Posted by News Express | 3 July 2014 | 3,337 times
A multi-millionaire gambling addict who lost £2m (about N540 million) in one evening is suing The Ritz casino for allegedly “taking advantage” of her gambling addiction.
Nora Al-Daher, 50, frittered away her millions on the club’s punto banco table in just a few hours in April 2012.
But the glamorous Omani politician’s wife says it was all the club’s fault for failing to stop her playing and wants her money back.
At the High Court she is claiming that staff knew of her problem but stood behind her at the table encouraging her to keep playing.
As her losses mounted they even extended her cheque cashing facility, the court heard.
“I needed someone that night to tell me to stop playing and bring me to my senses,” she told the judge.
“If I had been told to stop, of course I would stop immediately. No one ever told me to stop or think about my gambling.”
The court heard Mrs Al-Daher, who lives in Muscat, had already suffered substantial losses at other casinos on the evening she arrived at The Ritz.
She told the court she had not wanted to play but just hours later she had reached her £1.7m cheque cashing limit and soon afterwards she was £2m down.
Her counsel, Robert Deacon, said she had made it clear to staff that she was “a gambling addict”, had made substantial losses elsewhere and did not want to play.
“But they paid no regard to her distraught demeanour or what she told them and did nothing to discourage her from gambling or to reflect on the wisdom of further gambling,” he said.
“She commenced gambling and, as her losses mounted, staff encouraged her to continue, saying she was going to win and that her facility would be increased to £2m.
“As her gambling continued, staff stood behind her with pre-written cheques which were provided to her until £2m was gambled and lost.
“Staff positively encouraged her when she was losing, saying ‘...anything for you, Princess Nora...we trust you...no problem...relax...don’t worry...next time you will get your money back...’.
“The Ritz Hotel and Casino Ltd failed to take any or any reasonable measures to prevent or mitigate the consequences or aggravation of self-inflicted harm by the assumption of control over her.”
In the witness box Mrs Al-Daher, wife of Omani Foreign Minister, Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi, said encouragement was the last thing she needed that night.
“If they had not given me more facilities that night, I would have had to stop playing. When I began to run out of chips that night and asked for more money, they said I had finished my facility,” she said.
“I asked for more money and they said ‘yes’. I continued to play from the same book and with the same dealer. They should have discouraged me, but instead they took advantage of me.
“Had it not been for all of the above actions of the Ritz and its employees, I believe that there was a real chance I would not have gambled at the Ritz on the night in question when I lost the £2m or would have stopped gambling before I lost the £2m.”
The Ritz originally sued Mrs Al-Daher for £1 million claiming that some of the cheques she handed over that night were not honoured.
Mrs Al-Daher retorted that the casino had allowed her to gamble on credit – which is illegal - so she should get back the £1m she did eventually pay.
The casino denies Mrs Al-Daher’s accusations and insists that she was not put under any pressure to place her bets.
Ritz chief executive Roger Maris told the court it was not unusual for a high-stakes gambler to have a cheque cashing facility increased and that it was not until months later that the casino realised the cheques were not being honoured.
“She was a very good customer for us,” he told Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn.
“There had been a very good history of paying. There was no thought in our mind that the cheques were not going to get paid.”
During her frequent trips to London, the court heard Mrs Al-Daher has been a regular in the capital’s casinos, often spending hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of pounds in one evening.
Between 1999 and April 2012, The Ritz alone had received more than £20m in buy-ins from Mrs Al-Daher, of which she lost more than £7m.
Mrs Al-Daher told the judge she first realised she was a gambling addict in 1999.
Locked in a vicious circle, she toured casino after casino but struggled to admit to herself that she had a problem, still less that she was a “high-roller”.
The hearing continues.
•Adapted from a London Evening Standard report. Photo shows Mrs. Nora Al-Daher, who lost £2m (about N.5 billion) during an evening gambling spree.
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