As UAE prize draws are suspended, what were the chances of winning?

Becoming a millionaire would have been as easy as purchasing a ticket for Dh25

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Raffles and prize draws have been a widespread phenomenon in the UAE, drawing in tens of thousands of participants hoping to win life-changing jackpots.

However, dreams of winning a life-changing sum of money are having to be put on hold as operators have been instructed to pause business inside the UAE from Monday.

An “industry-wide mandate consistent with the regulators’ new role to create a well-regulated gaming environment” was cited as the cause.

Previously, residents have been able to win anything from a few dirhams to Dh200 million with companies such as Mahzooz, Emirates Draw, Big Ticket and Dubai Duty Free.

Mahzooz and Emirates Draw have confirmed that activities have been suspended.

However, Big Ticket is still selling tickets, saying they were not going to pause activities.

"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.

So, as hopefuls can no longer buy tickets for some of their favourite prize draws or raffles, The National asked: how likely was it that a ticket buyer would walk away a winner?

Mahzooz – Cash prize: up to Dh20,000,000

Khaled Nader, a UAE-based high school maths teacher, said winning a raffle or draw is simply down to the balance of probabilities.

“Probability is the chance for an event to occur and when it comes to raffles and draws, it depends on the criteria,” he told The National.

He said it comes down to a variety of factors, including how many numbers need to match, or in the case of a raffle, how many participants take part.

Mahzooz hosted a weekly raffle every Saturday, unveiling winners based on selected numbers. To play, individuals needed to purchase a minimum of one water bottle priced at Dh35, with each bottle serving as an entry card.

Players could purchase an unlimited number of bottles.

“The higher number of tickets [purchased overall in a raffle], the less chance of winning – and vice versa,” Mr Nader said.

Mahzooz also allowed players to pick five numbers out of 49 for a chance to win cash prizes.

Matching numbers drawn by Mahzooz determined the prize amount, with varying rewards based on the number of matches.

If you matched all five numbers, you could take home the grand prize of Dh20 million, whereas matching four, three or two numbers rewarded players with shared cash prizes of Dh150,000, or individual wins of Dh35.

Mahzooz also ran weekly draws, awarding Dh100,000 cash prizes to three winners.

“The odds vary from an approximately one in 1.9 million chance to win the grand prize,” Mr Nader said.

However, if the requirement had been to match all five numbers in the same order as they were drawn, the probability of winning would rocket to more than one in 228 million, but fortunately that was not the case.

“For the best shot at securing a win, aim for the smaller prizes or less complicated games to increase the odds of walking away with bigger prizes,” said Mr Nader.

Emirates Draw – Cash prize: up to Dh200,000,000

Like Mahzooz, the Emirates Draw offered three prize categories based on cost, with entry prices starting from Dh15 for the Easy6 draw, Dh25 for the Fast5 draw and Dh50 for the Mega7 draw.

The most expensive category – the Mega7 draw – awarded up to Dh200m in its weekly draw. For the raffle, it guaranteed 15 winners, with each receiving Dh10,000.

Players could either choose seven numbers out of one to 37, or have their numbers randomised.

The prize was shared among a number of winners, varying from Dh7 to Dh200m.

“The odds are approximately one in 10.3 million chance of winning the grand prize,” said Mr Nader.

Because Mahzooz and Emirates Draw offered low-cost draws, Mr Nader said the probability of winning cash prizes was low “because that's the nature of the game”.

For the FAST 5 draw, where players had to match five balls out of 42, the chances of getting all five was around one in 850,000.

“The only guaranteed win in Mahzooz and Emirates Draw is the raffle because a participant is sure of his or her name being a potential winner among other participants,” Mr Nader said.

“Then if you are lucky enough, your name gets picked out,” he said.

Big Ticket – Cash prize: up to Dh20,000,000

Another popular raffle game in the UAE is Big Ticket which takes place monthly. Historically, the grand prize is announced on the 3rd of every month, and additional draws are held weekly (known as weekly electronic draw prizes or weekly e-draw prizes).

A car is also given away on the 3rd of every month.

Tickets are still available for its draws.

The Cash Draw Big Ticket – costing Dh500 per ticket – offered a prize of a 24 carat gold ingot and/or a cash prize.

If players purchase two tickets, they receive a third for free.

The dream car raffle ticket, prized at Dh150, offers the opportunity to win a luxury car, such as a Range Rover or BMW.

There is an Dh10,000 limit per customer per month for purchasing tickets to enter the raffle

As tickets that do not win can be returned to the draw for the chance to win additional prizes, chances of winning are higher than raffles where there is a one-time opportunity to have your ticket number chosen at random.

Dubai Duty Free draw – Cash prize: up to $1,000,000

Dubai Duty Free also offers a raffle where participants can purchase multiple tickets across three categories.

Players can enter the Millennium Millionaire raffle, which costs Dh1,000 per ticket and is limited to 5,000 tickets, making it a one in 5,000 chance of winning $1 million per ticket bought.

The Finest Surprise Car raffle was Dh500 per ticket, with only 2,500 tickets available, while the Finest Surprise Bike raffle will cost players Dh500 per ticket, with only 1,200 tickets available.

The chances of winning are one in 2,500 and one in 1,200 respectively per ticket bought.

Winner announcements take place at the Dubai Duty Free shopping complex once all tickets are sold, which usually occurrs every two to three weeks.

Eight players found themselves holding the winning ticket more than once.

“Both Big Ticket and Dubai Duty Free operate as draws which guarantees a winner with the probability of winning directly linked to the number of players,” said Mr Nader.

Mr Nader said that while both draws featured a higher ticket cost compared to Mahzooz and Emirates Draw, they also allowed players to purchase an unlimited number of tickets, so while chances are still not high, they are higher than when buying just one ticket.

“This means that individuals [could] increase their chances of winning by buying multiple tickets,” he said.

Updated: January 03, 2024, 7:48 AM