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Jersey Joe’s Easy Tip to the Ultimate Holiday Gift [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

Still racking your brain looking for that perfect holiday gift? Here is my ultimate go-to when you need a present that’s thoughtful, quick and could actually put money back in your pocket!  There’s no need to rack your brain or worry about shipping or standing in long lines. It’s good for just about everyone from family to co-workers. Time is running out for your holiday shopping and my blogumn is here to help!

So, as soon as your are done reading this – head on down to your local news stand or grocery store and pick up a pack of instant scratch off lottery tickets!

Look how happy this woman is with her gift of a strip of instant lottery scratch off tickets!

You can be the hero of their holidays if they hit a big cash jackpot! With a simple $10 or $20 you can give a gift that can keep on giving. In a pinch, you can even get a nice holiday card or envelope and stuff a bunch inside. You can give them to your boss, a friend, or your grandmother. (Mine loves getting them!)

I’ve done this for years, even giving to co-workers in the past. I was given a stack for my birthday this year and I kept winning over and over. It was a great feeling. I played for a few months by winning free tickets and small cash amounts that I simply cashed in for more. It’s up to the player how they want to spend their winnings, but the odds are pretty good they’ll at least receive a free ticket.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Lottery airs this holiday classic commercial, that is simply revised every season (or as of last year, redone shot for shot in high definition.)  The ad agency simply overdubs the new games to match the original jingle.

Lotteries have enabled governments to fund all types of public services from education, to senior citizen meals, to defense.  The earliest form of a recorded lottery was in 205 BC China using Keno slips.  Keno, which is still played in casinos today, is a numbers game where a player will wager on a certain combination of numbers drawn via a predetermined lot.  The more numbers matched, the higher the payout.

This player has just won a free ticket.

The first lottery in the United States was in Virginia in 1612 to raise money for settlers to form the first permanent colony in Jamestown.  State lotteries rose in popularity starting in 1962, when New Hampshire established the first modern era version.  Now, 44 states offer some sort of lottery game.

Besides offering numbers games, many states offer the instant tickets as well.  In 1974, Scientific Games Corporation invented the first computer generated instant game.  The first official patent was awarded to Astro-Med, Inc., of Warwick, Rhode Island in 1987.

Most instant scratch off games require matching three like prize values or symbols on the ticket.  More complicated games can require scratching off a better blackjack hand than a predetermined dealer, or scratching off more runs on a predetermined baseball diamond.  Some games will have more than one way to win and most games start off with a free ticket as the lowest prize.

When scratch off tickets first appeared, they usually only required a $1 or $2 to play.  More complicated games can now cost $20 or more, but offer much larger prizes that in some cases are paid off over several years.

In some states, it is possible to simply avoid playing the game at all, by scratching off a code at the bottom or scanning a bar code.

Over the past decade, companies have developed gag gift versions that look and feel just like a real ticket and give the player the illusion they have won a great prize.  While, these are mostly not sold at authorized lottery retailers, for a few bucks you can be cruel and trick your friends with one of these tickets – just be prepared for the consequences!

And whether you’re buying or giving a ticket, just make sure to read the complete rules.  You don’t want to accidentally throw away a jackpot by scratching off everything when the rules say to scratch a limited number of spaces.  Read the back of the ticket to make sure you understand everything before playing.

A woman scratches off a stack of South Dakota Lottery tickets, she's received as a Christmas present.

THE 411

What: instant lottery game tickets
Cost: $1 and up
Prize: free tickets to large cash jackpots
Availability: most state lotteries sell some form of these tickets

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:

So, there you go… my tip for a quick and thoughtful gift for the holidays.  Good luck to you and your friends. I hope someone out there scores a large cash win!  Maybe they’ll end up with a handful of losing tickets, but there’s always the chance that someone will walk away a winner.

As The New York Lottery says: “Hey, you never know!”

Image credits: Nick Fundley, jeffc5000, jmoneyyyyyyy, & the queen of subtle