I sort of agree with that sentiment. I like to play games, and I'm pretty good at them, enough to have a reputation as someone who wins often. This makes me feel good, because I was able to win a lot of games on merit, and so I'm a "winner".
There are times, however, that I see someone beating me, and I'm thinking, "that guy can't beat me!" Now, I don't actually cheat, because I do have the attitude that playing with others is more important for the social interaction aspect, as well as maintaining an actual challenge for myself, but I definitely do have the feeling like I have to do "something" to win. It is sometimes hard to make myself call out an illegal move I made accidentally that no one else noticed and take it back, especially in a game where I have a reputation to maintain. So yeah, I see how this could be accurate.
So, I can totally see someone who is a winner at "business" or at "life" having even higher perceived stakes and an even stronger reaction. They're a "winner", so they *cannot* lose to someone who has proven to be a "loser" in the past. And I think it can start small like a cheat that was actually more of a slip-up than a planned move. They managed to get a stock tip that is technically illegal, but small enough that no one will know about. Then they test the waters and find out that there's no enforcement, so they assume it's "okay" and that they're just smarter than the losers and so they deserve to make the money or the victory at something. Soon, they're breaking the law right and left, and making money hand over fist. Sometimes they get caught, sometimes they get away with it.
I think that it is definitely the feeling that you have to maintain a reputation to maintain your self-respect. You can get hooked on success, and that's a problem because you can't always be successful.