UAE raffles and prize draws put on hold from January 1

Mahzooz and Emirates Draw among companies affected by gaming review

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People who hope to hit the jackpot on any of the UAE's prize draws will have to put their dreams on hold as operators have been instructed to pause business from Monday.

Previously, players have been able to win anything from a few dirhams to Dh200 million with companies such as Mahzooz and Emirates Draw.

“In compliance with applicable commercial gaming regulations, Mahzooz will temporarily pause operations from January 1st, 2024,” the operator said.

“The pause is a result of an industry-wide mandate consistent with the regulators’ new role to create a well-regulated gaming environment in the United Arab Emirates.”

Big Ticket confirmed to The National that it will continue operations.

"You can still buy your lucky ticket from our website or Abu Dhabi International Airport and Al Ain Airport counters," they said.

Dubai Duty Free also continues to sell tickets, and lists on its website two sold-out draws due to take place on Wednesday.

The National has approached Dubai Duty Free for comment.

In September, the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority was established in the UAE.

There is no set date for when the raffles will begin operating again.

Paul Chader, head of commercial at Emirates Draw, said they were "very pleased" at the introduction of the GCGRA.

"We look forward to working with them in establishing a well-regulated gaming environment in the UAE," he said.

"To that effect we are temporarily pausing our activities in the UAE as of January 1, 2024, assuring all our customers that we will be showing a duty of care towards the protection of all their prize awards outstanding.”

According to the Emirates Draw website, customers can withdraw any account balance with no minimum amount.

It also said participation and new account registration were suspended only for players from within the Emirates.

"The temporary pause in accepting new registrations for Emirates Draw affects players from inside the UAE. This decision is made based in line with regulatory directives that affect our ability to accept new registrations," said the website.

Both Big Ticket and Dubai Duty Free websites continue to offer tickets for sale.

The National has approached them for comment.

Article No 355 of UAE law considers all forms of gambling a criminal offence. It includes lotteries, and punishments that could result in imprisonment, fines, or both.

Some exceptions to the lottery laws in the UAE have meant that some companies authorised under the Ministry of Economy have been permitted to conduct raffles and prize draws.

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Updated: January 02, 2024, 12:39 PM