Scratch-Offs vs. Drawings: What's The Difference? - The Lottery Hub (2024)

Scratch-offs and drawings are both forms of lottery games, but have some key differences. Scratch-off tickets involve revealing hidden numbers or symbols by scratching off a latex covering to see if you have a winning ticket. Drawings involve purchasing a ticket with pre-printed numbers, which are then entered into periodic drawings where winning numbers are selected at random.

The main differences are that scratch-offs involve instant wins, while drawings require waiting for the selection of winning numbers at a scheduled drawing time. Scratch-offs also involve interacting with the ticket, while drawings rely solely on pre-printed numbers. This article will provide an in-depth overview of scratch-offs versus drawings, including availability, gameplay, odds, payouts, frequency, purchase cost, and tax implications to help readers understand the pros and cons of each lottery game type.


Scratch-off lottery tickets are available in most states across the US. According to the Ohio Lottery, scratch-offs are available at most retailer locations across the state (Ohio Lottery). The Florida Lottery also notes scratch-offs can be purchased at many retail locations (Florida Lottery).

However, scratch-off availability can vary by specific game. For example, New Jersey points out that not all scratch-off games are available at all retailers in the state (New Jersey Lottery).

Drawings and lotteries are typically available in most states where lottery games are legal. However, some states like Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah do not have state-sponsored lottery drawings. Therefore, the availability of lottery drawings is restricted in those states.


Scratch-offs have very simple gameplay. You purchase a card or ticket with a scratch-off coating covering a grid of numbers, symbols, or prize amounts. Using a coin or your fingernail, you scratch off the coating to reveal what’s underneath. If you match certain patterns or reveal certain prize amounts, you win a prize. Gameplay instructions are printed directly on the scratch-off ticket.

With lottery drawings, you purchase a ticket with a set of numbers you select or which are randomly generated. Then you have to wait for those numbers to be drawn at a scheduled drawing time, usually once or twice per week. If your numbers match the ones drawn, you win a prize. The lottery organization conducting the drawing announces the winning numbers.

So scratch-offs involve instant reveals and immediate gameplay, while drawings make you wait for a scheduled drawing time to determine if you’ve won. Scratch-offs offer instant gratification and reveal if you’ve won right away, while drawings build anticipation leading up to the drawing.


The odds of winning with scratch-off tickets versus lottery drawings can vary significantly. According to one source, the odds of winning any prize on a $1 scratch-off ticket are generally around 1 in 4.5 (source). However, the odds of winning a jackpot prize like $1 million may be around 1 in 150,000 or longer. With lottery drawings, the odds also depend on the specific game. For example, Powerball has overall odds of 1 in 24.9 of winning a prize, but odds of 1 in 292 million of hitting the jackpot (source). Mega Millions has similar overall odds of 1 in 24 but jackpot odds of 1 in 302 million. So while scratch-offs offer better odds of winning smaller prizes, lottery drawings provide the opportunity for much larger jackpots, albeit with extremely long odds.

It’s important to understand the specific odds for each ticket or game. Just because the overall odds of winning a scratch-off prize are better doesn’t guarantee you will win if you buy multiple tickets. As one source explains, “If the overall odds of winning are about 1 in 3.41, that does not mean that if you buy four tickets in a row, one of them will automatically be a winner” (source). Properly understanding the odds can help players make informed decisions.


Scratch-offs typically have lower payouts compared to lottery drawings. Scratch-offs often have top prizes ranging from $20,000 to $1 million, with overall odds of winning any prize around 1 in 4. However, the most common prizes are free tickets or small amounts like $5 or $10 (Scratch-off Stats). For $10 scratch-offs, the average return is about $5 per ticket (Did We Get Lucky?).

Lottery drawings like Powerball and MegaMillions have much higher jackpots, often starting at $40 million and sometimes reaching over $1 billion for the top prize. But the chances of winning these huge jackpots are extremely small, around 1 in 300 million. Other prize tiers offer better odds but much smaller winnings, usually no more than a few thousand dollars. Overall, about 50% of lottery revenue is paid out in prizes (What is the average loss percentage?). So while the potential payouts are bigger, your real chances of a life-changing jackpot are very low.


The frequency with which scratch-off tickets and lottery drawings can be played differs significantly. Scratch-off tickets are printed by lotteries in large batches and can be purchased at any time from authorized retailers as long as supplies last. There is no restriction on how often a player can purchase scratch-off tickets.

In contrast, lottery drawings are held on a fixed schedule that limits how often players can participate. For example, the Mega Millions lottery holds drawings twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00pm according to the Ohio Lottery website. The Colorado Lottery holds its Pick 3 drawing daily at approximately 7:35pm as stated on the Colorado Lottery FAQ page. So drawings can range from daily to a couple times per week, restricting how frequently a player can participate.

Purchase Cost

One major difference between scratch-offs and lottery drawings is the purchase cost per play. For scratch-off tickets, the price can range from $1 up to $50 per ticket. Some common price points are $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $30. The ticket price determines the size of the prizes available and the odds of winning. Higher priced scratch-offs generally have larger prizes but tougher odds.

For lottery drawings like Powerball and Mega Millions, each play costs $2. While significantly cheaper than most scratch-offs per play, the jackpot prize pools for lottery drawings are generally much larger. For example, the starting jackpot for Powerball is $40 million compared to top prizes on scratch-offs that may reach $5 million on $50 tickets but are often much smaller on lower priced tickets.

So while lottery drawings offer cheaper individual plays, scratch-offs provide more flexibility in purchase cost depending on the size of prizes desired. Lottery drawings compensate through enormous jackpots fueled by millions of players nationwide.

Tax Implications

Both scratch-offs and lottery drawings have tax implications for winnings. In the United States, lottery winnings are considered taxable income by the IRS. This means that any winnings from scratch-offs or drawings over a certain threshold will be subject to federal taxes.

For scratch-offs, you must pay taxes on any winnings over $600. The lottery issuer will provide you with a W2-G form reporting your winnings if they exceed this amount. You must report these winnings as “other income” on your federal tax return. The top federal tax rate is 37%, though your rate may be lower depending on your tax bracket.

For lottery drawings like Powerball and MegaMillions, taxes are more complex. For winnings up to $5,000, your lottery tax rate is 24%. For amounts between $5,001 and $150,000, your rate is 37%. And for winnings over $150,000, the top rate of 40.8% applies. Taxes are automatically withheld when you claim lottery drawing prizes over $5,000.

In addition to federal taxes, some states levy additional taxes on lottery winnings. It’s important to consult with a tax professional to determine your full tax liability.

Pros and Cons

Both scratch-off tickets and lottery drawings have advantages and disadvantages to consider (Source 1, Source 2).

For scratch-offs, the pros are that they generally have better odds than drawing games, offer immediate gratification, and a wide variety of price points. However, they can also encourage compulsive gambling behavior. The tickets are disposable, making it easy to buy one after another without even realizing how much you’ve spent.

Drawings have much worse odds but enormous potential payouts. Playing provides longer-term excitement while waiting for the drawing, and office pools allow socializing and shared hope. But drawings can also feed unhealthy obsession over unlikely fantasies. Taxes consume nearly half of jackpot winnings.

In summary, both lottery options come with risks of addiction. Scratch-offs offer better odds and instant results but disposable tickets feed compulsion. Drawings promise life-changing rewards but have longer odds and big tax bills. Overall, neither is mathematically wise but both provide entertainment value if played responsibly.


Scratch-off lottery tickets and lottery drawings have some key differences that players should consider when deciding which game to play. Scratch-offs offer instant gratification and more frequent lower payouts. You instantly know if you won a prize when you scratch off the ticket. Drawings feature larger jackpots but you need to wait for the drawing to take place to find out if you won. You also have to match all numbers correctly to win the jackpot in a drawing. With scratch-offs, you can win smaller prizes even if you don’t match all the numbers/symbols. For frequent players looking for regular small wins, scratch-offs may be preferable. Those wanting a chance at a massive jackpot may want to play drawings. Ultimately, both scratch-offs and drawings involve chance and risk. Players should set a budget and not spend more than they can afford to lose. Overall, lottery games are meant to be fun entertainment but should be approached responsibly.

Scratch-Offs vs. Drawings: What's The Difference? - The Lottery Hub (2024)


Scratch-Offs vs. Drawings: What's The Difference? - The Lottery Hub? ›

The odds of winning a top prize are significantly different between scratch games and lottery draw games. Scratch-off tickets can have better odds. However, the top prizes can be substantially larger for draw games than for scratchers.

Which scratch cards pay the most? ›

Top 5 Scratch Cards with the Highest Return to Player
  1. Lucky Numbers – 96.57 %
  2. Whack a Jackpot – 96.30 % ...
  3. Wish Upon a Jackpot – 96.06% ...
  4. Pig Wizard – 95.82% ...
  5. Merlin's Millions – 95.17% Boasting an extremely high RTP for an online scratch game, Merlin's Millions is a popular choice for this type of casino genre. ...
Nov 22, 2022

What is the difference between a pull tab and a scratch-off? ›

And, although a pull-tab may look like your average lottery scratch-off tickets, you may be surprised to learn that the average pull tab payout is nearly 80 percent! Pull tabs put cash back into players' hands so they can keep on playing.

What does the number of draws mean? ›

Number of Draws means the number of Drawings for which a Multi-Draw and/or Future Play Ticket is valid. Sample 1Sample 2. Number of Draws means the number of Drawings for which a Future Play Ticket is valid.

What is the formula for picking numbers in the lottery? ›

To figure out your odds, use an equation in which "k" represents the numbers you choose correctly, "r" represents the total numbers drawn, and "n" represents the number of unique numbers the numbers will be drawn from. Without numbers, the formula looks like this: × ( r − k ) ! × ( n − r ) !

What is the best scratch card to get? ›

Here are four of the best:
  • Spinlotto Scratch is 50p a card, with a jackpot of £7,500.
  • Elite of Evil is also 50p, with a £1,000 jackpot.
  • Elephant costs just 20p a card to be in with a chance of winning £2,000.
  • New Super Shamrock - cheapest of all is 15p with a jackpot of £1,500.

What lottery game has the highest payout? ›

1. $2.04 billion. The largest lottery jackpot to date, a Powerball drawing, was won on Nov. 7, 2022.

Are pull tabs worth it? ›

And yes, as long as they are aluminum, the old ring tabs are accepted today, Skiera said. * says a million pull tabs have a recycle value of about $366. A hundred have a scrap-metal value of about 3 and a half cents, though that fluctuates.

Do pull tabs tell you if you win? ›

Physical pull-tab tickets are multi-layered paper tickets containing symbols hidden behind perforated tabs. The player opens the perforated windows on the ticket to reveal a winning combination. The player turns in the winning ticket for a prize. Electronic analogues have also been created.

What are the different tabs in scratch? ›

You can create Left tabs, Right tabs, Center tabs, Decimal tabs, and Bar tabs.

Does a draw mean you win? ›

Sometimes, while playing Chess, neither player wins or loses – and a Draw is called. A Draw will be called in Chess in multiple scenarios – Stalemate (explained separately), if there is a Mutual Agreement, Threefold Repetition, the Fifty-Move Rule or if there is Insufficient Material.

How many times can you use the same lottery ticket? ›

When you buy a Powerball ticket at the store, unless you pay for multiple drawings, it is only valid for the next drawing. In other words, if your Powerball ticket doesn't win, it's not eligible to win in future drawings, unless you specifically pay for multiple drawings.

What do drawing numbers mean? ›

A drawing number represents a drawing. The drawing may have one part or several parts on it, or only a portion of a part. So, there may be several drawings to one part, or several parts to one drawing.

What is the best lottery number picking strategy? ›

Lottery Number Selection Strategy
  • Don't choose more than 2 consecutive numbers. ...
  • Don't choose multiples of a number (with or without an offset). ...
  • Choose at least one number above 31, because loads of people will use ALL birthdates and you need to make sure that you aren't one of them.

Is there any trick to picking lottery numbers? ›

The key to this strategy is simple. Review the past several draws, make note of those numbers, and pick different ones! Also, vary the numbers chosen by not selecting two numbers within the same group or not selecting those that end with the same digit.

What are the 6 most common winning lottery numbers? ›

The most frequently drawn winning numbers from the main barrel are 17, 7, 11, 2, 3 and 9, while the least frequently drawn are 33, 15, 34, 31, 26 and 1. The most frequently drawn Powerball numbers are 19 and 2, while the least frequently drawn Powerball numbers are 14 and 16.

What price lottery tickets win the most? ›

More expensive tickets (i.e., those that are $5 USD and up) not only have higher payouts but also a higher percentage of winners: it has a higher jackpot, and cash prizes are spread out among more people. In other words, a $1 USD ticket might be super cheap, but the top prize is pretty low: maybe around $300 USD.

Which lottery has the best odds of winning in Florida? ›


Yep, if you want the best odds of any Florida Lottery ticket, reach for the $20 GRL. The overall odds of winning something on this ticket is 1:2.65. This game has been out quite awhile, since September 20th of 2021, so I'm sure you've seen it before. But have you played it?

How much is a book of $5 scratch tickets in Florida? ›

The Big Reveal: A book of $5 scratch-off tickets in Florida will typically cost you $25.

Which Missouri scratchers have the best odds? ›

If you rank Missouri's scratchers games by the odds of winning, then the 300 X game has the best odds at 1 in 2.64. The top prize in this game is $3 million. It is among several $30 games in Missouri that have better than average chances of winning.

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