Can you really win something with scratch cards? I did the experiment with 100 cards

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Nederlands

’17 winners per minute’ and ‘a chance of winning of 1 to 4.59’ the Dutch Lottery claims about their scratch cards. Sounds hopeful, but is that true? Who has never wondered: ‘Does anyone ever really win something substantial with scratch cards?’ I bought 100 7-klappers (a type of Dutch scratch cards) and took the test. According to the Dutch Lottery, those have a chance to win of 1 in 4.59. That is 21.79 percent chance of a prize.

One 7-klapper costs 1.50 euro, which brings my investment to 150 euros. Painful but everything for the experiment, we shall say. According to the Dutch Lottery, about 21 or 22 scratch cards should be prize-winning in this sample. How many percent of the tickets won a prize? What’s your chance to win? Do you earn back your investment? Will you maybe even make some profit? Keep reading.

How do scratch cards work

First, some background information about scratch cards. They work with series for which a predetermined number of prizes are available. The series where my lottery tickets belonged to are the series valid until November 30th, 2019. In this series there are 8,400,000 scratch cards (!) and 5 main prizes of 50,000 euros, of which none were claimed at the time of writing this article. You can not view the other claimed prizes online. However, there is a schedule with all existing prizes and the chance of winning them per prize:

table-chance-of-winning-scratch-cards
Source: Lotto bv (I have converted the chance of winning into percentages for readability.)

The result: loss is profit

Of the 100 scratch cards that I bought, 4 were prize-winning tickets:

  • 1 x 5 euros
  • 1 x 20 euros
  • 2 x 7 euros

scratch-cards-free-card

Of the 100 scratch cards, 13 cards were awarded with a ‘free card’, which in the end didn’t result in a ‘real prize’. I do not personally regard the ‘free card’ a price, a prize to me is a sum of money in this case. After all, you do not have anything yet if you get the new ticket and then you do not win anything with it. So after my experiment I can say that you have 4% chance of winning a cash prize. If I follow the winning policy of the Dutch Lottery, the chance of winning a prize (a free ticket included!) in my sample would be 17%. That is still under the 21.79% chance that is claimed by the Dutch Lottery, but that will be because of the relatively small sample, given the table above is foolproof. Still, I am particularly concerned with the fact that the chance of winning a prize as given by the Dutch Lottery is unfair. 68.88% of the ‘prizes’ are free tickets. Now what remains the value of that chance then? I calculated how big the chance of a cash prize is with a 7-klapper scratch card: 6.78%. That is not 1 in 4.59 but 1 in 14.76.

So bottom line: I lost 111 euros. Ultimately that is profit. Why? Because this has opened my eyes and I will never waste money on a (scratch) lottery again. 😉