Pro punter’s unusual defence for ‘unpaid’ gambling loans

A PROFESSIONAL gambler is suing another poker player to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars that he claims he and some of his family are owed, as a result of a series of loans.

But James Hopkins is defending the claim, saying that professional gambler Aidan Hildebrandt knew he had a ­serious gambling addiction, which meant he did not have capacity to enter into a contract when he and others lent him money to gamble.

Mr Hopkins, of Ormeau, claims Mr Hildebrandt was with him when he lost $100,000 in one night at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

Mr Hildebrandt, his brother Dylan Hildebrandt, his mother Cristina Hildebrandt and her partner Sarah Newton are suing Mr Hopkins and his ­online gambling company Pocket Punting Pty Ltd.

Aidan Hildebrandt, of Albany Creek, and Mr Hopkins met while attending poker tournaments and Mr Hildebrandt later introduced him to his brother Dylan, the claim says.

In January, 2018, Mr Hopkins asked Aidan Hildebrandt if he or his brother could loan him money so he could participate in a Melbourne poker tournament, it is alleged.

Aidan Hildebrandt gave Mr Hopkins $10,000 cash at Melbourne's Crown Casino and Dylan Hildebrandt transferred $30,000 to his bank account, the claim says.

Under the loan contract terms, the $40,000, plus $14,000 interest, were to be repaid within three months.

The claim outlines a series of 12 loans to Mr Hopkins, who allegedly asked for extra funds or loan variations or loan debt consolidations over 10 months.

It is claimed Mr Hopkins ­repaid some parts of the loans or reconsolidated them along the way, but still owes $400,450, including "late fees''.

The plaintiffs want the court to order Mr Hopkins to pay the money, plus interest.

In a court-filed defence, Mr Hopkins denies he is a semi-professional gambler and says Pocket Punting ceased trading in July last year.

While Mr Hopkins admits he has previously participated in poker tournaments, he says he suffers from a serious gambling addiction, anxiety, depression and ADHD.

While he admits he had asked Mr Hildebrandt for loans for gambling, he disputes he owes the amount claimed, saying he has already repaid a total of $98,770.

Mr Hopkins's defence alleges that he did not have the legal capacity to enter into the loan contracts because of his gambling addiction and mental illness.



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