NHS exec warns that crypto trading could fuel problem gambling

An increasing number of young adults from the UK are undergoing gambling addiction therapy after becoming hooked on trading crypto, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has warned.

Speaking at the NHS ConfedExpo on Wednesday, NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard stated that opportunities to become addicted to gambling are rising and that the methods used to keep people hooked are becoming “ever-more sophisticated.” 

The National Problem Gambling Clinic told Pritchard that gambling in ‘unregulated cryptocurrency markets’ in the UK is becoming increasingly addictive for young people. Indeed, much of the current memecoin hype in crypto can be compared to gambling, with traders betting that coins will either skyrocket or plummet over the course of a week or in as little as five minutes. 

Pritchard said, “As a society, we need to ask: are we OK to just continue picking up the pieces.”

She added, “The NHS opened the 15th specialist center for gambling addiction, responding to a real and growing social need. Again, the NHS can help — will help. But again, we can’t solve this alone.”

Gambling support increasingly helping crypto addiction

Research from the UK Gambling Commission last year found that 2.5% of the British population may be suffering from ‘problem gambling,’ where gambling becomes “damaging to a person or their family, often disrupting their daily life and career.” The 2.5% figure was eight times higher than previous findings.

The commission also found that problem gamblers are much more likely to own crypto and invest via mobile trading apps, such as eToro and Robinhood, than non-problem gamblers. One UK Gambling support line reported an increase in the number of people seeking help with problems arising from high-risk day trading, including crypto.

Read more: UK shuts down ‘trust me bro’ crypto firm that promoted $1.7B Ponzi

In May 2023, the UK’s Treasury Select Committee published a report claiming crypto should be regulated like gambling. It said unbacked crypto assets have “no intrinsic value and no useful social purpose,” and that regulating crypto as a financial service would “create a ‘halo’ effect, leading consumers to believe this activity is safe and protected when it is not.”

Two months later, the UK government rejected the report’s recommendations and claimed that a system of gambling regulation would not be able to address the risk factors associated with events like the collapse of FTX. 

It added, “The recommendation to rely on gambling regulation would represent a fundamental departure from the Government’s intended approach which reflects recommendations from global standard-setting bodies.”

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