The Ritz casino in London has been taken to court by the wife of an Omani politician who lost £2m in one evening for allegedly ‘taking advantage’ of her gambling addiction.
Nora Al-Daher, 50, claims that staff at the Ritz were aware of her gambling problem but actively encouraged her to keep playing on the club’s punto banco table for hours in April 2012.
She claims The Ritz should have stopped her playing but instead extended her credit facility.
At the High Court she said: “I needed someone that night to tell me to stop playing and bring me to my senses. 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 was told that Mrs Al-Daher had already visited several casinos that recording substantial losses at before she played at The Ritz.
The case against the Ritz Hotel claims its staff ‘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.’
Her lawyer, Robert Deacon, said of The Ritz staff: “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. 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.’
Mrs Al-Daher added: “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. 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 has originally taken legal action against Mrs Al-Daher chasing £1m that had not been honoured.
Ritz Chief Executive Roger Maris added: “She was a very good customer for us. 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 1999 and April 2012, The Ritz received more than £20m in buy-ins from Mrs Al-Daher.