Scratch cards are one of the most popular and widespread forms of gambling available. And it is gambling. Like its older brother, the lottery, scratch cards are games of pure chance and they come under the laws related to gambling wherever they’re available. That said, another thing they share in common with lottery tickets is that scratch cards are often entirely legal in places where other forms of gambling are illegal and fall under the purview of the state lottery.
The way they work is simple. You buy one or many scratch cards from either your local lottery or from casinos or even online casinos and you scratch the silver strip on the card with your fingernail or coin to reveal the hopefully winning numbers behind that strange silver material. It’s really as simple as that.
The big question, though, is if you do happen to win, how long do you have to claim your winnings if you happen to have actually won? Incidentally, of all the gambling games, scratch cards actually have some of the lowest odds of winning imaginable. But then that is true of lottery tickets too. Which is why it’s funny that they’re actually the most socially acceptable forms of gambling available.
How Long to Claim Your Winnings
Like everything else about scratch cards, the answer to this is very simple. You have 180 days – that’s roughly six months – in which you can cash your card and claim your winnings. This is also true of lottery tickets, as it so happens.
If you’re not sure when you got your ticket, it’s easy enough: there is a date on the back of the card that gives you the date of issue. Note that the 180 days begin from that date, not when you happened to buy it.
It’s also worth noting that your card needs to be mostly intact when you claim it, with minimal tears, especially along the winning strip. Also be sure not to lose the card because like a lottery ticket, your card is not linked to your ID card or anything like that so it can be used by anyone who happens to have it on hand. Obviously, though, you have to be over 18 (21 in some places) if you are to get paid out for the card in your hand. It’s also a very good idea to sign the back of your winning card to avoid others using it instead of you if you do lose it or have it stolen.
Why Wait to Cash Out?
The big question, obviously, is why you wouldn’t just claim your winnings immediately. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s often the case that you will buy a whole bunch of cards and only scratch them when you get home, and you may only be able to get to a lottery dispenser weeks, if not months, later.
There’s also the fact that you might buy the card either online or from a supermarket and you will need to physically go to an official lottery center to cash it in. There’s also the reality that in this digital age, physical scratch cards are only one way of playing the game. It’s still the most popular version too, but virtual scratch cards are becoming increasingly popular and the way they work is somewhat more complicated – but you can usually claim them either online or in person, depending on your winnings.
Either way, as long as you claim within those 180 days and no later than that, you should be all good.