Ever gotten hooked on scratch-off tickets?

StephenCampbell

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 21, 2009
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About a month ago I popped into a convenience store while waiting for a bus, noticed the scratch-ticket vending machine sitting there, and on a whim bought two $5 tickets for two different games. One ticket won $10 and the other won $50.

This set me off on a now-month-long obsession with the things, and my current confirmed deficit is -$676.

Every so often I'd win another $50 ticket, and I even won two $100 tickets along the way, but obviously overall I lost quite a bit of money on this. After adding $80 to my deficit today, I dipped into 'stash money' intended for random luxuries throughout the year and over the course of a few trips in the rain to a few different convenient stores, I bought what I decided would be my last $100 of tickets. These are all unscratched and I intend to keep them that way for a little while in order to help me quit. If I have a stack of unscratched tickets in my desk drawer, it's easier to not go buy more, because "I could already have a winner."

I really want to quit after this last batch of tickets I just got, for obvious reasons.

Has anybody ever gotten hooked on these things before?
 

johnmadden78

macrumors member
Dec 19, 2008
72
0
Dublin, Ireland
I can't offer any specific advice (except that if you can get counselling, please do - at the very least sharing the burden should help some) but I wish you the very best of luck quitting. Gam

Your drawer full of tickets reminds me of a friend who, when quitting smoking, kept the last cigarette in his last pack. His reasoning was similar to yours - if he smoked that cigarette, the next time he had a craving, he'd have to buy a pack. If he bought a pack, he'd smoke the whole thing - therefore as long as he kept that cigarette, he'd never buy/smoke another one.
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
1,565
2,880
Fury 161
That must be the lamest thing to be addicted to. It's not even cool to do it in front of the other kids!
I've never been in that situation, and I'm not prone to addictions, but try to modify your daily routines. If you got into that because you were bored and needed to fill a void, try to find yourself a physical activity.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,853
30,369
Boston
I can't say that I have. I've purchased scratch tickets from time to time, but mostly for gifts.

Looks like you have or developing a gambling problem. Understand what it is and seek help. Like any gambling addition, you can easily whittle away your money looking for that one big win.
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,540
8,165
Colorado
I've never been a big gambler. I have purchased a few scratch-off tickets but never very many or very often. I would try and avoid the stores that have them for a while. Good luck.
 

carjakester

macrumors 68020
Oct 21, 2013
2,226
55
Midwest
i bought one randomly and won 25 dollars and went and bought two more and lost my money again. i gave up after that.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
I've never been a big gambler. I have purchased a few scratch-off tickets but never very many or very often. I would try and avoid the stores that have them for a while. Good luck.

I don't know where the OP lives, but in Missouri, that's every grocery store and every gas station in the state and would be nearly impossible to do. He needs to seek help for his gambling problem if he's not able to quit cold turkey.
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Feb 8, 2007
1,232
190
Mesa, AZ
I don't think I've ever bought a scratch off ticket in my life. I have however played hundreds of hours of blackjack. Even though they are both "gambling", I think it is a lot easier to get sucked into something like scratch off tickets as opposed to playing blackjack in a casino. It is vastly cheaper and more convenient to get that quick scratch off ticket fix.

It might not seem like a big problem yet, but I would strongly suggest seeking some help. Gambler's anonymous or something along those lines. Head this thing off before it develops into a monster.
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
1,301
9,062
Toronto, Ontario
Most annoying people ever when you try to run in and buy something at the convenient store. "Yes I'll take 5 bajillion scratch tickets but I need to pick each one as if I was wielding some sort of magic."
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,540
8,165
Colorado
I don't know where the OP lives, but in Missouri, that's every grocery store and every gas station in the state and would be nearly impossible to do. He needs to seek help for his gambling problem if he's not able to quit cold turkey.
Yeah, they are every where here in Colorado as well. Instead of stopping cold turkey, perhaps the OP should set up a budget or limit on how much to spend on tickets per week.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,409
Most annoying people ever when you try to run in and buy something at the convenient store. "Yes I'll take 5 bajillion scratch tickets but I need to pick each one as if I was wielding some sort of magic."

Even worse are the ones who play the daily numbers. I've seen people play dozens and dozens of numbers per day. Crazy.
 

Scott M

macrumors regular
Nov 25, 2009
197
5
Milton Keynes
I went through exactly the same. Was down about £2000 before I finally hit a big £100,000 jackpot.

Stopped since winning that. Worth it in the end.

Well, it was for me, anyway.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,853
30,369
Boston
I went through exactly the same. Was down about £2000 before I finally hit a big £100,000 jackpot.

Stopped since winning that. Worth it in the end.

Well, it was for me, anyway.
The odds are against the OP from hitting it big. I remember a friend who hit it big, not that much, but big enough for him to buy a car and what not. With that said, however if you added up all the money he spent everyday on the scratch tickets, he could have bought himself a couple of cars. In the end, the odds are stacked against you.
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Feb 8, 2007
1,232
190
Mesa, AZ
Saying



implies that this is turning into a problem for you. You might consider seeking help before this turns into a habit you can not support.
Exactly. I don't think quitting cold turkey is the way to go. But I also don't think it is a good idea to set a weekly budget/limit or anything like that either. All that does is continue to feed your obsession and set you up for failure - you don't have anyone to hold you accountable, and you'll constantly find ways to justify going over your "budget".
 

StephenCampbell

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 21, 2009
1,037
52
I went through exactly the same. Was down about £2000 before I finally hit a big £100,000 jackpot.

Stopped since winning that. Worth it in the end.

Well, it was for me, anyway.
This was playing scratch?

That story certainly isn't going to help me quit. :rolleyes:

The thing is, I've actually gotten hooked on drawing games in the past, and when I lost over $1000 I didn't have a hard time quitting because I could see that I was losing more money than I could realistically afford to, and I probably wasn't going to win. Even if I buy more scratchers, I know myself well enough to know that that point will come where it'll really hit me; you can't win.

The average scratch game has about a million tickets printed, and there are about 3 to 10 top prizes (only the $20 games have more than 3 prizes that are of a reasonable amount.. maybe something like 10 prizes of $10,000 or up).

The point is that the odds of a ticket being one of the top-prize winners is something like 1:300,000 for most of the $5 and $10 games (these are usually $50,000 and $200,000 prizes respectively), and maybe 1:100,000 for the $20 games (to win anything from $10,000 and up).

I could spend $1000 on $10 tickets, and my hundred tickets collectively would only have a 1:3000 chance of having a big winner.

Once these facts really sink in, I begin to realize that while spending large amounts of money does statistically improve my odds, if I'm spending amounts of money that are significant relative to my income and my net worth, it is definitely not the right thing to be doing since I probably won't win anyway. If I can win, it'll take a lot of luck, and a lot of luck can get me a winner even if I'm only spending $20 a month on it.

So I feel sooner or later I would reach that point of realizing that I can't just go on spending large amounts of money.. that it doesn't increase my odds sufficiently relative to how great that loss of money is to me.
 

Don't panic

macrumors 603
Jan 30, 2004
5,551
695
having a drink at Milliways
This was playing scratch?

That story certainly isn't going to help me quit. :rolleyes:

The thing is, I've actually gotten hooked on drawing games in the past, and when I lost over $1000 I didn't have a hard time quitting because I could see that I was losing more money than I could realistically afford to, and I probably wasn't going to win. Even if I buy more scratchers, I know myself well enough to know that that point will come where it'll really hit me; you can't win.

The average scratch game has about a million tickets printed, and there are about 3 to 10 top prizes (only the $20 games have more than 3 prizes that are of a reasonable amount.. maybe something like 10 prizes of $10,000 or up).

The point is that the odds of a ticket being one of the top-prize winners is something like 1:300,000 for most of the $5 and $10 games (these are usually $50,000 and $200,000 prizes respectively), and maybe 1:100,000 for the $20 games (to win anything from $10,000 and up).

I could spend $1000 on $10 tickets, and my hundred tickets collectively would only have a 1:3000 chance of having a big winner.

Once these facts really sink in, I begin to realize that while spending large amounts of money does statistically improve my odds, if I'm spending amounts of money that are significant relative to my income and my net worth, it is definitely not the right thing to be doing since I probably won't win anyway. If I can win, it'll take a lot of luck, and a lot of luck can get me a winner even if I'm only spending $20 a month on it.

So I feel sooner or later I would reach that point of realizing that I can't just go on spending large amounts of money.. that it doesn't increase my odds sufficiently relative to how great that loss of money is to me.
it seems to me you already reached that point.
the odds are heavily stacked against you, so if you are lucky and play very sporadically, you may come ahead, if you play regularly, it is certain you will lose in the long run.

i play scratch tickets occasionally and won small amounts a few times, but certainly not enough to be ahead of the game. I also sometimes play the lottery, when it is very big, "just in case". but the small amounts i have wasted, i chuck down to "entertainment expenses"
last scratch i did i was with the kids, got a ticket and won 5 bucks, big ohs and has. Reinvested in another ticket, and obviously lost this time, but it kept us entertained for a few minutes and get the kids to realize it is a losing situation
 

StephenCampbell

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 21, 2009
1,037
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Odds are against me statistically, of course. But odds are always that what happens happens. If I hit a $200,000 ticket, that's what happens, and then I don't lose in the long run. That can happen.
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,540
8,165
Colorado
Odds are against me statistically, of course. But odds are always that what happens happens. If I hit a $200,000 ticket, that's what happens, and then I don't lose in the long run. That can happen.
I initially thought you didn't have any problems, however, after reading this, I think you do. You should seek help as others have suggested.

Stop using tautologies to justify your habit. Your posts suggest that you want to stop; you should seek help.
Agreed.