The United Arab Emirates also known as UAE, is a country that in the Middle East is part of the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is a country that is made up of seven emirates that are located in the Peninsula. The UAE shares its borders with some of the biggest countries in the middle-east – Oman, Qatar and Iran. UAE is a sovereign absolute monarchy that is a federation of the seven emirates. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. Each of the emirates is governed over by rules and together, they, make the Federal Supreme Council.
The history of
lottery in United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is an Islam nation and all its constitution laws are built around this. This goes for the betting and lottery laws as well. Any and all forms of gambling are banned by Islam and this has laid the foundation in the way the lottery laws have been shaped in the country. In most of the jurisdictions (Emirates), the topic of gambling is highly controversial and there are constant discussions about limiting gambling and lottery in the nation. Officials are highly concerned with the effect that exposure to gambling could have on young people and minors. Especially in terms of leading to gambling addictions. Because of this, the UAE government has made it clear that they do not promote gambling and lottery activities in the nation. However, under the law, few exceptions have been made. But overall, all on-shore and offshore gambling are banned for the residents of the UAE.
The legalities of the United Arab Emirates Lotteries
The UAE laws have made certain exceptions when it comes to conducting games in the country. Operators and companies are allowed to have lotteries and conduct competitions within the UAE. All lottery and competition operators are required to receive approval from their jurisdiction’s regulatory department. The UAE laws also allow operators to conduct bets on selected instances such as shooting games, trials of strength, sports, and racing.
The Operators have to qualify in order to be able to run any kind of competition, lottery or betting venture in the UAE. They have to:
- Prove and assure that they have sufficient funds to give away prizes.
- Have assurance of the individual who would give away the prize.
- Have clear understating of the scope of the competition.
Along with accepting these requirements to qualify, operators have to assure that prizes will be given away based on the skill and efforts of the winner alone without any other support. No person shall be given a prize in any content or race where they have not won the prize from their own skill. If done so, this kind of prize distribution would be considered to be outside the realms of the lottery laws. This would be an illegal act and the perpetrator will face punishment as directed by the legal provisions.
The Various Gaming Laws in the UAE
The UAE has many local regulations that prohibit it from gambling and advertising on gambling. There are laws that both, directly and indirectly, deal with the various aspects of gambling to ensure that there is not promotion. The laws state that ban on activities such as gambling have been laid out not only because it is against the Islamic beliefs, but also because it is considered to be an immoral act that could harm the public and lead to gambling addictions. These regulations on gambling are not limited to the state of UAE alone but also extends to extra-territorial applications. The UAE Penal Code states that any game where parties involved agree to pay the winner a sum of money (i.e. loser pays to the winner) would be deemed to be gambling and will be a punishable offense. The person charged with the offense may face a high fine or long-term imprisonment in extreme cases.
The Penal Code of the UAE strictly prohibits setting up any gambling games or games of chance in public places or gambling ventures. Any person or entity who does not abide by the rule will face a two-year detention or a fine of up to 20, 000 dirhams. This also includes online gambling. The Cyber Crimes Law of the UAE states that any person or entity that is setting up, running or managing a website; sending money, transmitting prizes in the name of gambling, publishing or re-publishing any gambling acuities via computer networking would be going against the public morals. The law further explains that creating, producing, preparing, transmitting or saving content for the purposed of exploitation, display or distribution of prizes to the public on a computer-based network will also be considered as going against the public morals.
The UAE laws also have strict regulations on the media corporations and require that the companies abide by the standards and regulations laid out by the law. With regard to advertisements on Gambling, the law states that no ad should offend God, Islamic beliefs and respect all religions, no ad should publish and propagate any information that may harm any community in any way. The broadcasting of gambling and lottery issues is also governed by the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. The telecommunications regulatory has also set in place practices of its own under ‘Policy of Internet Access Management’. Under this policy, service providers are required to block access to websites that have any illegal content on them. This also includes gambling websites. All gambling websites will remain blocked in the UAE under the policy laid out by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority.
The exceptions and warnings
There is no ban on horse racing in the UAE. Horse racing is one of the most popular and loved sports for the people of the nation. This game has the support of all of the rulers of the various realms within the emirates. The first horse racing game was held in October 1981. This game was organized by the ruler and prime minister of Dubai at the time, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. This led to the establishment of the Dubai World Cup; which is the richest horse race in the world. The World Cup attracts some of the wealthiest people in the world to participate and watch even today. Watching horse racing is one of the primary attractions in Dubai for tourists as well.
The second exception that the law has is with regard to betting on sports. The United Arab Emirates conducts a series of cricket tournaments where many international teams compete. Because of many large-scale migrations of South Asian populations to Dubai and the IAE, cricket soon gained immense popularity as a nationally loved sport. This allowed for the success of the cricket tournaments held in UAE. Players should be warned that although there are bookmakers and websites that allow players to place bets on the sport, betting is strictly forbidden according to the country’s law.
The next exception in law is for the casinos in the United Arab Emirates. The residents of UAE are not banned from betting in online casinos. There are many online websites / online casinos that are available for the residents. These online casinos allow players from their respective regions and jurisdictions to participate in casino games. The online casinos are well-managed and enable the players to have a close to the real-life experience of playing games at an on-site casino. Over the past few years, many online casinos have cropped up in the UAE. This has increased the competition incredibly and has added many benefits for the players of the games. Online casinos have become successful because of the increase in technology and strong access to the internet across the nation. Any person with a computer system or phone, a solid internet connection, and a credit card can participate in the games offered by the online casinos.
Players who are interested is card cards such as rummy or poker should note that card games are also not allowed in the UAE. Players should take extra care because although card games are banned in the country, there are many illegal websites that offer card games for players. Illegal on-site card games are also very common in the UAE. If players are visiting the UAE, they should be wary of invites to any card games. These games attract players because they are the cheapest game to participate in with states as low as $15. However, the police are constantly on the lookout for any illegal card games. All players (residents or not) will be arrested and produced before the Dubai Court to face punishment. If charged, players could face serious punishment.
And finally, the last exception in the law are the lotteries in UAE.
UAE is known for its lotteries. The country gives away fantastic prizes and it is common knowledge that the lotteries in UAE give away large sums of money as prizes for their lotteries. In the month of October, the company Big Ticket conducts this lottery known as the “Sensational Big Ticket” with a grand prize of 1 million US dollars. Other than this large jackpot, players also have the chances of taking home 14 different cash prizes of varying sums. Players can purchase the tickets for this at 500 dirhams at the Abu Dhabi airport. Another popular lottery in the UAE is the Duty-Free lotteries that also gives away a large sum of money as a jackpot. Not only is this a millionaire maker, but the odds of winning this lottery also increased because a number of players are given prizes. Details on all the various lotteries available in UAE is discussed further below.
For the buyers to know
Age limit to play
There is no age limit laid out by law in the UAE with regard to the purchase of lottery tickets. Any person can play. There are differences, however, in different games. For example, according to the World Racing Club, players must be above the age of 21 to participate in the games. Whereas, in order to purchase lottery tickets such as the Big Ticket, there is no age limit. However, the valid acceptable ID to purchase tickets is a passport. Therefore, all players must have an approved passport for their resident country to purchase and participate in lottery games.
How and where to play the lotteries in UAE
Each of the lottery games has a different structure that they adopt in order to play. Each game is slightly different from the other. Discussed below is the game structure for the most popular raffle played in the UAE – The Big Ticket lottery. Players are required to purchase Big Ticket entries online or at the store in the Abu Dhabi International Airport. Each ticket will have a unique combination of six-digit numbers. This is the raffle number. The day of the draws is announced beforehand for players to be prepared and check for the results. Big Ticket has daily, weekly, monthly and annual draws. On the day the draw is being made, all the raffle ticket numbers that have been purchased by players are placed in a large drum. The winning number from the draw is selected completely at random. There is one ticket that is drawn that will take home the large jackpot prize. And there are also several smaller prizes offered as multiple ticket numbers are drawn from the drum. A specialty that makes the Big Ticket raffle interesting is that it has no limit on the number of tickets that were bought by one person. This increases an individual’s chance of taking home prize money. However, in raffles and lotteries where cars and bikes are given away as lottery prizes, players cannot purchase multiple tickets for a single lottery game. At the time of the sale, players will be informed about the number of tickets that can be purchased by one person and the total number of tickets that are being sold at the particular lottery.
Monthly draws have specific dates and times during when winners are announced. This schedule of the draws can be found on Big Ticket’s official website. For any of the lotteries or raffles conducted in UAE, players are advised to visit the official website. Tickets purchased from authorized lottery sellers are the only tickets that will be considered to be valid. Those who are traveling to Abu Dhabi can check if there will be any draws happening during the time of their visit. Once all the tickets have been sold, the company may choose to do special draws. This schedule will also be announced on the website. All draws are conducted at the Arrivals Hall of the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The number of tickets being sold may not be consistent at all times. The odds of winning a prize by the players will vary based on the number of tickets that have been sold for the particular draw. Only residents of UAE are allowed to play online. They can do this by creating a Big Ticket account on the company’s official lottery website. All tickets purchased online by the players will be delivered to them via e-mail with the next 24 hours. Players should note that if tickets have been purchased online, the delivery of the ticket via e-mail may take up to 48 hours. Alternatively, players can purchase the tickets at the Abu Dhabi International Airport, Ain Duty-Free, Ghweifat Duty-Free, Abu Dhabi City Terminal and the ADNEC Expo Check-in. While purchasing tickets on-site, players will display their passport as proof of identification. The ticket will be issued immediately once the proof of identity is verified.
Payments and costs of the lottery: The costs of the lottery tickets varies based on the game the player are interested in. It is not consistent across all the games. For example, there are tickets sold at the departure and arrival areas of the Abu Dhabi International Airports to passengers. These tickets can cost up to 1000 dirhams. This is for the Dubai Duty-Free Millennium Millionaire. There are also cash draws that cost players 500 dirhams. The prizes of the tickets vary based on the prize of the lottery. Lottery prices can cost 50, 100 or 200 dirhams.
Although UAE allows playing in online casinos for its residents, players should be warned all payments will be required to be done via the credit card. Players are also required to share their credit card details in order to register to play. Therefore, verification of the authenticity of the website is crucial. It is advised that the players do a thorough research about the online casino they are interested, speak with some of the current players and winners of the past before investing in the online casinos.
Kinds of lotteries
- Big Ticket – Big Ticket is a company based in the UAE. It established its store at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. The company was established in 1992 and has some of the largest and longest raffles draws in the world. The company is especially well-known for giving away luxury cars (Jaguar, Corvette, Ford Mustang, Mini-Cooper, Land Rover, BMW etc.) as the prize for the raffles. The highest cash prize that is given away to winners is 10 million dirhams for ‘THE BIG TEN’ raffle. Some of the other games offered include Super 7, Ultimate Big Ticket, Seasonal Big Ticket and other surprises in every month. Big Ticket also conducts seasonal and holiday draws that give away incredible prizes.
- National Bonds – National Bonds offer prizes that range from as low as 50 dirhams and goes up to 100, 000 dirhams. There are specific prizes set aside for women and minors.
A minimumpurchase of 100 dirhams must be done in order for people to win any money. To increase the odds of winnings, buyers sign up for a plan – those who do have the chance of winning twice in a 12 month period, thrice in a 24 month period and four times in a 36 month period. More the investment from buyers, more the chances of making money are.
- Dubai Duty – Free Millennium Millionaire – The Dubai Duty-Free Millennium Millionaire is a lottery that gives away the winning prize of $1 million twice a month. This prize is given if the lottery manages to sell a series of 5000 tickets in total. One person can buy any number of tickets. There is no limit on the minimum number of tickets purchased.
- Kunooz Savings Account draw – This Kunooz Savings Account draw gives away 1 million dirhams, 200, 000 dirhams or a luxury car. It also has daily prizes of 3,000 dirhams. This a lucky draw that is held for the customers of the Emirates Islamic Bank. The bank has a type of account known as the Kunooz Account. Customers of the bank who have this account and have a deposit of more than 1000 dirhams are entered into daily draw cash prizes. Customers who have 5,000 dirhams deposited are eligible for monthly draws that give away grand prizes.
- Mashreq Millionaire – Mashreq Millionaire is another bank run lottery draw. Here as well, customers are eligible for the draw based on the deposits made. There are no tickets to be purchased. The prizes given away here are; quarterly prize of 1 million dirhams and monthly prizes of 1,000 dirhams each, and three prizes of 5,000 dirhams.
For Winners to know
Claiming lottery prizes
The claiming process for winners varies based on the different lotteries. Shared below is the claiming process for Big Ticket – one of the most popular lotteries in the United Arab Emirates. All winners will be invited to the Etihad catering office at the Abu Dhabi International Airport to claim their prize. The offices at open for access from 8: 00 AM to 6: 00 PM Gulf Standard Time. At the time of the claim, winners are required to display the proof of identity they can share while purchasing the ticket. A passport is the most accepted proof of identity. For winners who do not live in the UAE, the prize money can be transferred to their bank account (they must have purchased the tickets themselves). Before transferring the money, Big Ticket conducts security checks to validate the winner’s claim to the prize. For winners living outside of the UAE who have won prizes such as automobiles, the winner must arrange for the export of the vehicle and all costs with regard to the export will be borne by the winner. The cars won here cannot be exchanged for cash value. Once the transfer of ownership is complete, the winner can choose to keep or sell the car.
Lottery and raffle prizes are not subject to any taxes. However, international players will have to pay the taxes as required by their country of residence.
The United Arab Emirates has strict laws and policies with regard to lotteries and gambling. Despite this, it offers some of the largest lotteries in the world. It is one of the very few lotteries that offer dream cars and bikes as lottery prizes. It is definitely worth looking into, especially if you are travelling there.