The History of the Scratch Card

The first rub-off instant lottery game will enjoy its 40th anniversary this year! That’s right, as much as we can’t imagine our lives without those enticing tickets with their promise of prizes and rewards, it was actually not that long ago that they were introduced to us.


The two inventors of the Lottery scratch-off cards are Daniel W. Bower and John R. Koza, who perfected the idea of a special scratch-off coupon when both worked for Scientific Games Inc. Koza, a computer scientist, and Bower, a marketing specialist. Koza took the scratch technique used in small-win tickets offered by supermarkets and gas stations, where wins could be achieved by the probability of scratching off the correct spots on the card.


Scientific Games produced the first secure instant ticket and set off to sell it to the State lotteries. If until then, the lotteries offered raffling off one single six-digit number per week, now they had the chance to offer buyers the possibility of an instant win. Massachusetts was the first state to buy into the new cards, with seven other states following suit. Their advantage was in being computer generated, ensuring more accuracy and less randomness.


The instant gratification of scratchies, as opposed to lotto games that required patience and a delayed response, promised an immediate success. Video lottery games have been around since the 1980s, with South Dakota being the first U.S. stage to license and regulate it.

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Once animations and computer programming languages became robust enough, online versions of scratch card video games became imminent. From 2010 onwards, Flash based or Java based games gave scratchcard aficionados the ability to duplicate the thrill of uncovering a scratch card online, whenever they wanted.


Scratch cards continue to capture the imagination of millions, as they work to uncover the promised prizes hidden underneath. One of the best things about playing with scratchcards, either in physical cards or their online versions, is that anyone can do it. No special training or skill required.


So why don’t we all celebrate the 40th anniversary in the best way we know – take a scratchcard – either online or off – and scratch away to reveal your own present!


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