'Shattered dreams': UAE residents grapple with Big Ticket pause, plan to find alternate draws

Big Ticket is the third major raffle draw operator that ceased operation, with Dubai-based Mahzooz and Emirates Draw also pausing since January


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 2 Apr 2024, 12:24 PM

Last updated: Wed 3 Apr 2024, 12:32 AM

Long-time buyers of raffle tickets have reacted with shock after The Big Ticket announced a temporary pause in its operations. Some said that their “dreams have been shattered” while others said they were unsure what to do with the money they set aside for buying raffles.

“I first thought it was an April’s Fool prank,” said Rajeev Augustine, an Al Ain resident, who won Dh15 million earlier this year. “But then when I saw the news on Khaleej Times website I understood that it was real. I am shocked, to say the least.”

Big Ticket is the third major raffle draw operator that ceased operations. Since January 1 this year, Dubai-based Mahzooz and Emirates Draw have also temporarily paused.

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The architect has been buying the Big Ticket raffle for the last four years along with a group of friends. “I am heartbroken to be honest,” he said. “I know the difference it made in my life and I am sad that it will be a while before someone else gets this life changing chance.”

Despite winning the raffle recently, Rajiv shared that he was continuing to buy the ticket on a regular basis until now. “It became a part and parcel of my life,” he said. “Some of the people in my group who won have now moved on but I still have a group of around 15-20 people who all pool in and buy the ticket every month. Now I don’t know what I will do the money I used to set aside for the raffle. I might look into another online raffle or some other investment opportunity but right now I am still grappling with the news.”

Shattered dreams

For Indian expat Sabith, buying raffle tickets has been a way of life for over seven years. Working as a driver in the UAE, he said it was a source of hope for him. “The 30 days from one ticket to another, I would see 30 different dreams,” he said. “It is those dreams that have been shattered now. I am really hoping that the raffles across the UAE will restart again because it is a source of hope for us that has been inspiring us forward.”

According to Sabith, he has several groups of friends with whom he usually takes the raffle. “Every month, I have a fixed amount that I set aside for buying the ticket,” he said. “I spend either Dh100 or Dh150 on it, depending on how many friends are buying. Now that all the raffles have been paused, I am afraid I will just end up using the money on buying clothes or food or unnecessary things. Maybe I will put it towards buying a new phone.”

One of the people who always pitches his share in Sabith’s ticket is his father. “My father has been working in the UAE for over 30 years,” he said. “Recently, one of our friends won big money with a raffle. Since then everyone including my father have been religiously contributing towards it. I have not yet told him that all the raffles have been paused. I know he will be heartbroken because we often discuss about what we will do if we win the raffle. He dreams of settling back home and building a house. I think I am going to let him live with those dreams for a little while longer.”

Alternate options

For Dubai resident Nijo, the hunt is on for yet another raffle draw. “Initially, I used to take the Big Ticket with 10 friends,” he said. “Then I switched to Mahzooz, which I used to take with three of my friends because the ticket prices were cheaper. One of my colleagues hit the jackpot with Mahzooz so we were even more invested in it.”

However, now that three raffles have been paused, the IT professional is on the hunt for another raffle. “Now, one of our few remaining options is the Dubai Duty Free raffle,” he said. “However, that ticket is more expensive. So I will have to find 19 other people to share it with. The prize money is less than the private raffles though. So we are still discussing, how to move forward.”


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