Can you increase your odds of hitting it big on scratch-off lottery tickets?

Big lottery jackpots have been making headlines lately, and if you're still waiting to hit it big, there could be a way to increase your odds or at least keep you in the know on what's available.

There are dozens of scratch off games in the Tri-State Area and the nation each year, and they are increasingly popular among those looking to get rich quick.

"It's the possibility of an instant win," said Van Denton, director of communications for the North Carolina state lottery. "You pay your dollar, you pay your $5, $10, right there in the store. You scratch it, you could win $500."

Hitting a $500 jackpot would be nice, and $10 million would be even better. But players should not be quick to judge a ticket by its title, because the biggest prizes advertised on those tickets may not actually be available.

That's because tickets can remain on sale after all of the top prizes have been claimed. Denton said there is a process for taking instant games out of circulation after all of the top prizes have been claimed, but that could take up to three weeks.

Retailers are allowed to continue selling those tickets until lottery officials collect them, but finding out which prizes are still available before purchasing a ticket is simple.

State lotteries post information about each game on its websites.
--CLICK HERE to see what's remaining in our local New York games.
--CLICK HERE for New Jersey
--And CLICK HERE for Connecticut.

The information includes how many prizes are available for each game, how much each prize is worth, and how many of each prize still remains.

Retailers can also look up that information at the store if anyone asks.

"I didn't know I could look to see what the actual prizes are that were still left, so that's very good to know," player Gina Chambers said.

Like Chambers, many lottery players said they had no idea this information was available -- but all of them say they plan to check before choosing their next tickets.

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