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Addict Behav. 2019 May;92:136-140. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.01.005. Epub 2019 Jan 8.

Preliminary findings on cryptocurrency trading among regular gamblers: A new risk for problem gambling?

Author information

1
Rutgers University, Center for Gambling Studies, 390 George Street, Room 706, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, United States. Electronic address: Devin.Mills@Rutgers.edu.
2
Rutgers University, Center for Gambling Studies, 390 George Street, Room 706, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, United States. Electronic address: lnower@ssw.Rutgers.edu.

Abstract

Cryptocurrencies are emerging digital currencies that allow anonymity in accessing various risk-taking activities through the Internet (e.g., drugs, gambling). However, given conceptual links to high-risk stocks, the present study sought to assess the association between trading cryptocurrencies and problem gambling. Data was collected through a cross-sectional online survey. Advertisement for the survey was posted on Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Participants were adults who had gambled at least monthly in the past year (N = 876; 58.33% male; M = 33.74 years, SD = 9.73). Participants completed the Problem Gambling Severity Index, Patient Health Questionnaire (2-item version), and Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (2-item version). Trading cryptocurrencies is strongly associated with problem gambling severity (r = 0.53, p < .001). Results from a linear regression with backwards elimination revealed that sports betting, daily fantasy sports, high-risk stock trading, and problem gambling severity contribute to trading cryptocurrencies more frequently in the past year, whereas gambling in on-land casinos contributed to less cryptocurrency trading. Finally, trading cryptocurrencies overlapped strongly with trading high-risk stocks. Moreover, gamblers who engaged in both forms of trading reported greater problem gambling and depression and anxiety symptoms relative to those trading either cryptocurrencies or high-risk stocks, but not both. The present results suggest that trading cryptocurrencies may be appealing to gamblers that are exhibiting greater problem gambling severity. Future research should begin to include cryptocurrency trading in screening, assessment, and treatment protocols, particularly with regular gamblers.

KEYWORDS:

Addiction; Cryptocurrency; Gambling; Mental Health; Stock Market

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