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Scratchcard Gambling

Published on: 04/08/2013

These ubiquitous pieces of card go by many names: scratch-off cards, scratch-and-win cards, instant win games or scratchers. This kind of betting is extremely simplistic, and it’s aspects are likely known to all. The card’s surface holds disclosed symbols; scratching this obscuring powdered metal that hides these symbols shows to the player a combination of either winning or losing. That’s all there is to it. Creating this device was however not so easy as playing it, and it demanded the mind of a mathematician coupled with the promotional flair of a businessman.

Creating a scratchcard is no simple matter: it requires an algorithm ensuring the results are truly random. The first scratch card was created by Dr. Koza. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science at the University of Michigan in 1964, when the discipline of this aspect of consumer betting was just taking off. Dr Koza earned a PhD in Computer Science in 1972. In 1973 he met Daniel Bower, and teaming up they built a company called Scientific Games Corporation.

Kozas’ skills were in the construction of the cards, while Bower’s were in the marketing side. This winning team took themselves to the Central Massachusetts Lottery commission, and presented them with their bold and audacious idea: they wanted the complicated and off putting pick six lotto game replaced with their instant win scratchcard.

After some initial doubts by the Lottery commission Bower convinced them with his convivial business personality, and the pair’s invention was bought and presented throughout the state. It was certainly a worthwhile endeavor: The average weekly income of the Lottery commission more than doubled, with profits rising from $1 million to $2.7 million per week. Thanks to their invention Bower and Kosa were rewarded as honorary charter fellows in the Lottery Industry’s hall of fame.

The success of their design was not lost on others: Michigan, Illinois, New York and Maryland had all designed similar cards by the mid 80’s. Cal Tigner created the very first plastic scratch card dispenser (named “take a ticket”), which was soon a familiar feature in Oregon. In 1995 businesses in the United Kingdom were joining in, with the National Lottery being the biggest participant. They were able to put out scratchcards that cost as little as ten pence, with top prizes pushing the £2 million mark

Most scratchcards are extremely simple in their design – and they are meant to be, for this very simplicity is aimed at drawing in customers. The companies want games that can be understood almost immediately, with the prospect of winning being a direct prospect. By far the most common type of scratchcard simply consists of three hidden symbols: the player removes a powdered metal layer (usually with a coin), and if they disclose three identical symbols they have won. Some cards have more than three symbols, enabling multiple winning possibilities.

The two largest manufactures of gaming scratchcards are Pollard Bankote and Scientific Games Corporation. There are a host of smaller companies, but these two take the lion’s share of the business. The only real rival in terms of revenues to these two companies is online virtual scratchcards.

The vast majority of online gambling sites now present a large array of virtual scratchcards. These look just like regular “real life” cards, featuring dazzling colors and enticing graphics, which are meant to allure the player to purchase and play them. The online casino site bet365 has more than fifty different cards, each individually named, such as Formula Won, Golden Balls, X-Factor, Golden Goal 3WOW, Zodiac, Jungle Joy and many others.

Other virtual scratchcards have been made to be played on people’s smartphones, opening up a whole new market. If the physical aspect of scratching the cards was ever an issue - If perhaps you didn’t have a coin, and disliked getting your nails dirty with the silver powder that obscured the symbols – this problem has been solved with virtual scratchcards.

Instant wins are now really just that. No more do you have to post off your scratchcard, or phone in your winning code: with online games the prize money is paid in directly to your account – a further enticement to ensnare gamers.

There are many strategies shared by the online gaming community: if the player has a budget of £100 it is wiser to play 100 games for £1, instead of obtaining 10 cards each priced at £10. This is because having ten times as many cards equates to ten times the chance of winning.

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Published on: 04/08/2013 © Bet Bind