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Are scratchcards worth buying?

Gambling is a fools game. Or so they say, should you really gamble your money away buying something like scratchcards, and lottery tickets in order to make money?

I’m not going to make a comparison between buying something like gambling money to make money, and investing money to make money.

I’ll always choose this approach over gambling. At this time in life however, my level of knowledge when it comes to investing is low, so I prefer to apply my knowledge and head towards logical ways of making money.

I havne’t gone into Matched betting, as this is considered the safest approach when it comes to gambling, because it confuses me. I understand how it works, just it’s too much “faff” for me.

Whilst I’m not really a believer in gambling to make money, everything is about statistics and odds to me when gambling on these. You either win, or you don’t. So I prefer to research and investigate them statistically in order to identify the best method of winning. Or to increase the probability of me winning.

I don’t really spend money,  I don’t smoke, rarely drink, and tend to only gamble a fixed amount of money that I’m prepared to lose financially (I currently put around £25 per month aside for gambling). I just do this on the rare off chance I feel like a lotto ticket when there’s a high jackpot or scratchcard to bet with. Once my knowledge improves I’ll be investing over gambling

I could put the money into a pension, but may aswell have some form of vice to waste my money on, and I’m still putting some money aside for a pension. As any money I won gambling, would just go towards paying off my debts faster. Yes, I am aware of the irony of gambling money to make money. Sometimes life is about risk however.

Now, to the topic of this post. Are scratchcards worth buying, can you even make money. Or is there a better approach?

My preferred approach to gambling, is on the Irish Lottery. Whilst I do buy a scratchcard (once per week), I either reinvest my winnings, or cash them out. However the odds on scratchcards depreciate over time, so they’re only worth getting in the initial stages, unless you’re going for the “big win”.

Why do I choose the Irish Lottery over scratchcards?

On a National Lottery Scratchcard, the lowest odd rate is around 1/15, to get a £5 return for a £5 card. However, the win rate on scratchcards, normally tends to hover around 3.76 – 4.42, so basically you need to “bet” (or spend) around £18.80 to £22.10 before you have a chance of winning on a scratchcard. Regardless of the odds, you’re already investing way more money before you’ve ever even broke even.

On the Irish Lottery, (aside from the selections of game types you can pick on Bet365). The odds of winning are higher, basically every game has a 1/49 chance of picking the correct number. Here are the 3 most common odds/games for the Irish Lottery

  •  You can pick 1 number, return odds are around 8/1 – £1 bet would return £8 (if the single number came up)
  •  You can pick 2 numbers, return odds are 46/1 – £1 bet would return £46 (if both numbers came up)
  • You can pick 3 numbers, return odds are 646/1 – £1 bet would return £656 (if all 3 numbers picked came up)
    • You can also pick the “bonus” ball option, which halves the odds, but gives you an extra chance to win (on 3 numbers)

The benefit of picking Bet365, is that I can put whatever stake I want on, and the money returned is proportional to the stake. On the Irish lottery games, I bet £1 per game, or line. That means for 4 sets of games (3 draws per game), it would cost £12

If a single game won for me, I’d get £46 back (on a double), and then withdraw some money, and then reinvest the rest for more lines to win more games. The more invested statistically, the higher the likelihood of winning again, because it’s down to combinations selected of winning numbers. As long as you are withdrawing more money than you invest, you’re only ever playing with your winnings. So you aren’t really losing either, because it’s just profit reinvested.

You can increase your probability of winning, by reading various websites. This gives you statistics on commonly drawn balls, number pairs, number triples, which then further increases your chances of picking the correct number. As long as you play smart, by setting limits for yourself. Applying intelligent gambling, and withdrawing some winnings. You significantly increase the chances of it being profitable. By using math with gambling you increase your odds, the more number combinations you have. The greater your chance. Combine this with something like a probability table of commonly drawn numbers + number pairs, and you get a good idea of which numbers will potentially be worth betting on. So by reinvesting some money and buying more of these pairs, you increase your odds. The end goal being to only use profits for betting.

If you want to see how bad the odds are of a National Lottery scratchcard, here’s one I’ve taken as an example, you can see the odds of winning (and the amount) against each line. Also this applies to when the card is first released, usually the more common low value winners disappear first, so your odds of winning actually get lower the longer the game goes on.

Take a look at the odds of the “100x” National Lottery scratchcard


For the above card, to get £50 for example the lowest possible odds are around 1/1900. Info is in the “Prize Amounts, Number of Prizes and Odds” section

On the Irish lottery. The odds of picking two correct numbers, are 46/1.

I could spend 5 x £1 and if a single one won, I’d get £46 back. Or I could put £5 on one line and get £230 back

This is why to me scratchcards seem a worse option than the Lottery, you can get 5 chances to win the same amount as you would on the scratchcard, except the scratch card has worse odds overall, and significantly less chances.


I don’t really feel there’s a right or wrong to this question, more just what you feel comfortable with. In the end, it comes down to how much you want to risk or lose versus how much you get to reward.

I personally believe it’s better on the Irish Lottery, I’ve tried Scratchcards over the years, and whilst my overall P/L shows me as positive, the amount I’ve won has been about 25% higher than what I’ve had to invested. Where with the Irish Lottery, You could invest the same amount, and win every single game.

Here is my summary to date.

I’ll keep updating this post as I go (once per month) until I feel like stopping. So you can make up your own choices.

UPDATE : I will keep this post updated until 12th June 2023 to show my total after 12 months

I prefer to diversify my income, so whilst this is a slow way to make money (if it works), it’s an alternative method. When I win money, I prefer to withdraw some, and then reinvest the rest to increase the number of chances with the game. Then when the money is used up, I simply wait for the next month for future deposits.

DEPOSITS£312How much have I deposited from my bank
WINNINGS£739How much money have my bets won
WITHDRAWALS£448How much money have I cashed out to my bank in total
Profit / Loss£136 ProfitMy overall earnings between deposits and cashout
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