A history of scratch cards: a recent invention
In the USA in the 1960s, there was a popular trend in various greengrocers of supplying your customers with a prize card with a purchase. The winning cards would contain a small amount of money, concealed under a waxy strip. The customers would pick or scratch the wax away to reveal their prize.
These peel-away prizes were incredibly popular, and paved the way for what we now recognise as a scratch card.
Unlike many a printed product that began in rudimentary handmade form way back in the ancient past, scratch cards as we know them are actually a pretty recent invention. The scratch card (as we now understand it) was created in 1974 in the USA.
John Koza (a computer scientist) and Daniel Bower (a retail promoter) founded a company called the Scientific Games Corporation. Whilst working alongside the Massachusetts Lottery Commission on another project, Koza and Bower noticed what they deemed a crucial flaw in the current system. At this time, those who entered the lottery had to wait up to a week to find out if they had won or not, as there was no way of having an instant reveal.
Hence, the idea for the first scratch card was born! Koza and Bower took the waxy greengrocer prize cards, and created a higher quality version, covering numbers, not coins. The first lottery scratchcards went on sale in Boston, in 1974, with lines stretching down streets. People were incredibly keen to buy and according to Koza, a ‘spectacular’ rise in sales was achieved almost instantly. Soon the Massachusetts Lottery revenue doubled! Other states began adopting the same concept and shortly scratch cards became a world-wide sensation! (You can read more about Koza and Bower here.)
Modern scratch cards
Nowadays, scratch cards are characterised by a layer of latex on top of a hidden message, sequence or series of numbers. The latex panels are bonded securely on top of custom printed cards, and are most often seen in silver, but can be created in gold, black or a custom colour. In recent years, overprinting has become very popular for scratchcards. This is a printing technique where text or graphics are printed on top of the latex panels – allowing for a treasure hunt, further information or instructions or just a branded message!
If you’d like more information on how we can create your perfect custom scratch cards, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today.