Gambling with digital money: Why Bitcoin is more addictive than sports betting

Danger from cryptocurrencies

Gambling with digital money: Why Bitcoin is more addictive than sports betting
Cryptocurrencies appeal to those at risk of addiction in several ways (symbol image)

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05/05/2022, 19:42

2 min reading time

Most people associate cryptocurrencies with a way to make quick money. But this attitude makes speculating with the virtual coins dangerous. The risk of addiction is even higher than with other gambling variants.
And again 1000 euros more. Only 850 left. Should I get out now or should I buy more? Phew, the price is up again. Anyone who has ever invested in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether knows the intoxication of the rapidly increasing portfolio value. And the low after the crash. For some people, the real-time ebb and flow poses a real danger: they become addicted.
"It's the mix of the very rapid increase and the rewards that come with it," Lia Nower, director of the Department of Gambling Addiction at Rutgers University, told the Washington Post. She compares the appeal to that of scratch cards: "You scratch it up quickly, get the reward and the dopamine rush straight away."

Dangerous combination

The combination of potentially very high profits and the prices that fluctuate almost in real time results in a particularly treacherous mixture for people at risk of addiction. While sports betting or stock investments are restricted by the fixed time of the game or the close of trading, this does not apply to Bitcoin and Co.: They can be traded at any time. Because the courses also fluctuate much more drastically than with classic forms of investment, many investors are tied to their screens. After all, there could be a blatant rash at any time, where you could buy more coins or sell them at particularly high profits.
"Crypto awakens the darkest parts of your personality when you're addicted. Unfortunately, I'm a highly addicted person," admitted investor Joanna Garzilli to WaPo. She had lost tens of thousands of dollars in one day on a bad investment. And still continue to invest to this day.
In fact, studies show that this assessment may be correct. A Finnish study showed, for example, that investors specializing in crypto trading showed other excessive behavior patterns in gambling, internet use and others much more often than other types of investments. They also reported psychological problems, loneliness and stress more often than any other group. Further studies show that more than half of the gambling addicts surveyed also invested in cryptocurrencies.

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Crypto withdrawal

The psychologist couple Aaron and Lin Sternlicht offer targeted therapies for crypto addicts in New York. The requests from them have increased by more than 40 percent, they explained to the "Washington Post". The treatment is intensive but very expensive. The Sternlichts meet with those affected several times a week in intensive programs and also involve the families. The six-week treatment costs $25,000. This is similar to that of a gambling addict, explains Aaron Sternlicht. Because the addiction to quick digital money is not officially recognized as a variant of gambling addiction in the USA either, most of those affected pay out of their own pockets. According to the psychologist, many of them had debts in the hundreds of thousands when they started therapy.
The affected manager Garzilli also had to learn to live with the constant urge, she reports. She tries to get this under control with meditation and walks, forbids herself to look after the courses by unplugging the screen. But she didn't get away completely. Your money is now in less volatile crypto coins. This is how she plans to save for her retirement.





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Washington Post

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