Skip to Content

Can you buy scratch tickets with a credit card in Massachusetts?

Scratch tickets, also known as instant win lottery tickets, are a popular form of gambling in Massachusetts and many other states. Scratch tickets allow players to immediately find out if they have won a prize by scratching off a coating on the ticket to reveal hidden numbers, symbols, or words. With prizes ranging from free tickets up to millions of dollars, scratch tickets offer an exciting opportunity for players to win big. However, there are important regulations surrounding both scratch tickets and credit card purchases that determine whether you can use a credit card to buy scratch tickets in Massachusetts.

Scratch Ticket Regulations in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, scratch tickets are sold exclusively by the Massachusetts State Lottery. All lottery sales, including scratch tickets, are governed by the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. The Commission establishes rules and regulations for licensed lottery agents regarding how and when scratch tickets can be sold. Here are some key regulations for scratch ticket sales in Massachusetts:

  • Scratch tickets can only be sold by licensed lottery retailers. These include convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, and other licensed vendors.
  • Scratch tickets cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18. Retailers are required to verify the age of any customer attempting to buy scratch tickets.
  • Scratch tickets have a predetermined number of winners among each production run. Once all the winning tickets in a certain scratch game have been claimed, that game is retired.
  • Scratch tickets are not valid until activated by a lottery retailer upon purchase. The activation process logs the ticket into the lottery system.
  • Lottery retailers cannot buy scratch tickets for themselves from their own stores. They must purchase scratch tickets from another licensed lottery retailer if they want to play.

These rules help ensure fair distribution and sales practices for scratch tickets. The lottery also mandates reporting procedures and audits for retailers to follow. Failing to comply with scratch ticket regulations can result in penalties, suspension, or losing a lottery license.

Credit Card Purchase Regulations in Massachusetts

Credit card use is highly regulated in Massachusetts, especially regarding gambling transactions. Laws enforced by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) impact whether credit cards can be used to buy scratch tickets. Here are some relevant credit card purchase regulations:

  • The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act prohibits anyone from extending credit to “finance the purchase of lottery tickets or shares.”
  • Banks and credit card issuers cannot knowingly allow credit card cash advances when the borrower intends to use the money for lottery purchases.
  • Banks must report cash advances over $10,000 on credit cards to the government to prevent money laundering.
  • Merchants are prohibited from imposing a surcharge or processing fee for customers who use credit cards instead of cash.
  • Banks can be held liable if they help facilitate illegal credit transactions related to gambling in Massachusetts.

These laws restrict both merchants and credit card companies from directly approving scratch ticket purchases on credit. The regulations aim to protect consumers from predatory lending and accumulation of gambling debt on credit cards.

Can You Use a Credit Card to Buy Scratch Tickets in Massachusetts?

Based on the regulations for both scratch ticket sales and credit card purchases in Massachusetts, the direct answer is no, you cannot use a credit card to buy lottery scratch tickets in this state. Massachusetts bans extending any kind of credit for lottery purchases, including through credit cards. Scratch tickets also cannot be bought on credit through cash advances or other means.

If you attempt to purchase a scratch ticket with a credit card at a licensed Massachusetts lottery retailer, the sale should be immediately declined in accordance with state and consumer protection laws. The retailer could face penalties or sanctions for improperly accepting credit for scratch ticket sales.


While buying lottery scratch tickets directly with a credit card is prohibited, some workarounds do exist:

  • Gift cards – Purchasing a third-party gift card with a credit card, then using the gift card to buy scratch tickets, is permitted. The separation breaks the direct credit-for-lottery transaction.
  • Prepaid debit cards – Funds from a credit card can be transferred to a prepaid debit card account, though fees often apply. The prepaid debit card, not directly linked to the credit card, can then be used for scratch ticket purchases.
  • ATM withdrawals – Credit cards can be used to withdraw cash advances from an ATM. This cash can then be spent on lottery scratch tickets without directly using credit.

However, workarounds come with risks and downsides. Excessive gift card purchases or cash advances can still accumulate credit card debt that could become problematic. Banks can also flag suspicious account activity related to lottery transactions. Consumers in Massachusetts should carefully consider if lottery scratch tickets are a responsible use of credit.

Other Payment Options

Given the restrictions around credit card use, what other payment options exist for buying lottery scratch tickets in Massachusetts?

  • Debit cards – Provided there are sufficient funds available, debit cards can be easily used to purchase scratch tickets just like any other goods or services.
  • Cash – Paying cash is the most straightforward method for buying scratch tickets, though it requires having physical bills on hand.
  • Checks – Personal checks made out for the exact amount can also be accepted by retailers for scratch ticket purchases.
  • Lottery vouchers – Winning scratch tickets of certain amounts can be traded in for lottery vouchers at retailers. These vouchers can then be used to buy more scratch tickets.

To avoid any confusion or denial of sale when buying scratch tickets in Massachusetts, debit cards, cash, checks, or lottery vouchers are the recommended forms of payment instead of credit cards.

Are Other Lottery Purchases Allowed on Credit?

The credit restrictions in Massachusetts do not apply solely to scratch tickets. All lottery purchases made through the Massachusetts State Lottery are prohibited from being bought on credit. This includes:

  • Draw game tickets – Examples are Mega Millions, Powerball, or Lucky for Life tickets.
  • Keno – Keno can be played at bars, restaurants, or other licensed establishments in Massachusetts.
  • Online lottery games – Such as Mass Lottery’s All or Nothing, Megabucks Doubler, or Cash Pop games.
  • Lottery subscriptions – Ongoing subscription plans for draw games like Mega Millions.

Any form of credit, including credit cards, cannot be used to buy these other Massachusetts lottery offerings. The same alternatives like debit cards, cash, or checks would need to be used instead.

Are Other Non-Lottery Purchases Affected?

The credit restrictions for lottery products do not extend to other goods and services sold at Massachusetts retailers, like convenience stores where scratch tickets are available. For regular non-lottery purchases, credit cards can still be freely used as a payment method without issue. The key factor is that credit cannot facilitate specifically lottery or gambling transactions only.

Some examples of other purchases not affected by lottery credit rules:

  • Food and beverages
  • Gasoline
  • Tobacco products
  • Household items
  • Gift cards or prepaid debit cards (when not used for lottery)

These types of goods can all be purchased normally with a credit card at stores selling lottery products in Massachusetts. The restrictions apply specifically when credit is directly enabling a lottery or scratch ticket purchase.

Reasons for Massachusetts Lottery Credit Restrictions

Prohibiting credit cards and financing for lottery products serves some important purposes in Massachusetts:

  • Prevents problem gambling and addiction – Credit can enable compulsive gambling tendencies by providing constant access to lottery products.
  • Limits underage gambling – Credit cards provide an avenue for under 18s to gamble on lottery games illegally.
  • Avoids debt accumulation – Lottery games involve odds stacked against players. Gambling losses can quickly accumulate credit card debt.
  • Upholds responsible gambling – Cash or debit payments reinforce that only disposable income should be spent on lottery entertainment.
  • Deters money laundering – Credit card cash advances could potentially disguise illegally obtained funds spent on lottery products.

These protective factors demonstrate why prohibiting credit card lottery purchases makes sense for Massachusetts residents and promotes responsible gambling habits.

Other States’ Policies on Lottery Credit and Debit Purchases

Regulations on using credit cards and debit cards for lottery purchases vary across different states:

  • Texas – Allows debit card lottery purchases but prohibits credit cards.
  • New York – Permits lottery purchases with both debit cards and credit cards.
  • California – Forbids credit card lottery purchases but allows debit card use.
  • Florida – Bans all credit card and debit card use for lottery purchases.
  • Illinois – No restrictions on using either credit cards or debit cards for the lottery.

Massachusetts is thus more restrictive than some states but takes a similar approach to other jurisdictions like Texas and California in separating credit versus debit treatment. This balance aims to accommodate consumer preferences for convenience while still upholding responsible gambling safeguards.

The Impact of Changing Financial Technology

New financial technologies may warrant revisiting Massachusetts lottery laws regarding credit card usage. Some emerging payment trends that could impact policies include:

  • Mobile wallets – Services like Apple Pay and Google Pay are tied to credit cards but mimic cash payments. Regulators may need to determine appropriate treatment.
  • Cryptocurrency – Blockchain-based assets offer an alternative payment method but with high volatility. Cryptocurrency could enable undetected gambling by credit.
  • Buy now, pay later – Services like Affirm provide short-term installment loans for purchases. If used for lottery products, they may effectively constitute credit.

Massachusetts policymakers face the complex task of continually evaluating whether new financial products and services adhere to responsible gambling standards when used for lottery purchases. Any changes to current credit prohibitions would likely occur gradually and in close consultation with consumer protection authorities.


In summary, credit and debit cards are treated differently when it comes to buying lottery products like scratch tickets in Massachusetts. Debit cards, cash, checks, and winning vouchers can be freely used to purchase lottery games. But utilizing credit cards or credit accounts to buy lottery tickets directly violates both state lottery policies and consumer protection laws intended to promote responsible gambling.

While workarounds exist, Massachusetts residents should carefully consider if lottery purchases fit within a responsible budget. Scratch games offer entertainment value, but losing money through compulsive gambling fueled by credit can lead to significant financial harm. Using debit or cash for lottery tickets allows players to stay focused on keeping gambling strictly within disposable income limits.