Why People Play California Lottery Scratchers

Extreme Green. Mystery Crossword. Love to Win. Year of the Monkey. Holiday Surprise. CA Lottery 30th Anniversary. Set For Life. Silver & Gold. These are all of the California scratchers that I’ve tried playing thus far. I know, I know. I’ve said in my not-so-distant past that I don’t see the point in playing the lottery. I’ve also said that playing the lottery is essentially throwing money away (or donating money to public education, depending on how you want to look at it). Inevitably, due to curiosity, I decided to try out these California lottery scratchers just for the hell of it. In the past, I’ve never really understood why these scratchers were such a big deal to a lot of casual players. After playing it once a week since towards the end of January 2016, I think I can kind of take an educated guess as to why people play them. It’s simply addictive in that you can instantly win something merely by scratching off a ticket and seeing what’s underneath. And unlike draw games that make you wait until the actual draw date, you’ll know if you’re a winner the same day that you’ve bought the scratcher or not. Plus, all California lottery scratchers can be entered into their 2nd Chance pool for an additional draw of a weekly prize.

Admittedly, my very first scratcher was the “Year of the Monkey” scratcher because I’m Chinese and this was the only scratcher that really appealed to me out of all of them when I decided to give these scratchers a try. And on my first go by spending $1 at a liquor store (Valley Market in the city of Walnut), I won myself $5 by accident. It was at that point that I felt “Hmm…I guess I can keep playing if I break even or win more than I had initially invested.” The following week, I had bought myself Holiday Surprise scratcher and a Silver & Gold scratcher at the CVS near my home in Lincoln Heights for a total of $15. As it happens, I broke even on that play. I won a ticket for the Silver & Gold and exactly $5 on the Holiday Surprise. (It was a $1 that I had scratched off and the number multiplier underneath happened to have been a 5x). Then the following week, I tried playing one Extreme Green for $20, which was a losing ticket. I didn’t win anything that time. The week after that, I tried playing another $20 on this new game called “Set For Life.” I bought ten $2 tickets and I only won back $3. Still, that was better than the single losing ticket of Extreme Green the previous week. After that week, I tried out 2 Silver & Gold tickets the week after. First ticket was a losing ticket and the second ticket won me $20. I broke even that week. Then I ended up trying out the CA Lottery 30th Anniversary ticket for $30 a pop the week after that. Wow, that’s expensive. Interestingly enough, I won $50 on my first try, then a free ticket on the second try (same scratcher), and then a losing ticket on the third try. That $30 scratcher is definitely the one scratcher that made me believe that I can win more. I. Am. Officially. Hooked. $50 is, by far, the most I’ve ever won from playing scratchers. Since then, I’ve been alternating between playing $20-30 a week on scratchers and only just recently, I decided that maybe the upper most maximum that I’m willing to spend a week on scratchers is possibly $60. That’s a lot of money. I don’t even spend that much on eating out and that’s saying a lot about my spending habits. I’m generally quite frugal with my money. I can never really justify paying $50 for a meal, even if it is a fancy dinner at some upscale restaurant. My tastes aren’t that expensive. I’m quite happy with an under $10 meal that fills me up and that is tasty enough. Anything more is nice to try out but not entirely necessary.

Upon researching these scratchers on the internet, I find it rather amazing that there aren’t more people writing articles of their lottery experiences. Save for the couple of dedicated lottery forums I’ve found and mentioned in my previous post, there just seems to be a general lack of personal blogs or general media websites that talk about the lottery.

There are certainly players who go on YouTube to record their “plays” with each of the lottery games, but there aren’t really any dedicated websites otherwise that talk about it, you know what I mean? I might be missing something here, but it seems as if there is a kind of stigma when it comes to talking about the lottery. It’s like talking about gambling. Gambling at, say, a casino? That’s just straight up gambling. Sports betting at a race track or on an online website (like betting on basketball teams, football teams, baseball teams, etc)? That’s a lot like playing roulette at a casino. But playing the lottery is a bit different than the above types of gambling games in that you don’t have to be at said establishment to play those games. You can play them, quite literally, just about anywhere where the lottery is sold: convenience stores, liquor shops, gift shops, gas stations, supermarkets, etc.

Unlike casinos or race tracks where you’re being watched by security 24/7, with the lottery, you can just buy and leave whenever you want. Some may want to argue that this contributes to gambling problems or people with gambling addictions. I can write a whole essay on why I think that people with gambling addictions (or any addiction, for that matter) is total bullshit, which I won’t get into here on this entry. I will say though that unlike substance addiction (like those that you smoke, consume, inhale, eat, or otherwise ‘inject’ into your body through some physical means), the garden variety “addiction” aren’t subject to the same afflictions as the crack head that can’t kick the habit. Crack heads on drugs have real afflictions in that there’s an actual substance that is consumed in one form or another that circulates within one’s body that makes it extremely hard to stop doing it through sheer will. Gambling addicts on the other hand? They are just people who consistently choose those habits that are obviously not in their best interests. And while both originate with that single, seemingly non-harmful choice, the main difference is that one is afflicted by an actual substance that changes their brain chemicals (and thus their behaviors), while the other involves consciously choosing the same thing to get that dopamine rush or whatever it is that makes them feel good about themselves for engaging in said activity.

Having said that, let us return to the topic at hand. I can certainly see the appeal of playing the California lottery scratchers but as a frugal spender, it definitely won’t be something that I’ll get so hooked on that I feel the need to invest all of my life savings just to get that dopamine fix. I have plenty of other options to get my dopamine fix and in less destructive ways for that matter. Reading, for instance, gives me that. Debating also gives me that same feel-good feeling. Writing about it on this article has the same effect. There are literally limitless possibilities to get my dopamine fix and playing the lottery is just one of them. And hell, if I win something like a million bucks while I’m just playing it for the fun of it and not with the intent of winning anything, why the hell not, you know what I mean? As long as I keep it to within my budget, playing the lottery doesn’t have to have this negative stigma attached to it.

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One thought on “Why People Play California Lottery Scratchers

  1. The problem is that you can keep it on your budget which will be different for every person. But temptation to win big prize keep you playing and push you toward buying more scratches. little by little you do not have time to scratch all part other than the front bar codes to be read in scanner to find out if you are a winner!!
    So we cannot play in our budget because it make us addicted , instead scratches should be played occasionally one or twice per month.
    I remember that in one day I played $1500 scratches even I have lost $300 that day I was tempted to buy more scratches to win biggest prices ( one million to five million dollars).
    I recommended no body play in her or his budget only two scratches per month may be safe.

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