Muscat: An Omani politician’s wife and gambling addict is suing The Ritz casino after losing a staggering £2million at its card table.

Nora Al-Daher, 50, who lives in Muscat, blew her millions at the exclusive London club’s punto banco table in just a few hours in April 2012. But she claims she would not have lost the money if staff had not ‘taken advantage’ of her gambling addiction.

She told London’s High Court that employees had stood behind her at the table, encouraging her to keep playing the card game, despite having been made aware of her addiction.

As her incredible losses mounted, they had even extended her cheque-cashing facility, she said. ‘I needed someone that night to tell me to stop playing and bring me to my senses,’ the multi-millionaire told the court. ‘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.’–Daily Mail

Mrs Al-Daher, who is married to Omani Foreign Minister, Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi, had already suffered substantial losses at other casinos when she arrived at The Ritz on the evening of April 3, the court heard.

Despite allegedly telling staff she did not want to play, just a few hours later she had reached her £1.7m cheque-cashing limit and soon afterwards, she was £2million down.

Barrister Robert Deacon told Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn that Mrs Al-Daher had made it clear when she arrived that she was ‘a gambling addict’ and did not want to play punto banco. ‘The staff 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 £2million. ‘As her gambling continued, staff stood behind her with pre-written cheques which were provided to her until £2million was gambled and lost.

‘Staff positively encouraged her when she was losing, saying, ‘Anything for you, Princess Nora we trust you. No problem, next time you will get your money back’.’ He added: ‘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.’

Giving evidence, Mrs Al-Daher said encouragement had been the ‘last thing she needed’ that night. ‘If they had not given me more facilities that night, I would have had to stop playing,’ she told the court. ‘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 £2million, or I would have stopped gambling before I lost the £2million.’

The case reached the High Court after The Ritz sued Mrs Al-Daher for £1million, claiming that some of the cheques she had handed over that night were not honoured. But Mrs Al-Daher told the court the casino’s claim should fail because it had wrongly allowed her to gamble on credit, which is illegal. She said she had handed over cheques, which were only cashed if she lost, meaning she should be reimbursed with the £1million she eventually paid out.

However, the casino denies Mrs Al-Daher’s accusations and insists that she was not put under any pressure to place her bets. Clive Freedman QC, defending the club, pointed out that, nine months after she lost the money, Mrs Al-Daher had honoured £1million of the debt without complaint. Meanwhile, Ritz CEO, Roger Maris, told the court that it is not unusual for a high-stakes gambler to have their cheque-cashing facility increased.

He added that it was not until months later that the casino had realised that the cheques had not been honoured. ‘She was a very good customer for us,’ he said. ‘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, 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, the court heard.

Between 1999 and April 2012, The Ritz alone had received more than £20million in buy-ins from Mrs Al-Daher, of which she had lost more than £7million. Mrs Al-Daher told the court that she had first realised she was a gambling addict in 1999. The hearing continues.