ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Missouri lottery scratchers entertain millions of people across the country and make some folks millionaires. The scratch-off tickets are created just north of Atlanta, Georgia at Scientific Games. The instant win tickets make more money for Missouri than Powerball and Mega Million combined.
The executive director of the lottery May Scheve Reardon said people in Missouri love scratchers. "About 64 percent of Missourians buy the tickets," she said.
A huge printing machine creates the tickets. It`s more than half a football field long. Twenty different layers make up each of the Missouri instant win tickets. Different colors are added, six of the layers are for security. Joe Bennett a vice president with Scientific Games said, "They`re typically designed to make sure that you can`t shine a flashlight through the back of the ticket and somehow see the data."
There a lot more to it, inside the company`s security lab employees spend their days trying to a break a ticket, much like a dishonest person would try to scam a casino. Bennett said, "We have to make sure we stay ahead of those people who would try to cheat."
Workers use common household items like and iron or chemicals including vodka to determine if those products could change a losing scratch into a winner. Or, if somehow a player could see if it`s a winner before the ticket is purchased. Employees also check questionable winning scratchers to find out if they have been tampered with.
Bennett said, "It`s our job we have a lot of chemist, mathematicians make sure that nobody can compromise the tickets."
Every month two billion lottery tickets are printed in the plant and they are shipped to other states as well as other countries. They are wound into big spools and stacked to the ceiling and then sent to 44 states and 50 countries. Missouri is a big customer.
May Scheve Reardon said, "Out of the 44 states that sell scratchers tickets we are at the 15th number level and the 25th in the world."
If a person placed the more than 250 million Missouri instant tickets sold year, side by side, they would stretch from St. Louis to Hong Kong and there would still be lots of tickets left over.
Four to 6 million tickets area created for the average $1 game and 60 percent of the cash goes to prizes.
Security is a priority at Scientific Games, more than 180 surveillance cameras focus on each employee`s every move. Former F.B.I. agents run background checks on workers. To make sure the game is fair and credible, multiple audits are done while the game is being produced. Bennett said, "There are a number of checks and balance that ensure all the prizes are in the game."
Stores make a small percentage from sales but the tickets do bring in the business. Bruce Mackay is a clerk at the 7-11 in Maryland Heights. "Probably ninety percent of the people that buy scratch-offs or lottery tickets buy other things also it enhance other sales," he said.
It`s no secret the odds are against winning it says so on every ticket, still folks play.
May Sheve Reardon said, "There is a huge future for scratcher tickers." Players one day purchase and scratch them on the internet. Twenty dollars is the most expensive ticket in Missouri, some states plan to sell really expensive ones. Bennett said, "We are planning to do a $100 game."
People in the Midwest are conservative and Missouri Lottery officials expect to keep $20 as the highest priced ticket for quite a while.