Scratchcards v Lotto Draws

Scratchcards vs Lotto Draws: What Are the Differences and Similarities?

Note: *The following article is purely for fun. It is based on individual opinions and does not constitute advice. The drawing of lottery numbers is entirely random. Please always gamble responsibly. #Ad. Find out more on our How Our Site Works page.

According to a recent report by Mintel, a whopping 70% of Brits have participated in the National Lottery draw in the past 12 months and 27% have played a lottery scratchcard. In Ireland, around 40% of the population play the Irish Lotto regularly.

The primary lottery operators in both UK and Ireland (Camelot/National Lottery and Premier Lotteries Ireland/Irish Lotto) offer traditional lottery draw games and scratchcards side by side. On the face of it these are very similar - small stake to win a big prize with long odds. However, there are several differences to be aware of. In this blog post we take a look at the main differences and similarities between the two options.

Lotto Draws: The Jackpot Dream

Playing the Lotto really is about hoping for incredible luck - the chances of winning are incredibly low and most players are aware of this. However, the low ticket cost for a chance to dream is enough entertainment for many.

The key information on the main Lotto Draws from the UK and Ireland is:

Lottery Draw Frequency Ticket Price Odds of Winning Jackpot Average Jackpot
UK Lotto Wednesday and Saturday £2 1 in 45,549,554 £6.4 million
UK Set For Life Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday £2 1 in 13,983,816 £10,000 per month for 25 years
UK Thunderball Wednesday and Saturday £1 1 in 11,600,000 £5 million
Euromillions Tuesday and Friday £2.50 1 in 139,838,160 €23 million
Irish Lotto Wednesday and Saturday €2.50 1 in 8,145,060 €8 million
Irish Lotto Daily Million Everyday €1 1 in 3,262,623 €1 million

Some key points to notice on the Lotto Draws:

  1. Frequency: Official Lotto Draws are infrequent (in comparison to other betting products). At most, you have the Irish Daily Millions which has one draw per day. All of the other draws are twice or three times per week.
  2. Jackpot Size: The draws typically have very large jackpots. Aside from betting on the US Powerball or Mega Millions these are some of the biggest gambling wins you can get in the UK and Ireland.
  3. Odds Of Winning: As is always the case, the odds of winning are correlated with the jackpot - large jackpots mean very low chance of winning.
  4. Ticket Price: Ranging from €1 (Daily Millions) to £2.50 (Euromillions). Ticket prices tend to correlate with the jackpot - bigger jackpot usually means higher ticket prices

Scratchcards: Instant Play

Scratchcards, or ‘Instant Wins’ as they are often referred, typically offer smaller jackpots than Lotto Draws and with much better odds of winning.

Some example Scratchcards from UK and Irish Lotteries currently include:

Scratchcard Ticket Price Odds of Winning Jackpot Jackpot
Festive Fortune €3 1 in 1,000,000 €30,000
Block Around The Clock €4 1 in 5,000 €1,000
Digital Christmas Money Multiplier €5 1 in 2,000,000 €100,000
Winter Winner £3 1 in 1,500,000 £50,000
Cash Bolt Wicked Wins £5 1 in 2,000,000 £50,000

Some key points to notice on the Scratchcards:

  • Frequency: There is now ‘draw time’ like Lotto Draws. You can buy a scratchcard whenever you want. They are essentially available 24/7.
  • Jackpot Size: The jackpots are small in comparison to Lotto Draws, however, the odds of winning are better.
  • Odds Of Winning: As is always the case, the odds of winning are correlated with the jackpot - large jackpots mean very low chance of winning.
  • Ticket Price: Scratchcard prices vary much more than Lotto Draws. In the examples above they range from £3 - £5, however, online there are options that range from £0.50 - £10.

Comparison - Jackpots & Odds

On the face of it, you could say Lotto Draws are much better for jackpots as they offer much bigger prizes. However, you can then include the odds of winning - scratchcards typically have a much smaller jackpot but have much better odds of winning it.

So, a good rule of thumb is that jackpots correlate with odds of winning. In other words, the value you’re getting when playing is all relative.

For those of you who want to dig a little deeper, take a look at our Lotto Jackpot Value Calculation - this takes into account ticket price, jackpot size and odds of winning and creates a value score. I.e. How much value you are getting for the money you are spending.

Also here you can see a guide here to picking the best UK Scratchcards.

Comparison - Frequency & Flexibility

Lotto Draws are infrequent and at set times - so if you miss the draw time that’s it, you’ve got to wait until the next draw. A common pitfall here is always picking the same numbers - the concern for some being if you miss buying your ticket one week and your numbers come up!

Scratchcards are incredibly flexible - both the time you can play and also the price you want to spend/jackpot you want to win.

The frequency of scrachcards can be a double-edged sword, problem gambling is much more likely with scratchcards. Remember you should only ever gamble what you can afford to lose. For more information on safer gambling see our blog post.

Comparison - Good Causes

Any Lotto Draw you enter via UK National Lottery or Irish Lotto you are automatically contributing to good causes. In the UK it’s 28% of ticket price and in Ireland it’s 30%. In both cases, the rest of the money is used to pay out prizes to winners (52% in the UK and 57% in Ireland), to cover operating costs (12% in the UK and 13% in Ireland), and for a government tax (8% in the UK and 0% in Ireland).

The good cause contributions are the same for both Lotto Draws and Scratchcards.

Bookmaker Scratchards

As featured here on CompareTheLotto, most bookmakers also offer Scratchcards. These appear very similar to National Lottery scratchcards, however, there are a few key differences:

  • Bookmakers aren’t required to donate to good causes. Any scratchcards you purchase through a bookmaker won’t donate to good causes.
  • Different range of choices available. The National Lottery have their range of scratchcards and bookmakers have a different range (which can vary bookmaker to bookmaker) - there are literally hundreds to chose from.
  • Bookmakers & online casinos often have bonus offers for new players - as shown on this dedicated Casino website. These can be very attractive for new customers. The National Lottery or Irish Lotto never have these kind of offers.


Both Scratchcards and Lotto Draws offer unique features that may or may not suit your needs. Hopefully, you can use our guide above to make an informed decision about which you prefer. If you have any questions, just let us know in the comments.

Lastly, please remember, always bet responsibly.

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