Instant lottery games overview

What are instant game lotteries?

Instant games are a popular type of lottery draws. While regular lotteries have scheduled draws, instant lotteries award prizes on the spot.

How are online instant games played

Instant games come in many different iterations, including bingo and slot-type games. While the rules differ somewhat between game types, they all follow similar patterns. Popular styles include reveal, crosswords, and symbol matching.

A game is categorized as instant if the outcome of a winning ticket or similar reward is determined either before or at the time the ticket is sold, depending completely on chance.

The minimum price per play varies, with the lowest possible stake usually around $0.10 and the maximum stake per play at $10. For example, for the Crossword Cash instant game in Pennsylvania, the complete playing range is $10, $5, $3, $2, $1, $0.50, $0.20, and $0.10.

Here are some of the most popular instant-win lottery games on the market:

TitleMin. betMax. betOdds of winning (one in)Main prize
Volcano Eruption$0.01$5.004.93$50,000
Blackjack Doubler$0.10$2.0020.61$50,000
Bigfoot Reveal$0.01$5.003.73$1,000
Big Eats Little$0.10$10.002.77$50,000
Big Money Slingo$0.50$10.002.40$100,000
Ballroom Bingo$0.10$10.002.44$5,000
Cash Buster Towers$0.50$20.003.22$15,000
Crossword Cash$0.10$10.003.09$6,000
Foxin' Wins$0.01$5.004.92$10,000
HIT$0.05$40.002.23 to 7.23$60,000
King of Clubs$0.05$36.0032.00$60,000
Monster Wins$0.01$20.005.82$40,000
Robin Hood$0.01$5.005.75$10,000
Shocking 7s$0.25$7059.28$60,000
Super Cash Buster$1.00$10.003.21$20,000
Cash in the Lamp$0.10$10.003.85$10,000
Super Gems$0.10$10.004.30$10,000
Queen of Diamonds$0.15$36.002.29 to 10.96$60,000
Egyptian Deluxe$0.05$4034.46$60,000
Road Trip USA$0.10$3512.78$125,000

To begin playing an instant-win game, you first need to select your stake. Then, you click on a ‘Play’ button. Your goal is usually to create a certain combination of symbols or numbers. How many you match will determine your winnings, if any.

As soon as the given turn is complete, the outcome of the draw is displayed on the screen. If the player was lucky, their prize will be credited to their name and their account balance will reflect the win instantly.

Certain games have special bonus rounds or features such as auto-play. Auto-play allows a player to continuously play the same instant game at the same stake without taking any action.

Probabilities for instant games

Probabilities differ between games. Here is an example of the probabilities of certain outcomes based on the Crossword Cash instant game:

PrizeChance (1 in)

How much can you win with instant games?

The size of your winnings depends on the game. Crossword Cash, for example, has a maximum prize of $5,000 per turn, whereas the Volcano Eruption bonus mini-game has a maximum prize of $50,000 per turn. Some games even allow you to win as much as $250,000.

Where can you play instant games online?

You can play instant games online in the following states:

History of instant games

Instant games have a long and interesting history. An individual called John Koza was first credited with creating the original type of instant games via lottery scratch-off cards back in the 1970s.

He had been working with a company that specialized in promotional cards that could be found at gas stations and grocery stores during the 1950s and 60s. Koza also held a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

Players would compare the numbers on free cards included in supermarket newspaper ads. If a given card matched the sequence of symbols in the ad, the winner would receive money or food.

Koza worked on the game’s probability aspect and became intrigued by the idea of an instant lottery scratch-off game with significant monetary prizes. After losing his job, Koza decided to try to develop this concept on his own. He felt it would be popular among punters but knew he would have to convince lottery officials to adopt it.

Koza joined forces with a colleague and pitched the idea to lotteries across the country. The pair’s first retail run was in Massachusetts in 1974. The scratch-off was labeled an “Instant Game” and featured a main prize of $10,000.

Up to that point, lottery players in Massachusetts were buying $1 million worth of tickets weekly. After instant game’s first week, sales shot up to $2.7 million. This was the beginning of instant games’ widespread adoption across the United States.

Koza’s new company was called Scientific Games, and it is still in business today, providing a variety of lottery products – including instant games – to lotteries across the US and other countries


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