homeless shelters in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, when he thought that his luck had finally turned. The 58-year-old found a winning scratch card worth £200 and promptly used the money to pay for a one-way trip to Portsmouth in search of a new start. However, the owner of the ticket had taken the precaution of photographing it on her phone and reported that it had gone missing to the police. The unfortunate Mr Le Blancq was tracked down and in court was ordered to repay the £200 plus an additional £100 for the crime of ‘theft by finding’.

But this hard-luck story has a twist in its tail. Local gym owner Cameron Elliot heard about the incident and his Facebook post offering to pay the fine went viral. Jersey resident Kylie-Ann Ware was moved to open a JustGiving crowd-funding page and over £1,000 was raised by generous donors to help out Mr Le Blancq. His fine was paid and the surplus money was donated to the Jersey Shelter where John Michael had spent so many nights.

Trash into Treasure

Our next confusing case of a lost scratch card involved three different women laying claim to a million-dollar prize. Sharon Duncan was the original holder of this golden ticket, but when she had it scanned at a convenience store in Arkansas the read-out on the scanner said that it was not a winner. She discarded the ‘Diamond Dazzler’ scratch card in a trash-can full of unwanted lottery tickets and thought no more of it. However, local woman Sharon Jones was in the habit of collecting those tickets from the store in the hope of finding a winner. Finally, her scavenging was rewarded – to the tune of one million dollars. Or at least, that is what she thought.

The matter went to court, with the store manager Lisa Petriche also laying a claim to the fortune as she said there was a note saying tickets should not be removed from the bin in the shop. A judge ruled that Ms Duncan did not willingly give away $1 million and was misled by the scanner incorrectly reading the result. Unfortunately, Ms Jones had already spent $190,000 on paying debts, buying a truck and gifting money to her kids. Although the judge ordered unemployed Ms Jones to repay all of the cash, a confidential out-of-court settlement was eventually reached with the rightful owner, Ms Duncan. The store manager was found to have no claim over the cash, sign or no sign.

Dumpster Diving Yields a Reward

California resident Lorenzo Juarez had just split up with his partner and with his 39 th birthday coming he was feeling at a low ebb. Having been out of work for four years, he felt that he was due some good luck, and a trip to his local market in downtown Stockton was to lead to an upswing in his fortunes. Mr Juarez was waiting in line to make his purchase of some water when the customer in front of him started creating a fuss.

This customer was in an irate mood and starting tearing up a scratch card lottery ticket in front of the cashier, shouting “I don’t need the money!” before storming out. Lorenzo saw the man tossing the ripped-up pieces of the ticket into a dumpster behind the shop and didn’t waste any time in jumping in to try and retrieve them. Having collected as many pieces of the scratch card as he could find, Mr Juarez returned to the store. After an anxious wait as the cashier tried to locate the all-important winning numbers on the scraps of ticket, Lorenzo’s perseverance was rewarded, and he was able to claim the $500 prize.

Is It Legal to Claim a Prize from a Found Lottery Ticket?

When you buy a lottery ticket, one of the most common pieces of advice given is to sign the ticket as a way to confirm ownership. Most lottery organisers will do their best to try and confirm the real owner of a ticket and will be able to tell the time and date a ticket was purchased as well as the outlet it was bought in. If a lottery ticket was purchased by debit or credit card then it will be relatively easy to track down the winner, but if the ticket is unsigned and was bought by cash then it becomes altogether more difficult to claim that a lost ticket was yours.

As we saw from a couple of our stories above, trying to claim a lottery prize on a ticket you did not buy can leave you open to charges of fraud. It is quite a risk to assume that the original purchaser did not use a card and that it was possible for you to have bought the ticket at the store in question at a particular time. The best policy is to make a claim but to inform the authorities that you found the ticket and did not buy it yourself. You may just be as lucky as our leaf-collecting winner Mr Martinez and get to take home the riches if nobody else puts in a valid claim in time.

Instead of ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’, better to follow the advice of another old saying which affirms that ‘Honesty is always the best policy’!

Of course, when you bet on a lottery with Lottoland there is no need to worry about losing scraps of paper because we do not sell tickets. Every purchase is electronically recorded and you will be notified of any wins by email, whether they are large or small. Lottoland has paid out tens of millions in prizes to date – including a record-breaking €90 million to one lucky winner – so you know that you’ll never miss out on a big win when you bet online with us.

Ever wondered what would happen if you found a winning lottery ticket on the street and tried to claim it? Here are true stories of people who did just that! ]]>