Ivan Yates has revealed that he buys his cars by gambling on horses and football games.
In a stark admission that is sure to have gambling addiction support groups up in arms, the popular broadcaster said he places sizeable bets once every decade to drum up €40,000 for a car – rather than get tied up in loan-to-buy schemes with motor finance companies.
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“We have a policy for our main family car, because [my wife] Deirdre drives and I don’t with my back and so on – for long journeys I lie in the back – so once every 10 years we change the car,” said the Newstalk presenter.
“We drive it till it drops. I don’t do anything through [finance] companies or benefit-in-kind, so once every 10 years I have to raise a humongous amount of money, up to about €40,000, to pay for a car. So what I do is I line up a bet, no word of a lie.”
The presenter then went on to explain how his first car was bought on the back of a hurling tip from a minister.
“In 2006 [former environment minister] Phil Hogan said to me ‘I am just after coming from Nowlan Park training ground’. Cork were favourites in the final to beat Kilkenny and he said ‘this Kilkenny team will go through that wall. They are definitely going to win on Sunday’. So I backed them enough to win a Volvo car,” said Yates.
“And then the car was up to be renewed last year. Deirdre said ‘we have to get a lovely Skoda car, one of these nice ones’, and €36k [had to be raised] to pay for it.
“We were getting rid of the old Volvo, which had been to Wales and so on. It was clapped out, because I am not into cars. I met Aidan O’Brien at the Breeders’ Cup when I was on my year off and so I was talking to him and he said ‘look, I am going to give you one horse that is going to win the 2000 Guineas. It’s the best horse I have ever trained, Churchill. And I backed it to win €36,000 so I called the car ‘Churchill’.”
Asked what sum of money he had to gamble in order to win the five-figure sum, Yates joked: “You need to talk to my auditors, accountants, my tax advisers, consultants and all that. I would have to shoot you if I told you.”
He then went on to describe how a special gift – an expensive coat for his wife – was also named after a winning steed, Gunga Din. “I said to Deirdre ‘that coat is called Gunga Din’. We won a lot of money on a coat she got one day.”
The winning horse was named after a character in the famous Rudyard Kipling poem which contains the lines: “Though I’ve belted you and flayed you, By the livin’ Gawd that made you, You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”
Yates added: “So sometimes I use a nickname on the basis of the circumstance [in which I got the car or a piece of clothing]. I don’t need to buy another car for 10 years.”
Asked what he would do if his bet didn’t win, he replied: “Aidan said this wouldn’t be beat and it wasn’t beat. He wouldn’t say that very often. He might only say it once every 10 years.”
On taking the risk, Yates, who recently celebrated becoming Newstalk’s most listened to presenter, helping the station to its highest ever market share, said: “You need ice cold [blood]. This only happens once every 10 years.”
However, Yates’s winnings are not the norm for gamblers in this country. Latest figures show that the vast majority of people have not been so lucky – and for those who have been lucky, their good fortune eventually runs out.
Ireland now has the third highest per capita rate of gambling losses in the world. As a nation, we lose about €470 per adult a year on different forms of gambling.
In 2016 alone, gambling losses in Ireland totalled €2.1bn. The research by industry experts H2 Gambling Capital was published in The Economist and showed Ireland behind only Australia and Singapore in gambling terms.
About half of the gambling losses in Ireland come from online, with traditional betting the second most popular method.
Meanwhile, Problem Gambling Ireland, which is dedicated to reducing gambling-related harm, says that in the last three years alone it has had 100,000 unique visitors to its website.
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