# How many prizes left on instant wins?

## Introduction

How many prizes are left on instant wins? This is a common question many people have when playing instant win games and scratch cards. The number of prizes remaining can impact your chances of winning and help you decide if a game is worth playing. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into how many instant win prizes are typically available and how to estimate your odds of winning.

### How Instant Win Games Work

Instant win games, also known as scratch cards or scratch-offs, allow players to immediately reveal whether they’ve won a prize. These games are printed with a set number of winners and total prizes available. Here are some key facts:

– The game provider determines how many top prizes, mid-tier prizes, and small prizes are printed. This is set when the game is manufactured.

– Each game has a predetermined number of tickets in circulation. Popular \$1 games often have around 5 million tickets printed.

– Scratch games will clearly state the overall odds of winning a prize, such as 1 in 4. This tells you statistically how many tickets will win something.

– All prizes are randomly distributed when the tickets are printed and cannot be manipulated later.

– As prizes are claimed, fewer remain. Games will clearly indicate how many top prizes are still available.

So in summary, instant win tickets only have access to the finite prizes printed on the games. The number available will steadily decline as people play and claim winnings.

### How Many Prizes Are Typically Available?

Instant games are designed to pay out around 60-75% of revenue to players in the form of prizes. This means for every \$1 spent on tickets, about 60-75 cents is returned to winners. Here are some typical prize structures:

– **Top prizes:** Most \$1 games have between 4-8 top prizes available, usually between \$5,000 to \$75,000. Once these are gone, you cannot win that amount anymore.

– **Mid-tier prizes:** There are dozens to hundreds of mid-tier prizes, typically between \$20 and \$1,000. Popular amounts are \$50, \$100, and \$500.

– **Small prizes:** Games print thousands of small prizes between free tickets and amounts like \$1, \$2, \$5 or \$10. These offer frequent wins to players.

So at the start of a new instant game, there may be 8 \$75,000 top prizes, 200 \$500 mid-tier prizes, and thousands of free ticket and \$2 small prizes. The number of top and mid-tier prizes will fall steadily as they are claimed.

### How to Estimate Your Chances of Winning

You can use some simple techniques to get an idea of your odds of winning on an instant game:

– **Check remaining top prizes:** This is printed on tickets and tells you how many jackpots are still available. The fewer left, the worse your odds.

– **Calculate odds of a specific prize:** Take the number of that prize originally printed and divide it by the total tickets. Ex: 5 winning \$75,000 prizes in 5,000,000 tickets means odds of 1 in 1,000,000.

– **Use the overall odds:** The printed 1 in 4 odds apply over the lifetime of a game. As prizes are claimed, the odds gradually decrease.

– **Consider prize frequency:** Having thousands of small prizes means most tickets win something. But top prizes will be very hard to get.

– **Look at unclaimed prizes:** Some lotteries publish lists of remaining prizes to provide more precise odds.

Using this information, you can make informed decisions about which instant scratch games currently offer you the best odds to win. The newest games with the most top prizes left give you the best chance at a big jackpot.

## Tracking Remaining Prizes on Instant Games

Once instant win scratch tickets are printed and distributed for sale, the number of prizes available begins to decline. Some lotteries provide real-time information to players on how many prizes remain for their games. Here are some ways you can track prizes left on instant games:

### Check Official Lottery Websites

Many state and national lotteries now provide prize information on their websites. This typically includes:

– Number of top prizes remaining on each game
– Details on mid-tier prizes left
– Frequent updates as prizes are claimed

For example, the Ohio Lottery has a webpage where you can click each instant game to see how many top prizes are still unclaimed. This is a convenient official source for current data.

### Use Lottery Mobile Apps

In addition to websites, most lottery operators also have free mobile apps for iPhone and Android. These let you scan and check tickets, find retail locations, and view remaining prizes on games. For example, theJackpocket app integrates with state lottery data to show prizes outstanding.

The convenience of having this information on your phone makes it easy to check precisely how many major prizes are left before buying tickets.

### Visit Lottery Retailers

Brick-and-mortar lottery retailers often have terminals that can look up remaining top prizes when you provide a game number. Some even print updated prize data weekly and post it for players in-store. So visiting lottery shops is one way to ask directly and get current data.

Just keep in mind that clerks may not always have time to manually check each game. Websites and mobile apps provide the most convenient access.

Social media provides a useful channel for lotteries to update players on prizes claimed. Many lottery Twitter and Facebook accounts announce recent winners and highlight remaining jackpots. Subscribing to these accounts provides regular updates on games of interest.

For example, the Arizona Lottery Facebook page shares notifications when top prizes are hit and exhausted. This real-time feed keeps players in the loop on prize payouts.

## How Remaining Prizes Impact Chances of Winning

The number of remaining top prizes, mid-tier prizes, and overall payouts left in a scratch game can substantially impact your real odds of winning. Here is how dwindling prizes affect instant game odds:

### Fewer Top Prizes

Since instant games only have a fixed number of top prizes, your chances of winning a jackpot decrease as these are claimed. If the number of grand prizes drops from 10 to 2, your odds of hitting one fall dramatically. Buying tickets on a game with only 1 top prize left means you almost certainly will not win big.

### Declining Mid-Tier Prizes

Similarly, having fewer mid-tier prizes of \$500 or \$1,000 reduces your chances at significant medium wins. A game that originally had 100 \$500 prizes but now has only 5 left offers far lower odds of securing this amount.

### Increasing Odds of Losing

As prizes are paid out, the overall win percentage declines. A game may start with a 1 in 4 overall win odds. But over time, as players claim millions of prizes, the odds of losing increase. So a game that has paid out 70% of its prizes may now have win odds of 1 in 7.

### Better Chance at Small Wins

While odds of big jackpots and mid-tier prizes go down, your chances of winning free tickets and small amounts actually improve slightly as fewer total prizes remain in the game. With thousands of \$1 and \$2 prizes printed, these are widely available.

So as large prizes become out of reach on aging games, you do gain slightly better odds of winning something small. But the overall payout rate still falls.

## Should You Only Play New Instant Games?

Knowing that remaining prizes impact your odds, is it smart to exclusively play new instant scratchers with the most top prizes still available? Here are some pros and cons of only playing the latest games:

### Pros of New Games

– You have the best odds to win top prizes and larger payouts
– Jackpots are at maximum levels before any are claimed
– Overall prize payout percentage is higher
– Other players have not had a chance to claim wins
– Lower risk of duplicate winning tickets in circulation

### Cons of New Games

– Retailers may not carry all new games right away
– Prizes often increase in newer games, raising prices
– You miss out on chances at prizes in older games
– Popular older games may have better overall odds
– Newer games often don???t have bonuses like multipliers

### Balancing New and Old Games

The best strategy is often to play a mix of new and older instant games. Trying only new games means missing out on existing prizes. But exclusively playing older games reduces your chances of winning bigger payouts on newer games with more prizes still in the pipeline.

Consider balancing purchases across multiple price points and a variety of game themes to take advantage of both new and old ticket offerings. This diversification maximizes your ability to win.

## Factors That Reduce Remaining Prizes

Assuming all instant game prizes are claimed by players is inaccurate. There are other factors that steadily reduce the remaining prizes available:

### Tickets Damaged Before Sale

Retailers mishandle and damage some amount of unsold scratch tickets in the course of business. Damaged, even if unscratched, tickets cannot be sold or validated. This eliminates both winning and losing tickets from circulation.

### Tickets Expire Before Sale

Instant games have an end-sale date set by the lottery, typically 3-6 months after release. Tickets still on retailer shelves expire, removing those prizes and losses from available winnings.

### Winning Tickets Lost or Unclaimed

Some losing tickets are discarded by players instead of scanned. Winning tickets are also sometimes lost and unclaimed before the submission deadline. These prizes ultimately go unawarded.

### Retailer Theft or Fraud

There are occasional cases of employee theft or fraud at the retail level involving instant tickets. Stolen packs and insider cashing of winning tickets remove prizes.

So claimant behavior, errors, and crime combine with natural ticket spoilage over time to reduce the actual number of prizes available from the original amounts printed.

## Example Game with Declining Top Prizes

Let’s look at a simulated example to demonstrate the impact on top prizes for an imaginary instant game.

### Game Details

– \$2 ticket price
– 5,000,000 tickets printed
– 10 top prizes of \$50,000 each
– 200 mid-tier \$500 prizes
– Overall printed odds of 1 in 4.00

### Launch Week

– 0 of 10 top prizes claimed
– 25 of 200 \$500 prizes claimed
– Odds unchanged at 1 in 4.00

### Week 3

– 4 of 10 top prizes claimed
– 62 of 200 \$500 prizes claimed
– Odds decreased to 1 in 4.10

### Week 10

– 9 of 10 top prizes claimed
– 128 of 200 \$500 prizes claimed
– Odds decreased to 1 in 4.25

This shows how both the number of top prizes and overall odds deteriorate rapidly in the opening weeks of a new instant game. The player has far lower chances of winning the jackpot or a \$500 prize after just a few weeks of sales.

## Use Lottery Data to Make Informed Decisions

Scratch games may feel like random games of chance. But you can use information on remaining prizes to make smarter choices when playing instant games:

– Target new games with the most top prizes remaining
– Avoid games where the jackpot is close to being claimed
– Play a balance of both new and older games
– Check for updated prize data before buying tickets
– Understand your true odds are reduced over time
– Don’t assume printed odds still apply later in a game

With some research into remaining prizes and number of tickets still in circulation, you can make data-driven choices when playing instant games. This can help maximize your chances and make you a smarter lottery player.

Week Top Prizes Remaining Mid-Tier Prizes Remaining Overall Odds
Launch 10 200 1 in 4.00
1 10 200 1 in 4.00
2 9 175 1 in 4.05
3 4 62 1 in 4.10
4 3 45 1 in 4.15
5 2 29 1 in 4.20
10 1 8 1 in 4.50

### How are prizes distributed on instant tickets?

Prizes are randomly distributed during the printing process according to the game design. Top prizes will be spaced out evenly based on the number of tickets printed. All tickets are then shuffled thoroughly before packing and distribution.

### Can retailers or lottery officials manipulate prizes?

No, all prizes are set in the tickets beforehand. Retailers and lottery officials have no way of knowing outcomes or altering results. The scratching reveals a pre-determined prize.

### Where can I find updated prize information?

Most lottery websites provide remaining top prize information and list significant recent claims. Mobile apps and lottery social media accounts also share regular prize updates.

### Do retailers receive packs with more winners?

All ticket packs contain a random distribution of winners and losers. Retailers have no way to determine if packs contain more prizes before selling tickets to players.

### How do frequent small winners impact prize payouts?

Having thousands of small winners ensures most players win something. But it also rapidly pays out a large share of the prize fund. With over 60% of the revenue paid on small prizes, fewer funds remain for larger payouts.