Pull tab games can be casually described as a paper slot machine. It is a specially printed card about the size of a business card with slot type symbols printed on the inside (bars, bells, 7’s, cherries). It is similar to a lottery scratch off ticket. Pull tabs, or just “tabs or tickets,” are opened by pulling perforated tabs (hence the name) on the back of the card. The opening created by pulling the tab open is called the “window.” The pull tab may have one large tab (one window ticket) or as many as 6 individual tabs (6 window ticket).The front of each tab will show the price, the symbols required to match in order to win, and the quantity of winners for each prize. A winning pull tab, for example, may require three 7’s in a window to be a winning ticket. Nearly all manufacturers identify winners by putting a line through all the symbols and print the cash prize amount in the window.
The different names listed above are common and are actually descriptive. The term break open or rip-offs describes the act of literally breaking open the ticket or ripping the tabs. Instant bingo describes the act of winning instantly after opening the tabs. The term pickles originated from games that displayed pull tabs in large pickle jars.
Pull tab games are manufactured in a very specific quantity called a “deal” (4000 tickets for example). Each deal has a different serial number similar to, and for the same reasons mentioned earlier for bingo paper. A deal of 4000 tickets may contain 500 – 1000 winning tickets or more. There are several top and intermediate prize amounts and usually hundreds of small winners. Current manufacturing processes make it impossible to identify which tickets are winners or where they are located in each deal. Manufacturers also use varied techniques to randomize the winning tabs within each deal.
Pull tab games are sold at bingo games in a variety of ways. Some games may have a sales area or pull tab counter offering a wide variety of different tabs. This variety of tabs may include several different tabs for each common denomination or selling price of $.10, $.25, $.50 or $1.00. Other games use selling agents that push a custom designed cart throughout the playing area or simply carry them in trays or aprons. Posters, called flare cards, are usually on display in the playing area for each tab. These flare cards show the same information that is on the front of each ticket (price, prize amount, and total number of winners of each prize amount).
Prizes for pull tab games increase as the price per ticket increases. A $.25 ticket may have a top prize of $135 but a $1.00 ticket can be as much as $500 or more.