Why Do Poor Brits Love Buying Scratchcards?

I’m no fan of the National Lottery in the United Kingdom, especially scratchcards. In fact, I believe it to be a voluntary tax to fund sports and the arts of social elites on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable Brits. It angers me when I see government-sanctioned National Lottery posters, advertisements and announcements.

Scratchcards FTW!

I have worked in many retail jobs before, and I have heard in-store radios asking customers to buy tickets for a “humungous £39 million Euromillions jackpot!”. Such statements are usually backed up by asking the hypothetical customer “what would you do with the money?”, followed by a scripted answer along the lines of “ummm… I would spend it on the kids, we would go to Bermuda and I’d take my elderly stepmother, and then I’d get a people carrier!”.

Of course, the National Lottery focuses pulling the heartstrings of its customers, mentioning family, material things and focusing on all of the things that they currently don’t have. Without the money, they suggest, your life is materially worthless and thus pointless. Your child will not love you for not taking them to that 5-star resort, your pain-in-the-ass stepmother will instigate a family breakup, and your Fiat Uno will disintegrate as it rolls down the dual carriageway. Unless you buy that ticket.

Also on the National Lottery’s profit radar are scratchcards. These are supposed for instant gratification; or for compulsive gambling when your brain tells you to buy another scratchcard because you haven’t won. I witnessed this first time when I visited Leicester last week; a medium sized city with the lowest disposable income in Britain.

Win or Lose?

I saw a mother with a pushchair and two children, going into a newsagent’s, buying a scratchcard, scratching it against a wall, losing and then go back to the newsagent’s to purchase another. I then saw her do the same thing again twice over. What concerned me was not the money wasted in the scratchcards, but her children that were witnessing it. When her kids grow up, it would not be outside the realm of possibility that they would mimic the behaviour of their mother.

The next day I was at work in my staff room. As I set my bag down, I saw one of my colleagues (who is a single mother on a low income) furiously scratching away and then ‘win’ £1 on a £1 scratchcard. Okay, it is technically a win, but the National Lottery often uses the “one in every four scratchcards is a WINNER” nonsense.. but you don’t win if you win £1. Nevertheless, the staff table was covered in scratchcard-dust and I had witnessed another desperate soul thinking they were lucky.

I thought to myself: “you know what Stuart.. I’m gonna buy one of these wretched things to prove a point”. To prove, in an article, that I was one happier keeping my pound coin, and that I could have used that pound to buy a bunch of bananas and a packet of biscuits. I then decided to take one for the CrowdH team. I bought a fucking scratchcard.

The Scratchcards Experience

Spare Change

Just counting my money. Damn… 62p…

I tried to take a photo of the scratchcard kiosk at my local branch of the Co-Op (basically a small supermarket chain), but the security guard kept following me so I had to abort it. Nevertheless, I asked for “any £1 scratchcard” and the checkout guy gave me this:

Sexy Man with Scrapcard

Wow.. PAYDAY!! I’ll blow the £10,000 jackpot on blackjack and hookers if I win…

The aim of the game is quite simple. If I find a PAY symbol in any of those calendar boxes, I could win either:

£10,000
£500
£100
£40
£20
£10
£5
£2
£1 (not a win… it is not a fucking win)

Scrapcard

A closeup of PAYDAY before scratching.

Scratchcard

A closeup of PAYDAY after scratching. I won £2, I mean £1, I mean £2, no, wait… £1?

More Scratchcards?

Well. I did win, but barely. I spent £1, won £2, but minus the £1 I spent I’ve won £1. This leaves me with a choice. Do I go and buy another scratchcard like the National Lottery would want me to do, or do I keep the £1?

I’ll keep the £1 because I know that somewhere out there in Britain, there are tens of thousands of problem gamblers that won’t win, or win and then spend their winnings on more scratchcards. I did not buy PAYDAY on the basis of thinking I would win, nor did I buy it on gambling compulsion, I did it to prove a point. That point being that just because you win doesn’t mean you win. 99.9% of the time, THEY win. You are just playing a loser’s game and you are happier just keeping that pound.

About Pierre-Marcel De Mussac

Pierre-Marcel is the CEO of Kinstream Media, and he manages the editorial board and day-to-day operations at CrowdH. He’s a tech and news junkie, and an avid social media analyst who’s always on the lookout for new stories to cover. He has been an entrepreneur for the past 15 years and he’s now dedicated to change the news, and the world!

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