Chinatown, June 2014

scratch tickets

    discarded scratch tickets, downtown  (sonya kovacic)

discarded scratch tickets, downtown (sonya kovacic)

Scratch-off lottery tickets originated in Boston in 1972. As a way to increase lottery proceeds, John Koza and Dan Bower adapted the scratchable game cards used in grocery stores for the Massachusetts State Lottery. The scratch-offs were an instant hit in the city, and retailers quickly sold out.

The lottery is still huge in Massachusetts today. We spend almost $700 per capita on lottery tickets per year — the most in the country by nearly double.


About 20% of lottery revenue goes back to provide aid to Massachusetts cities and towns. This week, The Boston Globe introduced an interactive tool to measure how much each town spends and receives.