Update: It could be you (if you’re a competing prize draw operator)…

In January we reported on the news that Mahzooz had “paused operations” in accordance with a request from regulatory body, the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority (GCGRA), which likely meant they were competing for a contract to operate a National Lottery.

Will there be a National Lottery in the UAE

After halting its live draws on January 1, 2024, Mahzooz, which means ‘lucky’ or ‘fortunate’ in Arabic had this to say on their website “in compliance with applicable commercial gaming regulations, Mahzooz will temporarily pause operations from January 1st, 2024. 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.”

When will the UAE National Lottery start?

An article that appeared in Khaleej Times confirms via a source in the industry that the “UAE will have only one national lottery operator. The license will be awarded by the GCGRA within the first quarter of 2024.”  The same article confirms that Mahzooz and Emirates Draw have both entered the ring to become the sole license holder.

Following the successful bid announcement, there will likely be an interim period (of, at present, an indeterminate) period of time for the operator to set up its own frameworks and receive the green light from a GCGRA sign-off.

Are there any prize draws still currently taking place?

Abu Dhabi’s Big Ticket has been observing a “temporary pause” since April 1, 2024.

Those still keen on duels of fortune can still enter Millennium Millionaire draws run by Dubai Duty-Free.

How will the National Lottery contract bid be decided?

The one thing we’re certain of is that the selection process for determining the eventual bid winner will not involve putting the names on small plastic balls, spinning them around in a giant machine and then pulling one out at random. A lottery to determine lottery operators is just a bit too meta.

Aside from the traditional business plan formats detailing financials, any successful bid for operating a National Lottery will likely include provisions for being able to demonstrate an ethical business ethos and human-focused operating culture; plans for reinvesting a certain amount of the profits into the community (approved charities as well as small scale, grassroots community action and public grants); applicants will need to be able to show security measures in place to prevent manipulation, fraud and data theft; the potential operator will also likely have to demonstrate how its policies align with the vision and cultural currents of the host country.

Note that the above is not in anyway taken from GCGRA applications, it’s more a summary of the license application requirements from other countries with a National Lottery.

Millions of millions

According to the Mahzooz website – since starting operations, the popular prize draw has created 64 millionaires, given away more than half a billion dirhams to around 1.8 million winners, and through a community outreach programme has funneled funds into education, healthcare, and the environment that has “benefited 10,000 individuals”.

Images: What’s On archive