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Scratchcards for sale when the jackpot has already been won

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Is it fair for Camelot to keep selling scratchcards when the top prizes have already been won?


Lottery promoter Camelot stands accused of misleading British punters, following reports that some scratchcards remain on sale even after all their jackpots have been won.

It couldn't be you!

Producing five winners every second, or close to 158 million prizes per year, scratchcards are among Britain's most popular form of flutter.

The prizes available depend both on game designs and prices of scratchcards. There are no fewer than 35 different scratchcards in circulation, with prizes ranging from £5,000 to £4 million and cards costing between £1 and £10 apiece.

However, as you can see from this prize table published by Camelot, all of the top prizes for some games have already been won. For example, there are no jackpot-winning cards left for these two games:

Game

Top

prize

Top prizes

left

Card

cost

Happy Christmas

£5,000

None

£1

£100,000 Cash

£100,000

None

£2

Of course, with no top prizes remaining, the attraction of these games to hopeful gamblers is very limited. Yet these £1 and £2 scratchcards are still being sold, despite the absence of jackpots.

When criticised for its decision to keep these cards on sale in shops, supermarkets, post offices and other Lotto outlets across the UK, Camelot defended its position. It argued that it is quite legal for these cards to continue to be sold, despite the fact that their biggest payouts are now nothing more than false promises and pipe dreams.

A whole Lotto trouble

Personally, I think it's high time Camelot overhauled its procedures by taking steps to withdraw and replace scratchcard games as soon as the big prizes have been claimed. Otherwise, advertising a top payout of £100,000 with a zero chance of winning strikes me as false advertising.

After all, players buying '£100,000 Cash' cards can now win only between £2 and £5,000. Indeed, Advertising Standards has said it will investigate if consumers complain.

Obviously, in order to keep interest in scratchcards fresh, Camelot constantly launches new cards, with the latest game, '£100,000 Yellow', the 583rd in a long line of games stretching back to their launch in March 1995. However, it seems to me that Camelot should devote equal efforts to clearing obsolete stock from retailers, so that punters aren't misled into buying tickets for games that they cannot possibly win.

How to dodge 'dead' scratchcard games

To avoid falling foul of 'dead' scratchcard games with no top prizes left, be sure to view the latest games and prize statuses.

Here you can see that, for instance, that there are 28 £100,000 prizes still to be won on the '£100,000 Yellow' game, offering plenty of chances to win a hundred grand. At the other end of the scale, there remains a single £80,000 prize to be won on the Christmas 2012 'Snow me the Money' game.

By the way, if you fancy winning that biggest-ever scratchcard prize of £4 million, then you'd be better off playing '£4 Million Black' (four top prizes remaining) rather than '£4 Million Blue' (only two left). Likewise, 'Bingo Blue' with 11 prizes of £300,000 looks a far better bet than '7 x Lucky' with just two prizes of £70,000 left.

A grim gamble

I should point out the best way to bet on scratchcards is not to buy them at all, because they are a famously bad gamble. First, your chance of winning a jackpot on any given game is as high as three million to one, which makes a big win incredibly unlikely. 

Second, only half (50%) of scratchcard ticket money is returned in prizes. With scratchcard sales totalling £14.8 billion from March 1995 until the end of 2011, British punters have collectively lost £7.4 billion from gambling that 'it could be them'.

More on gambling:

How to win more from the lottery

How to win the lottery...twice!

Cost of playing National Lottery to double

Play the lottery for free!

New T-Mobile and credit union lottery scams

Don't fall for this gambling tipster scam

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