Mr Al Greabury is a Swiss national who also has a home in Mayfair, London. He maintains that staff at the casino were aware of his gambling addiction, and that the house therefore had a responsibility to prevent him from squandering his wealth at the venue. It is that question of whether or not the house was aware of the defendant’s addiction which is at the heart of the case, said Mrs Justice Simler and London’s High Court.
Regular readers who think that all of this sounds very familiar would be right, because there seems to have been a spate of multi-millionaires running up casino debts and then refusing to settle them due to alleged addictions. Last year Nora Al-Daher, who is the wife of an Omani politician and a multi-millionaire, sued the Ritz Casino in Piccadilly for ‘taking advantage of her gambling addiction’ and allowing her to lose £2 million playing Punto Banco. That was just one high-profile case of many, and casinos in London and across the UK are pursuing millions owed by players making similar claims.
The plea of ‘gambling addiction’ is easy to make after a big losing session, and we don’t think players would be as quick to complain had they had a big winning session, but the problem for casinos is how to reduce this situation arising in the first place. One solution might be for players to sign a disclaimer on entry to any casino which states that they are not suffering from a gambling addiction. Another could be for casinos to share a central register of problem gamblers and to exclude anyone on that list from participating in games.
The ideal solution, of course, would be for players with gambling problems to take full responsibility for their own actions, and to stay away from casinos in the first place. Problem drinkers aren’t allowed to default on their bar bill by pleading addiction, and obese people aren’t allowed to raid the cake shop and get away with it, so why should problem gamblers expect to be exempt from their losses?
It will be interesting to see what the court decides in the case of Mr Al Greabury, and the full hearing of this case is scheduled to take place at the end of this month. Watch this space and we’ll keep you posted on the outcome.