The United Arab Emirates has launched its first official digital lottery on April 18, following a three-week delay. The lottery is available to individuals over the age of 18 and offers up to $13 million jackpot weekly.
UAE Launches First Lottery in the Country and Globally
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has opened the first fatwa-denominated digital lottery in the country. During its inaugural draw, a lucky resident won AED 350,000 ($95,000). The first draw was expected for March 28, but it was postponed as further regulatory approval was needed and COVID-19 had just hit the country. Despite the delay, all tickets were purchased even ahead of the draw, beckoning a strong interest for the lottery. The draw took place on Saturday, April 18 instead.
Emirates Loto is available globally and to any player over the age of 18 and players can purchase tickets via the dedicated mobile app as well as at thousands of retail stores in the UAE. Each ticket can be purchased for $10. The premise of the ticket is simple – you can buy it and not participate or enter a “free draw” if you prefer.
Tickets grant all participants an opportunity to win up to AED 50 million jackpot every week – roughly $13 million or DH 35 million. The lottery also allows consumers to donate their tickets away to charities and let non-for-profit organizations try to win the prize instead.
To fill out the ticket, players need to pick six out of 49 numbers and a prize will be allocated to them based on how many matching numbers they have. Emirates Loto wants to give an additional incentive to winners by guaranteeing at least AED 350,000 if any five numbers match.
The lottery will also donate millions away to help the UAE government advance community projects and other public-good initiatives. According to Paul Sebeysten, the Emirates Loto director, the lottery was a result of a “drive for innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Does Sharia Law Allow Gambling in This Form?
The lottery is also Sharia-compliant as it is held with a private license from Abu Dhabi. According to Sebeysten, participation in the weekly lottery is option, and people who have purchased the collectibles – tickets – don’t even bother participating.
As per Sharia principles, there needs to be an exchange of value, which is where the collectibles are used. Sebeysten further noted that one of the objectives of the lottery was to raise funds for people and community.
Across the world, national lotteries continue to raise money for health, education, social services and pension funds. The lotteries in the United States were originally established to help the local government cover social expenditures.
In Switzerland, gambling is a monopoly and the authorized operator feeds directly into the state’s pension fund.