A THIRD of National Lottery scratchcards currently on sale have already had their top jackpot prize won.
Players could be paying up to £5 for a scratchcard in the hope of winning a jackpot that no longer exists.
National Lottery organiser Camelot currently has 50 scratchcard games listed online as active.
These can be purchased in shops such as petrol stations and newsagents or played on the National Lottery website.
A scratchcard can cost up to £5 and punters can win top prizes ranging from £100 to £1.2 million.
But some players may not be aware that the windfall they are trying to get is no longer available.
Only a certain number of cards offer the advertised jackpot and no more packets are sent out to retailers once these have been won.
The number of remaining jackpots for each scratchcard is shown on the National Lottery's website and you can also check how many top prizes can be won.
But many players may be unaware of this when making a purchase.
Of the 50 scratchcards currently on sale, 15 no longer have the maximum jackpot prize available.
For example, you could pay £5 to get a scratchcard game offering £100,000 a month for a year.
This would give you a total prize of £1.2million but the National Lottery website shows none of the five top prizes are left.
You can still play a separate game to try to win £150,000 a month, or £1.8million, but there are just two of the four top prizes remaining.
Some games such as Cash Drop, which offers the chance to win £100,000 on a £2 scratchcard, only have one top prize left.
There may still be lower value prizes available on these cards.
Other games such as the £100 Bonus scratchcard still have 5,369 top prizes remaining.
The Sun first uncovered this issue in 2017 when we found eight out of 42 live games had one top prize left and two had none of the main pots available.
Shops are still allowed shops to sell rolls of the cards already activated for sale and on display to customers instead of alerting retailers to immediately to remove them.
A roll can hold 150 cards meaning that tens of thousands of jackpot-less cards could be still bought by the unsuspecting public.
Lottery bosses said they do tell retailers when jackpots have been won and flash up alerts on media screens in stores. This can also be checked online.
A Camelot spokesperson said no new packs of scratchcards can be put on sale after a top prize worth more than £121,000 has been won.
The spokesperson said: "National Lottery scratchcards have a wide range of prizes available.
"Even when there are no top prizes or only one top prize remaining, there are still loads of others available to be won from the remaining prize pool."
How to check how many top prizes are left
The National Lottery website lists all its live scratchcard games.
The regularly updated list shows the name of each scratchcard, the price, top prize and how many jackpots are remaining.
Each individual card has a different number of top prizes available when it initially goes on sale.
If you click into each card you can see the full number of prizes available and how that breaks down into individual prizes.
For example, its £100 Bonus game has 1.7milllion £2 prizes, 462,844 £5 prizes and 225 individual £100 prizes.
In contrast, its Triple Jackpot game has 406,301 individual £5 prizes but just three chances each to win either £100,000, £250,000 or £1million.
Officials at Camelot had appealed urgently for the holder of the ticket, which won the UK Millionaire Maker's top prize, to step forward.
If you don't fancy playing the lottery, meet the savvy saver who has revealed how to get £500 of free cash from the government.
Also see how you can give your child £18,000 on their 18th birthday by saving just £1.67 a day.
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