'I needed someone that night to tell me to stop playing and bring me to my senses,' Mrs Al-Daher 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. They should have discouraged me, but instead they took advantage of me.'
The politician's wife is no stranger to The Ritz casino, having lost over £7 million to the venue between 1999 and April 2012. Her barrister in this case, Robert Deacon, told the judge, Anthony Seys Llewellyn, that she had explicitly described herself as a gambling addict on her arrival at the casino, and had said that she didn't want to play Punto Banco. Instead of heeding those words, it is alleged that the casino extended Mrs Al-Daher's credit limit after she had already lost £1.7 million, making it possible for her to lose even more.
The casino denied that it had acted as Mrs Al-Dahar claims, and said that it was fairly common for high-stakes players to have their credited extended when the need arose. It also pointed out that she had settled half of the £2 million gambling debt without complaint, and the venue had only realised that the remaining cheques hadn't been honoured months after the losses were incurred.
It will be interesting to see what the judge makes of things when the case reaches its conclusion. On the one hand, we think that a self-confessed gambling addict could have probably made a more sensible decision than visiting a casino and effectively walking into a den of temptation. On the other hand, if the casino really did encourage Mrs Al-Dahar to continue gambling as she claims, we think that the venue may well need to share responsibility for the way the visit unfolded.
Public houses can and usually do refuse to serve alcohol to those who have clearly consumed too much already, so maybe casinos could take a similar stance by adhering to established credit limits rather than extending them for high rollers. After all, if a limit isn't really a limit, then why have it in the first place?
The hearing continues.