London - Even when your husband is a super-rich Arab politician, a heavy loss at the card table is going to hurt.
So when Nora Al-Daher lost £2 million in a disastrous night at the Ritz, she decided to hit back.
She is suing the Piccadilly casino for “taking advantage of her gambling addiction”.
The 50-year-old says staff at the landmark London hotel knew of her problem, but encouraged her to keep playing and cashed extra cheques from her.
“I needed someone that night to tell me to stop playing and bring me to my senses,” the 50-year-old told the High Court in London.
“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.”
Al-Daher, who is married to Omani foreign minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi, had lost heavily at other casinos before arriving at the Ritz on the evening of April 3, 2012.
Her barrister, Robert Deacon, said she made it clear she was a gambling addict, was on a losing streak and did not want to play.
“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.
Deacon said when she reached her £1.7 million cheque limit, staff raised it to £2 million.
He added: “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 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.”
Al-Daher lost her money playing punto banco, a type of baccarat based purely on luck.
“If they had not given me more facilities that night, I would have had to stop playing,” she said. “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.”
The case reached the High Court after the Ritz sued Al-Daher for £1 million, alleging it is owed that amount because some of the cheques she handed over that night were not honoured.
Al-Daher says the casino’s claim should fail because it wrongly allowed her to gamble on credit, which is illegal, and she should get back the £1 million she did eventually pay out.
The casino denies Al-Daher’s accusations and insists she was not put under any pressure to place more bets.
Its barrister, Clive Freedman QC, pointed out that, nine months after she lost the money, Al-Daher had honoured £1 million of the debt, without coming out with the complaints she is now making in court.
Roger Maris, chief executive of the Ritz, told the court it was not unusual for a high-stakes gambler to have their cheque facility increased.
Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn on Thursday reserved his judgment in the case.