MILLIONAIRE businessman and racehorse owner JP McManus has revealed he battled a gambling addiction in his youth – and blames a "gene" in him that meant he "wanted to gamble all the time."
In a frank admission, the 61-year-old – who has a personal wealth estimated at €775m – said his life once "centred around gambling" and how he'd "bet on anything if I could find someone to bet with me".
"Looking back – and as a friend pointed out to me – you change the addiction to gambling to one for winning. It's not the gambling that's important, it's the winning," he said.
"If you can change the addiction, you become more controlled, more conscious. You have to have discipline and temperament."
In a rare public comment on his tax status, the racehorse magnate – who owns a 400-acre stud in Limerick but is tax resident in Switzerland – denied he was a 'tax exile', saying: "For me a tax exile is somebody who leaves the country in order to avoid paying a particular tax that was due in the country.
"If you leave the country and you don't want to come back – you don't want to do anything here – then you're an emigrant.
"If you go abroad and do well and you decide you want to come back, you're an exile. But people think differently on these things."
He also criticised the residency rules which means he must spend less than 183 days a year in Ireland, or 280 days over two years.
"The biggest difficulty I see is when you are entertaining people. You'd like to bring them to Waterville, or the like. But when you bring them, you've got to be there – so you have to block that time out. Instead, you can say to yourself, 'It's a bit difficult with the time, let's bring them to play golf in Scotland or somewhere else'. And it's a pity, it doesn't achieve anything. It's a negative effect," he said in an interview with 'The Limerick Leader'
Having successfully battled prostate cancer which he was diagnosed with in 2008, Mr McManus, pictured below with US president Bill Clinton, says money is no longer his principal motivation and he has no ambition to "die a wealthy man" – but would "like to have enough to live for the rest of my life".
"I just hope I can live for as long as I can – healthy and well. I enjoy what I do. I don't do anything I don't enjoy doing. If that's business, or in the office – I'm just happy."
He also said he feels pity for developers who overstretched themselves during the Celtic Tiger years, and believes he has been hit more than most by the economic collapse.
"Do I blame developers? That's the game they were in. It's hard to blame them."