The first Scratchard game was on Tuesday 21st March 1995. 20,000 retailers were equipped to offer scratchcards. They are also known as "Instants".
60% of the money spent on scratchcards is allocated to prize money (higher than the 45% on the National Lottery). Like the National Lottery, 28% of the money spent on them goes to the National Lottery Distribution Fund. National Lottery terminals can be modified to allow them to verify scratchcards, but no direct connection to Camelot is required for this verification so retailers without a National Lottery terminal can offer the Scratchcards Instants game.
How to Play
You pay £1 (or £2 for certain games with higher jackpots) to any "Instants" retailer and they give you a scratchcard which has a covered area, plus security verification codes to avoid forgery. You scratch off the covered area to find out if you have won. Games vary on how the prize is won - you need to read the back of the card to find out how to play.
There is no connection with the UK National Lottery (no lottery balls, bonus numbers etc. So really it is no different from the mano other scratchcard games out there and it probably explains why Camelot keep varying the gameplay to try to maintain interest.
If You Win
You will of course instantly know if you have a winning ticket. The chances are that it will only be £1, so you can give your ticket straight back to the retailer to receive your money back (or buy another one!)
If you have a winning scratchcard you should take it to one of various locations depending on the amount you have won:
Up to £75: Any UK National Lottery/"Instants" retailer.
Up to £200: Certain UK National Lottery/"Instants" retailers (at their discretion).
Up to £10,000: UK National Lottery Post Offices or UK National Lottery Regional Centres.
Over £10,000: UK National Lottery Regional Centres.
For prizes above £500, you must provide proof of identity and also fill in a Claim Form. As with the National Lottery you must claim your prize within 180 days of the closing date of the game.
What are the "Instants" prizes and odds of winning?
This varies with each Instants game. Scratchcards play for different prizes and under diffferent rules, so there is no completely accurate way to predict your chances of winning. Odds are given on the reverse of the scratchcards but these are only valid at the start of the game. By the time you buy your card, some prizes have probably already been won so your chances of winning will have altered.