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Scratchcards for sale when the jackpot has already been won

Cliff D'Arcy
by Lovemoney Staff Cliff D'Arcy on 27 February 2013  |  Comments 3 comments

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

Scratchcards for sale when the jackpot has 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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Comments (3)

  • jonnie2thumbs
    Love rating 107
    jonnie2thumbs said

    So Camelot release a scratchcard series with a 1 million pound jackpot and the first card sold for a pound wins, and they withdraw the other cards?

    Yeah right - I can see that happening......

    Report on 27 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • PDB11
    Love rating 75
    PDB11 said

    Strictly, to see which card has the best chance of winning the top prize, you need to know how many unsold cards remain as well as how many top prizes.

    Claiming of a prize and announcement of the winner isn't instant. It can take days to propagate through the system. I don't see why there shouldn't be a rule that says as soon as the last valid claim for a top prize has been received, they have a week to withdraw the remaining cards from sale. (And make it so they can't extend this by taking longer to verify the validity of the card, for example)

    All the top prizes going in a day or two? That's a risk they'll have to take.

    Which, of course, means that the price of the card is going to be higher compared to the average winnings. Another reason not to play.

    On which subject, why is this filed under "Boost your income"? I would have put it in "Scams". I think it is wrong to regard gambling, such as scratchcards, as a means to boost your income, and LoveMoney shouldn't be making it look otherwise.

    The only reliable way to make money from gambling: get a job at the casino (or with Camelot, etc.).

    Report on 28 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • PoohBah
    Love rating 23
    PoohBah said

    I can certainly accept that there would be a delay of a week or so between the last major prize being claimed (for a given value of "major") and the remaining tickets being withdrawn. After all, Camelot not only have to be notified of the claim, they also have to verify it, and then contact all the sellers who might themselves be tardy in withdrawing the tickets from display.

    The biggest scam of all, IMO, is their assertion that simply returning your money (£1 for a £1 ticket, etc.) constitutes a "prize". I call it an insult.

    Report on 28 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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