gambling
A dealer collects chips at a roulette table inside a casinoReuters

Swiss property tycoon and businessman Safa Abdulla Al-Geabury has blamed the devil for his gambling addiction, as the Ritz Club in Mayfair seeks to recover more than £2m (€2.8m, $3.1m) in dues from the billionaire.

Al-Geabury, 52, in February 2014 blew £2m at the casino in two hours. He wrote a cheque for the entire amount, but it bounced.

The Ritz Hotel Casino, which owns the club, later filed a lawsuit seeking to recover the sum plus £200,000 in interest on the dues.

Al-Geabury, who rents homes in Sloane Street and Chelsea in London and in Geneva, claimed in the High Court that he was a gambling addict, and the club should not have allowed him to play. By letting him play, the club had unlawfully breached the terms of its gaming licence, he said.

Al-Geabury is also counter-claiming £3.4m, or £5.4m in the event that the judge decides against him – the sums he lost when he gambled between October 2010 and February 2014.

The club's barrister, Clive Freedman QC, told the High Court that Al Gearbury had told a psychiatrist that "the devil made me gamble".

He added that Al Gearbury had "boasted" to a member of the casino's staff that he had enough wealth to pay off his debt, including his collection of Islamic art and diamonds.

Al Geabury, who speaks through an Arabic interpreter, said his wealth was relative as he owned no palaces or yachts. He added that he no longer dealt in gems, was not a foreign exchange dealer and had no collection of classic cars or antiques.

The hearing is due to last five days, and the court will now seek evidence from psychiatrists about the extent of Al-Geabury's disorder and if the club's staff knew about it.