Researchers at the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University New Brunswick’s School of Social Work, have found a link between the persistent trading of cryptocurrencies and problem gambling. Data was collected through a cross-sectional online survey and participants were all adults who had gambled on a monthly basis over the past year.
The study, which appeared in the journal, Addictive Behaviours, suggests that more than 50 percent of regular gamblers have traded cryptocurrencies in the past year. It found that trading crypto is linked to high risk stock trading and corresponds with a risk for problem gambling, depression and anxiety.
Much like playing a slot machine or watching a roulette wheel turn, the rapid fluctuations of the value of cryptocurrencies creates the possibility of a significant payout. Obsessing over the market offers a considerable level of excitement, akin to an amphetamine response in the brain. Problem gamblers are likely to trade cryptos more frequently due to their impulsivity and belief that they can beat the market.
Devin Mills, the lead author of the study said: “For some people, trading cryptocurrency is seen as an investment opportunity. But there is an alarming proportion of people who are ‘gambling’ on these cryptocurrency markets as they would gamble on horses or sports or slots. And it has the potential to get them into significant trouble”.
Help Available For Crypto “Gamblers”
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), gambling disorders typically begin early in life with men suffering at a higher rate than women, but help is now becoming more widely available. Some symptoms related to those who suffer from a gambling disorder are noticeable in those who need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired thrill, are restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop and have made repeated efforts to stop. Someone who is often preoccupied with gambling or has lost a significant job or relationship due to gambling and lies to conceal the extent of their gambling, might need help.
“People who trade cryptos look very much like those who trade high risk stocks such as margins and options,” said Lia Nower, co-author of the study. “Therefore, those who like risky stocks are also more likely to jump into the cryptocurrency trading market compared to those who, for example, invest in stocks over the long term”.