Feeling Lucky? This Single Dad Won $5K Playing Games on His Phone

A father helps his young daughter reach for climbing bars at a playground.
Oneil Campbell helps his 5-year-old daughter Annika reach for a playground bar in the neighborhood where he is buying a house in Worcester, Mass. Katherine Taylor for The Penny Hoarder
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When he got a phone call saying he’d won $5,000, Oneil Campbell immediately assumed it was a scam.

“At first, I was going to do what I usually do — hang up the phone,” Campbell says. “You always get these calls saying, ‘Oh, you’ve won a $5 million lotto, but you’ve got to send us a check for $1,000 first.’”

But he stayed on the phone just long enough to hear the caller mention an important word: “Lucktastic.”

Campbell stayed on the line. He frequently plays Lucktastic, a free app that generates virtual scratch-off tickets with real prizes. You can also play games and enter contests on the app.

Campbell had entered a Monopoly Boardwalk contest on the app — the $5,000 he won was no scam, after all.

The Lucktastic representative who called Campbell about his prize suggested that, to satisfy his doubts, Campbell could go to the Lucktastic app and contact customer support to find out if this was for real or not.

It was for real. Five grand in prize money.

“I didn’t see that one coming,” Campbell says with a laugh. “I really didn’t.”

But it was a welcome surprise.

“This is something good that happened to me at the right time — when I can really use it.”

A Home for His Daughter

A father and his young daughter look at plants in the yard of a house.
Campbell and his daughter Annika explore a butterfly garden on a property that he is buying with the help of $5,000 he won playing Lucktastic. Katherine Taylor for The Penny Hoarder

A 42-year-old native of Jamaica who now lives in Boston, Campbell knows exactly how he’ll spend his Lucktastic winnings.

It’s a big chunk of the down payment he’s going to use to buy a home for himself and his beloved 5-year-old daughter, Annika. He’s not sure yet how much he’ll need, but $5,000 will help him get there.

Campbell works in maintenance for a property management company. He spends his workdays fixing things that break in apartment buildings. He’s been trying to save money to buy a home, but it’s tough in the super-expensive Boston real estate market.

“Right now, I’m basically renting a room in a home,” he said. “I’m a single dad, and I have my daughter with me most of the time. She’s getting older. She needs more room — and I need more room.”

He’s looking at homes in the city of Worcester (which Bostonians pronounce “Wooster”), an hour’s commute from his job. “I can’t come up with $600,000 to buy a house in Boston,” he explained.

‘I Could Play It When I Was Relaxing on My Break’

A man plays a game on his mobile phone.
Campbell plays Lucktastic, a free app that generates virtual scratch-off tickets with real prizes, on his mobile phone. Katherine Taylor for The Penny Hoarder

Campbell first got into Lucktastic in early 2018. He had always liked entering contests and sweepstakes.

“I used to do that religiously,” he said. “But when life gets busy, you don’t have a lot of time to do these things.”

Lucktastic was easier. “I liked the fact that it was on my phone. I could play it when I was relaxing on my break, or whatever.”

The app offers free digital scratch-off cards. You scratch off the cards by holding your finger to the screen and swiping back and forth. Plus, there are a variety of contests, which are basically raffles where you’re entered to win a prize.

Lucktastic says you can win up to $10,000. It boasts 1 million winners who have taken home a collective $3 million to date.

Feeling Lucky?

A father holds his young daughter.
Campbell and his daughter in the backyard of the house he is buying in Worcester, Mass. His unexpected $5,000 win from Lucktastic is a huge step toward getting himself and his daughter out of his single rented room in Boston. Katherine Taylor for The Penny Hoarder

Of course, with anything that has to do with luck, remain realistic about the odds.

“For the instant win scratch-cards, the odds of winning depend upon the number of people playing the cards,” Lucktastic answers in its FAQ section. “For contests, the odds of winning depend upon the number of entries received.”

At the Better Business Bureau, the app gets some negative customer reviews from folks who complain about not making money. However, the company that operates Lucktastic, Jump Ramp Games, boasts an A rating from the BBB.

Several of us here at The Penny Hoarder have played Lucktastic and have walked away with $1 and some tokens, which you can use to enter contests.

Bottom line: You never know whether you’re going to get lucky.

As for Campbell, his unexpected $5,000 win is a huge step toward getting himself and his daughter out of his single rented room and into that house in Worcester.

“I’m working very hard to see if I can get a house so my little girl can have her own space,” he says.

Oh yeah, and he still plays Lucktastic.

“You know I’m hooked on this [app] now, right?” he says with another laugh. “I’m constantly on the [app].

His reason is simple: “Everyone likes to win free stuff. It could happen for you, too.”

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s lucky.