How to Improve Odds with Scratches
When you’re feeling lucky and ready to deposit cash for scratches at a New Jersey lottery retailer, do you randomly choose which tickets seem to be calling your name?
You may have a better chance of making a lot of money if you do your research before selecting the scratch cards you want to buy.
While the tickets themselves let you know the maximum you could win, a quick search online can tell you exactly how many jackpots are up for grabs, if any.
What are my chances of scratching?
The top prize in any New Jersey Lottery scratch prize may be much lower than the jackpot prize for a Powerball or Mega Millions draw, but your chances of hitting the top scratch prize are much better.
We can use the New Jersey Lottery’s newest scratch game as an example – a $10 crossword game that offers a top prize of $250,000, released June 15, 2022.
Of the 3,707,430 tickets printed, six are good for the $250,000 prize. This means there is one grand prize ticket for every 617,905 printed. The odds of winning the Powerball game, which offers millions of prizes, are over 175 million to 1.
On this new crossword game, another 10 tickets carry a prize of $20,000. Twenty-four more tickets are good for $1,000. Better than 1 in 5 tickets wins a prize, from $10 to $250,000.
Scratch odds for the jackpot vary from ticket to ticket, and the odds seem to decrease as the ticket price decreases.
For example, a $2 Big Money Spectacular game released on June 6 has five top prizes of $30,000, but on over 12 million tickets.
Compared to draw games, more money goes to prizes with scratch tickets.
Check this page for specific details on each active New Jersey Lottery scratch.
How do I know if the jackpots are still available?
The New Jersey Lottery doesn’t just tell you how many tickets of each prize have been printed; it also keeps its site updated to let you know how many tickets of each price are still available.
As of June 27, only one of six $50,000 tickets was available for a $5 Super Crossword game that hit stores in March 2022. At the same time, more than 38,000 $10 prizes were still available and more of 10,000 prizes of $100.
So before you tell the retailer what you want, or before you select your games at an ATM, a visit to this site can help you determine which games still have the most jackpots available.
What if there are no more jackpots left?
Even when all top prizes for a certain game have been claimed, you may still see that game for sale. For example, the top three prizes of a $5 20x The Cash game had been claimed by June 27, but the ticket was still considered active.
According to Jim Carey, Executive Director of the New Jersey Lottery, when a game’s top prizes have all been claimed, the NJ Lottery will stop shipping the game and ask retailers to return it.
But that doesn’t always happen instantly – tickets can still be on sale for a few weeks after the last jackpot has been claimed.
“Some retailers have already opened a pack and may want to sell through the pack,” Carey said.
How long do I have to claim my prize?
At the end of a scratch race, the countdown begins at one year for all prizes that have not yet been claimed.
This site gives you an overview of each game that has “completed”. Click on the game details for the exact latest prize giving date.
Some games end their run before all the top prizes have been claimed, mainly because they are special holiday releases.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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