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Scratch cards remain one of the most enduringly popular forms of gambling. Many casino games capitalise on this popularity by providing virtual equivalents of the paper cards you can buy in stores.
Some of these feature cool, interactive interfaces, bonus rounds and accumulators to add extra layers of excitement, while retaining the simplicity gamblers love. Scratch and sniff the wins!
Novices should start from the beginning, but feel free to jump in to any of our lessons.
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When it comes to casinos, scratch cards are as simple a game as you can find. Most of us will have at least once in our lives bought or played a scratch card. You scratch off a panel which reveals your mystery symbol or symbols, and if you can match that symbol(s) with the prize list, then you’ve gotten yourself a winner.
Some scratch cards are subtly different. For example, you may have a whole panel of symbols to scratch off, if you match three identical symbols, then you win the prize as indicated.
Online scratch cards work on precisely the same principle, except that of course all the scratching that is done is virtual.
Typically, you are presented with a prize amount panel, which you first scratch off. This will reveal how much you are going to win if you ‘scratch lucky’, as well as your lucky symbol. The second panel will contain a number of symbols that you are required to scratch off. If you can find your lucky symbol among the number from the bigger panel, then you’ve won.
All the scratching is performed virtually, with a virtual coin. Online casinos will not be held responsible if you damage your laptop screen, monitor, smart-phone or tablet by trying to scratch off the panels using a real coin.
Some other types of scratch cards will offer you a larger number of panels, and if you can find three identical symbols among them, you’re a winner.
When it comes to scratch cards online, you can either scratch off the panels one-by-one if you want to prolong the ecstasy, or you can click a button that will scratch all the panels off in one fail swoop.
Scratch cards are a relatively modern invention. The first ones were produced in 1974 by the US games company Scientific Games Corporation. The firm Astro-Med of Rhode Island, also in the US, was in receipt of the first US Patent to develop an instant scratch-off lottery ticket.
The majority of scratch cards throughout most of the world are manufactured by a mere two companies: the aforementioned Scientific Games Corporation and yet another US-based company, Pollard Banknote. Scientific Games have grown incredibly since their humble beginnings in 1973. The company has since expanded into all forms of internet gambling with the purchase of WMS Industries in 2013, and Bally Technologies a year later.
Real-world scratch cards are big business. It’s estimated that people in the US spend $60 billion on scratch cards annually.
Scratch cards are a popular ‘go to’ plot device in soap operas and lazy dramas. So, Kat and Alfie deserve a change in their fortunes in EastEnders – one scratch card later and they’re Albert Squares’ latest millionaires.
Meanwhile, the issue of scratch card addiction was explored in This Life, the hugely popular young adult drama of the 1990s. With little else going for him, former lawyer Egg (The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln) started to enjoy some scratchy success. Alas, it wasn’t long before he was gambling away the house keeping and earning the ire of his flatmates.
On the other hand, playing scratch cards is seen as a desperate last resort in the legal film drama A Civil Action. Here, William H Macy’s attorney – faced with losing his practice to the bank – seeks to keep his firm a float with a handful of cards and a ‘lucky’ coin.
It’s not all tears, though. No, in the Channel 4 sitcom Green Wing, put-upon would-be doctor Martin Dear (Karl Theobald) enjoys a brief moment of joy when he wins several grand on a scratchy purchased at a newsagents. If only he hadn’t borrowed money from the girl behind the counter to buy the thing in the first place…
Most online casinos carry scratch cards of some variety, although some sites prefer to call them ‘instant win’ games or ‘jackpot’ games.
Online scratch cards first appeared in 2010, but have failed to capture the gambling public’s imagination in the way that, say, online slots and online table games have. Enough people must continue to play them, though, as casinos continue provide them.
Some operators – such as Playtech – release scratch cards that tie-in with some of their online slots titles. In Playtech’s case, most of their ‘Marvel’ slots also have scratch cards, such as Wolverine, Daredevil and Captain America. The slots games and the scratch cards have the same basic graphics, which is something of a convenience when it comes to software development.