The History of Online Scratch Cards

Lucky leprechaun online scratch card from Microgaming

An opportunity to win instantly is not an easy thing to resist, especially when offered by online scratch cards. They are rewarding, they are fun, and they are so unassuming, that one might think their offline counterparts have been around for centuries.

As tempting as it is to imagine that their history begins with ancient Chinese alchemists or with a Victorian chemist, that is not the case. Instead, the development of the games that inspired the online scratch cards that you can play today began in the 1970s. Let’s take a closer look at the lovely little things.

An Instant Lottery Game

When you really look at them, scratch cards are nothing more than instant lottery games. As you probably know, players win money in a lottery if the drawn numbers match at least 3 of the numbers on their tickets. An instant lottery is a bit like a slot machine; The goal is to get at least 3 like symbols.

In 1974, when everyone else was funking it up at the discotheque, John Koza and Daniel Bower spent their time developing the foundation of what would eventually lead to online scratch cards. The scientist and retail promotion specialist for Scientific Games Corporation created the very first computer-generated instant lottery game.

Original scratch cards
Source: Wikimedia

An 80s Debut

The next stage in scratch card history was when Astro-Med, Inc., a Rhode Island-based company, received the US Patent for a scratch-off lottery ticket in 1987.

That year, cards went on sale in the US and in the UK, where they were sold usually at the kiosks that also sold lottery tickets. It soon became apparent that the solvent-based coating on the cards was not safe for the environment.

Glue guru Jerome Greenfield developed a water-based coating that comes off easily when scratched, but it remains in place when exposed to normal handling. Some card manufacturers use a hot stamp foil label instead. Online scratch cards have a software-generated covering that players remove by clicking or tapping it after they place a bet.

The World Goes Online

The mid to late 1990s saw what seemed like the entire world go online. Among those early websites were the very first online casinos powered by providers such as Microgaming.

Those providers were instrumental in creating online versions of not only slots and popular table games such as Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, and Poker, but also of scratch cards. Initially, the cards were as simple as their offline counterparts, but they became more interested as technology evolved.

Winning scratch cards
Source: live.staticflickr.com

Top-Quality Cards Online

Online scratch cards have come a long way since then. Available in a variety of themes, some even are licensed products that were inspired by Hollywood blockbusters.

Many cards stick to the traditional format of awarding payouts for three matching symbols. Some take it a step further by including Wild icons that can substitute for symbols, or Multipliers that can multiply your payouts.

As we mentioned above, to play the cards online, you need to place a bet and then either remove the covering from the playing area click by click, or by clicking the Remove All (or similar) button.

The Cherry On Top

Online scratch cards are a great deal. Think about it. You get to enjoy what must be one of the simplest and easiest ways in which to win money, and some of those payouts can be huge.