A scratchcard (called a scratch off, scratch ticket, scratcher, scratchie, scratch-it, scratch game, scratch-and-win, instant game or instant lottery in different places) is a small card, often made of thin paper-based card for competitions and plastic to conceal PINs, where one or more areas contain concealed information which can be revealed by scratching off an opaque covering.
Applications include cards sold for gambling (especially lottery games and quizzes), free-of-charge cards for quizzes, fraudulent free cards encouraging calls to premium rate phone services, and to conceal confidential information such as PINs for telephone calling cards and other prepaid services.
In some cases the entire scratchable area needs to be scratched to see whether a prize has been won—the card is printed either to be a winner or not—or to reveal the secret code; the result does not depend upon what portions are scratched off. In other cases, some but not all areas have to be scratched; this may apply in a quiz, where the area corresponding to the right answer is scratched, or in some gambling applications where, depending on which areas are scratched, the card wins or loses. In these cases the card becomes invalid if too many areas are scratched. After losing one can scratch all areas to see if, how, and what one could have won with this card.