This story from CNN is interesting, it boils down to this, is it fair to sell you a scratch card if the lottery vendor knows that the top prize is gone? On the surface, it shouldn’t and it can even be an trade description problem since the vendor’s cannot fulfill the advertised promise of a chance of the top prize. On the other hand, some of the secondary prizes are still available….
It will be interesting to see how this fan out. Current lottery economics probably assume that a certain percentage of all printed scratch cards will be sold and priced it accordingly. If the lottery vendor has to pull all cards once the first prize is gone, that would upset the system and lead to higher scratch card price to reflect this uncertainty.
An old argument, i.e., that it is difficult to pull those scratch cards once they are out in the market is no longer valid today since any scratch card can be pulled in real time: Your lottery seller simply has to perform an additional check with lottery HQ when it swipe your scratch card barcode. More precisely, the same system he use to check your winnings can be used to check for card validity.
A compromise will be the publication of the scratch card results somewhere, probably online and at display till, to tell the customer that the top prize is gone, but other prizes remain for them to make an “informed” decision. Would it be a satisfactory compromise? I don’t know.