You Might Be Wrong!
A ton of winning scratch-off tickets are just thrown away. These are normally just small winners (but not always).
They are not thrown away because people can't be bothered to claim small amounts. They are thrown away because people haven't realised that they did actually win!
Or sometimes because they lost the ticket. Or washed it in their jeans pocket. Or the dog ate it. You get the picture :-)
The number of unclaimed prizes every year for each lottery company is insane.
So firstly, take care of your tickets. Treat them as winners until you are positive they are not.
But second DOUBLE CHECK every ticket.
Play the game first. Visually check it and decide how much you won. Then keep that ticket until you can scan it at a self-check machine to see what that says.
If there's no self-scan machine, then by all means ask the shop assistant to scan it for you. But do this having some idea of what the ticket is worth. And sign the back first.
The newspapers are full of stories of people who thought they only won small, but then it turned out to be a heck of a lot more.
 Second Chance Draws
These are bonus draws that give you a chance to turn a genuine losing ticket into a winner.
This is one of the most important things you can do with losing scratch tickets.
How Does 2nd chance Scratchers Work?
It's a random draw process. And you get one entry for every losing ticket you submit. They then randomly pick out e.g. 10 tickets, who might all win $1,000.
How To Play 2nd Chance Scratchers?
These days they are mostly done online (you used to have to mail them in). So typically you have to register on the official lottery company website first. Then you just type in the barcode number for each of your losing tickets. Simple, right?
TIP: If the ticket is rejected when you try to enter it in a second chance draw, then check it closely again - because it might actually be a winner! And winning tickets normally cannot be entered :-)
Not every lottery company offers these extra draws (check their website). But even if they don't have one right now, they may soon. So you could have a stockpile of entries all ready to go if you keep your losing tickets.
They usually limit how old a ticket can be, so there's not much point keeping 10 year old tickets. But some older ones will most likely still work.
These draws are definitely worth doing.
Why? Because people are lazy. Most players cannot be bothered to enter 2nd chance draws.
Which means your chances are a lot better than you might think. If you CAN be bothered.
Do You Have To Keep Your Second Chance Lottery Tickets?
Yes, you do have to keep your ticket for second chance. So please do keep the scratchers that you enter. :-)
Although unlikely, technically anyone could enter the code from your ticket. So you do need to keep that ticket to be able to prove you are the rightful owner and winner of the 2nd chance prize.
How Do You Know If You Won Second Chance Lottery?
You will know if you have won the 2nd chance lottery because the lottery company will contact you.
When you enter the draw, on their website or using an app, you will need to have an account. So they know who to contact when you win.
How Does 2nd Chance Scratchers Work
Remember, 2nd chance promotions are a 'draw', not an 'instant' thing. So there is a closing date and everyone who enters before that date has a chance of winning.
And yes, you do have to wait until after the end date for that draw to find out if you won.
Odds Of Winning Second Chance Scratchers
The odds of winning a 2nd chance draw depend on how many people enter the draw. This is different to regular scratch games which have fixed odds based on how many tickets are printed.
So this means if 10,000 tickets are entered, and you enter 1 ticket then your chances are 1-in-10,000.
People are lazy, so the odds do tend to be around this level (1-in-10,000 to 1-in-20,000)
 Tax Offsetting
I'm not a tax expert of any kind. But in the USA lottery winnings are taxable.
What most people don't realise though is that your entry costs can be offset against those winnings. Which can reduce your tax bill!
It's like winning all over again ;-)
But you must keep your tickets as evidence of those costs.
Talk to your tax office - they are nice folks really. They will be happy to explain if you're not sure how this works. Or how to do the paper work.
What To Do With Losing Scratch Off Tickets
Here's what to do with losing tickets:-