Scratch Card Games vs. Online Slot Games at BetMGM Casino

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A white slot reel with the gold letters “V I P” on it. Behind the reel, there is a scratch-and-win ticket with a gold coin. The two objects are against a dark mustard background.
BetMGM May 15, 2024, 10:36 AM

With so many casino games online available these days, choosing the right one can be tricky. Slots are unquestionably the most popular option, though scratch cards aren’t far behind. 

There are several similarities between the two, which means many players enjoy both. However, as you’ll discover in this blog post, there are also several clear differences.

What Are Scratch Cards?

Scratch cards were pioneered in the mid-1970s by John Koza and Daniel Bower. The first game was sold in Boston in 1974, and the format has remained largely unchanged ever since. 

They are called this because the player literally scratches off a surface coating to reveal many hidden symbols. If your card contains a winning combination, you’ll receive a prize. If not, better luck next time.

Online scratch card games follow the exact same methodology, only they’re played on your computer or smartphone. The “scratching” takes place virtually with a fun and interactive mechanism, though it’s usually possible to disable this and receive an instant result.

What Are Online Slots?

The history of slot machines goes back much further, to the late 1800s, in fact. These mechanical contraptions required players to pull a lever that would spin a number of reels bearing different symbols. 

Similar to scratch cards, the idea is to match a certain combination of symbols, resulting in different payouts. Early games contained fruit symbols and were dubbed “fruit machines” as a result. 

Over the years, and especially after moving into the online space, slot machines have become increasingly complex, with more reels, rows, features, and jackpots added.

How the Two Compare

So, how do these games actually compare? The key similarities and differences are outlined below.


Online scratch cards almost always have a set structure. Match a certain number of a specific symbol to win a predetermined amount. For example, in Merlin’s Millions, a popular scratch card at BetMGM Casino, there are eight different prizes. Three Merlin symbols award the highest payout of 1,000x your chosen stake, while three of the potion bottles pay 5x.

Slots, on the other hand, tend to offer a wider range of possible prizes. The larger reels mean more possible winning combinations. What’s more, some of the very best slot machines to play online feature a jackpot. 


There are two main types of jackpots: fixed and progressive. With the former, a predetermined figure is paid if you land the required combination of symbols. However, the big jackpot slots, such as MGM Grand Millions, use a progressive mechanic that deducts a tiny percentage from every bet. These small amounts are continually added to the pool, which can result in rewards of more than a million dollars.

Return To Player (RTP) Rates

In terms of overall RTP, scratch cards tend to pay out much less. Physical cards can be as low as 60% to 70%, with online games in the low 90% range. For online slots, 96% is considered the average.


When playing at a casino online, betting comes in all shapes and sizes. There are many different games, all offering their own unique bet types. Choosing the right one comes down to personal preferences.

Scratch cards are among the simplest casino games. All you need to do is scratch to reveal your prize. Many games don’t even require the effort of virtually scratching, offering immediate results. That’s great if you’re looking for instant gratification, but many gamblers enjoy the suspense other games offer. 

Those players might prefer slots, as you have to work a little harder for your prizes. First of all, the reels have to spin. Even if you speed the game up by engaging a “turbo” mode, this process is slower than scratch card results. 

To win the biggest prizes, you often need to trigger some sort of bonus round containing funny or dramatic animations, sounds, and games. Players may also need to interact, making choices that affect how the feature plays out. It’s no surprise that some of the top slots of all time offer more complex bonus games and unusual payout mechanics to keep players engaged.


The biggest similarity between slots and scratch-offs is that neither requires skill to play. There’s literally nothing you can do to influence the outcome of either game. Slots are usually more complex and sometimes offer the illusion of skill, but the outcome is determined by random number generator software. 

You’ll need to manage your slot bankroll with care, just as you would for scratch cards or, indeed, any form of gambling. There’s certainly plenty of skill, patience, and discipline required in that department. But in terms of improving your chances of winning, both games are pure luck.

Entertainment Value

So, there’s no strategy involved in slots or scratch cards. As such, the two main factors when choosing a game are obviously how much you could win and how enjoyable it is to play. This is true for both, but there’s more room to make slots more entertaining.

The instant nature of a scratch card means that the game is over as soon as it’s begun. If you don’t win, it can be disappointing. There isn’t much entertainment aside from a brief moment of suspense. But with slots, it’s possible to simply play a game for fun — often for long periods — even if you don’t necessarily win a prize. 

Obviously, when playing online slots, real-money wins are a crucial consideration. But ultimately, much of the fun lies in actually playing the game, regardless of success. This explains the recent rise in sweepstakes casinos, where players “gamble” with fictional tokens instead of cash. 

There’s also the option to play real money slots for free in demonstration mode. This is really to help players learn how new games work, but it can be a source of entertainment on its own.


In terms of physical slot machines and scratch cards, the former are probably harder to come by. After all, many newsstands, gas stations, and stores carry scratch cards, but you’d need to visit and join a casino to play slots.

However, the opposite is true online. Slots are the most popular form of gambling in physical casinos, so it’s no surprise that this is also true at their internet equivalents. Online slot machines, therefore, usually make up the bulk of a casino’s game catalog.

Most online casinos have at least a few hundred slot titles. But even at the world’s biggest casinos, it’s rare to see more than a dozen or so scratch card games in the library.

Hit the Jackpot With BetMGM Casino

Whichever you prefer, BetMGM Casino boasts a sizable selection of video slots and scratch cards, plus plenty of other popular games. That’s just one reason that makes it the best online casino for U.S. players.

Don’t forget that you can also use your BetMGM Rewards points earned online when you visit physical properties and play casino games within the legal states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan. Register at BetMGM Casino today and discover a fantastic selection of slots and instant-win games.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.