Play online lottery in Pennsylvania and Michigan now!

Pull-tab lottery games overview

What are pull-tab games?

Pull-tab games are a type of lottery game often referred to as break-open tickets. Each ticket contains at least one perforated tab that, when opened, reveals potential winning numbers or symbols. Pull-tab games are also called Lucky 7s, Popp-Opens, Instant Bingo, Break Opens, and Nevada Tickets.

How are pull-tab games played

In their physical form, pull-tabs are multi-layered paper tickets with symbols behind the tabs.

If a winning combination is pulled, the ticket can be exchanged for a cash prize. There are different ticket types, and pull-tabs are generally sold in denominations of $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, $3, and $5. Potential prizes can be as high as $5,000.

The pull-tabs often display the odds of receiving a payout. However, because there is only a certain quantity of each prize available within the total supply of tickets for a given game, the odds change each time a prize is won.

Naturally, when multiple major prizes are still available with few tickets remaining, people start buying a lot more as the odds are better stacked in their favor. On the other hand, if the major prizes have all been won, the game is usually retired and a new one takes its place.

Probabilities for pull-tab games

The probabilities of scoring a win vary by pull-tab game. As an example, let’s look at the $1 pull-tab game running in Kansas. Here are the number of tickets available for each prize.

Number of ticketsPrize
12$1,000
190$100
844$35
1,686$25
3,335$15
6,864$10
20,576$6
43,298$5
245,989$1

The probability of purchasing a ticket that contains any prize is 1 in 4.19.

How much can you win with pull-tab games?

Payouts vary between different pull-tab game. The top prize is usually in the thousands of dollars, with the highest amount around the $5,000 mark.

Where can you play pull-tab games online?

Some online lotteries, such as Michigan’s, feature a “pull tab” section on their website, but it only lists the locations of land-based retailers where a ticket can be purchased. The Georgia lottery website employs a similar approach.

Generally, if online pull-tabs become widespread in the United States, you’ll find them at one of the country’s legal online lotteries:

The current state of the industry

Today, more than 20 states offer pull-tab games.

Some states impose maximum restrictions. In Indiana, for example, the maximum amount that can be charged for a pull-tab ticket is one dollar, and the highest individual prize cannot exceed $599.

In Iowa, tickets are dispensed from secure vending machines located at restaurants and convenience stores. Prizes up to $600 can be redeemed on the spot; anything larger must be claimed at an Iowa lottery office.

In some states where pull-tabs have been particularly successful, such as Minnesota, pull-tab games can be bought 24/7 via vending machines nicknamed as Jar Bars. Every ticket is placed inside a transparent container with a poster detailing the winning combinations and the number of winning tickets available for each prize. Players draw one of the tickets out of the jar and check if they’ve won.