Therapists who treat gambling addicts report a big rise in crypto traders needing help

Cryptocurrency trading is mostly unregulated in the UK. Credit: ITV

Therapists who treat gambling addicts say they’ve seen a big rise in the number of people who need help after speculating in cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency is a digital form of money that is mostly unregulated in the UK.

The value of cryptocurrencies can rise or fall sharply which means big sums of money can be made - and lost - very quickly. The Financial Conduct Authority considers crypto investments as very high risk.

Popularity in cryptocurrency soared during lockdown and has been promoted as a way of affording a glamorous lifestyle.

One man whose identity we’re protecting told ITV News that crypto trading took over his life.

He says: "As it was going on, it was having more of an effect because I was putting a lot more money into it. I was investing before but then after I was gambling. I was just watching this coin go up and down with any money I'd got. I was doing it as a day trade rather than like leaving it for a year or something.

Therapist Tony Marini says he's seen a sharp rise in the number crypto traders needing help

"So I put money on, take it out - in, out, in, out, trying to make quick money. But I was constantly on my phone, constantly looking at it, just detached from everyday life.”

Tony Marini is a therapist at the Castle Craig rehab centre in Scotland who specialises in helping gambling addicts.

He says he's seen around 200 people with crypto trading addictions since 2016 - most often young men - with a sharp rise in cases in the last couple of years - thought to have been the result of the isolation and increased online activity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Over these six years, I've really done a lot of research and spoken to a lot of people that do it and I find that it takes them to exactly the same places where gambling does.

"The isolation, the fantasies about making money, being able to get the fast cars, the big houses, and then that depression starts to come in. You know, they crossed that line into the addiction and they isolate away from everybody. They start telling lies."

The industry body CryptoUk said it couldn't comment on this story.

Castle Craig rehab centre in Scotland