The scratch card gambler: a hidden reality

J Gambl Stud. 2023 Sep;39(3):1099-1110. doi: 10.1007/s10899-022-10136-4. Epub 2022 Aug 3.


Scratch cards-otherwise known as scratch tickets or instant lotteries-are a highly accessible type of lottery, due to its relative accessibility and affordability. In Portugal, the popularity of scratch cards has experienced substantial growth, with almost no regulatory reaction whatsoever. This study aims to describe the sociodemographic characteristics of scratch card gamblers, prevalent gambling habits, and their perceptions regarding scratch card gambling. This study also determines the constancy of pathological scratch card gambling, and the possible impact of regulatory measures. We found that about half of the participants studied were at risk of pathological gambling and scratch cards seem to have a clear potential for enticing higher spending in vulnerable consumers, compared to other forms of gambling games. Perception biases regarding gambling are frequent and almost no one afflicted seeks help. Regulatory measures are crucial to regulate potential problematic behaviors, specifically in high-risk persons. There is an urgent need to act, made clear by both present findings and numerous precedent warnings regarding scratch card gambling hazards.

Keywords: Addiction; Addictive behaviour; Gambling addiction; Pathological gambling; Scratch cards.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Bias
  • Gambling* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Portugal
  • Surveys and Questionnaires