A UK high court judge has dismissed claims by Noora Al Daher, the wife of the Omani foreign minister, that she didn’t need to pay the $3m she owed the London casino because she was a gambling addict
An “unimaginably rich” Saudi heiress who lost £2 million ($3.3m) in one night of gambling at a London casino has been ridiculed by a high court judge and ordered to pay everything she owed, according to British media.
Noora Abdullah Mahawish Al Daher, the daughter of a wealthy Saudi and married to Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi, was sued by The Ritz hotel’s Piccadilly casino after cheques that she used as credit while playing a card game, totalling £1 million ($1.66 million), bounced.
Al Daher, 47, launched a counter-claim, arguing that staff wrongly allowed her to gamble on credit. She claimed she was a gambling addict and should be given back the £1 million ($1.66 million) she had already paid.
But UK High Court Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn threw out her case, saying she was fully responsible for her actions, the Daily Mail has reported.
Judge Llewellyn said the loss was no catastrophe for “Princess Nora”, as she is known.
He said her wealth was so extreme she had once had £6 million transferred into her account over a period of 10 days after claiming she “needed it to pay for the kids”.
Two months after her losses in London, she and her family lost another £3 million in Las Vegas, the court heard.
“Mrs Al Daher is a person of wealth unimaginable to the ordinary person and, I suspect, to many of moderate or substantial wealth,” Judge Llewellyn reportedly said.
“The enormous sums she gambled and the enormous losses she sustained were within her means.”
It took Al Daher just hours to reach her £1.7 million cheque limit playing the card game punto banco – a type of baccarat at the Piccadilly casino on April 3, 2012.
At her request, the limit was then extended to £2 million. She also lost the addition amount, while also giving out £14,000 in tips to the dealer and other staff, the Daily Mail said.
During the case, Al Daher argued she had been a “vulnerable” gambling addict since 1999, and casino staff were at fault because they had “positively encouraged” her to keep playing when she reached her limit.
“I refused to deal with the thought that I was a gambler and, for that matter, a high roller,” she told the court.
“I always felt that I was in control and could stop whenever I wanted to... I needed someone that night to tell me to stop playing and bring me to my senses.”
But Judge Llewellyn said she had given no sign that her gambling was out of control and she did not present any medical or psychiatric evidence to show she was a gambling addict.
She had been a regular at the casino and often spent “outrageously”.
“She exhibited no signs of distress, irritation, anger or loss of control that evening,” Judge Llewellyn said in his verdict.
“It is striking that she and her family gambled away five million US dollars in Las Vegas in June, some two to three months later.
“The scale of her wealth... is an inescapable feature of this case, as is the fact that, for those with the means to do so, it may be acceptable, or even enjoyable, to ride the roller coaster of losses.”
He rejected claims that Mrs Al Daher had been given credit in breach of gaming rules.
Al Daher, who lives in Muscat, was ordered to pay the £1 million she owed, plus interest.