This idea came from Julie and Ian Shepherd, who run Castle Stores in Mow Cop, Stoke-on-Trent. Julie writes: “I was wondering if you could follow this up with other independent stores and to see if this could help increase sales both for ourselves and Camelot, as I’ve noticed a lot of independents like ourselves not displaying the full range of scratchcards.”

Their idea is to program the machine as a pay-as-you-go one so that instead of having to activate a full pack (mostly costing £250 per pack), you just pay for the ones you sell, as and when you sell them.

“At the moment,” she says, “you can either pay for them in full straight away or they automatically settle after 30 days or 60% of winnings have been claimed, which most little shops can’t afford as most of the cards don’t sell straight away.”

I put this to Camelot and a spokesperson replied that, with 46,000 retailers selling millions of Scratchcards every week and all of the logistics/processes that involves, their proposal wasn’t that straightforward.

“We try to be as flexible as possible, which is why we give retailers the option to pay for the pack upon activation or at a later date - as the Shepherds say, this is after 30 days or once 60% of the prizes have been claimed. In most circumstances, this second option means the retailer has sold at least half of the Scratchcards in the pack before they have to pay - although obviously there are exceptions.”

She added that Camelot could organise for a smaller dispenser to be fitted, or arrange for them to receive lower price point Scratchcards only.

Julie retaliated with another question: “How does the machine recognise that at least half of the pack has been sold to claim 60% of the prize money when they don’t know where the prizes are and what card number I’m on?”

Camelot replied that prizes are randomly distributed. “However, based on the odds of each individual game, we can estimate that there will be a certain number of low-tier winning Scratchcards (with prizes of £20 or less) within a particular pack. So, while a retailer doesn’t scan the Scratchcard to sell it, they have to scan the Scratchcard to pay a prize - so our system will be able to see whenever a prize is claimed from a particular pack (and therefore determine approximately how many cards have been sold). Once 60% of these estimated low-tier winning Scratchcards have been scanned, the system knows to charge for the pack (if payment has not yet taken place).”

Camelot visited the Shepherds and they agreed to keep the same size dispenser, but having different cards. No more £10 cards and the rest evenly shared between the £5, £3, £2 and the £1.

Most interestingly, Julie was told that their idea had been “flying around Camelot”. She insists that she doesn’t want a smaller dispenser. She wants to sell more.