Saudi heiress ridiculed by judge in $3m Ritz gambling case

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
By Staff writer
Wed 20 Aug 2014 10:54 AM

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.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.