Excessive trading, a gambling disorder in its own right? A case study on a French disordered gamblers cohort


Introduction: Trading and gambling appear to share some similarities. Indeed, traders can get professionally involved in high-risk types of trading as if it were gambling. This research explores whether excessive trading can be conceptualized as a subset of gambling disorders.

Objective: To better acknowledge the existence of an addictive-like trading behavior and to discuss its phenomenological similarities with gambling disorders.

Methods: The data of 8 excessive traders out of a cohort of 221 outpatients seeking treatment in our Problem Gambling unit were analyzed.

Results: Our case series revealed important similarities with gambling disorders in terms of diagnosis, trajectory and comorbidities. Like many disordered gamblers, excessive traders of this study experienced a number of small early wins, chased their losses, and ended up losing control over the money they invested. All of them invested in very risky stocks associated with short-term trading leading to potential large gains, but also with very significant losses. The structure itself of the two activities (gambling and trading) is very close.

Conclusion: Our results tended to support the idea of an addictive-like trading behavior as a subset of gambling disorders. Investing is not a form of gambling, but some people gamble with investments. Several observations and recommendations can be made: (i) conduct researches; (ii) build and validate specific assessment tools; (iii) develop strategies for prevention and treatment; and (iv) conduct more rigorous studies to clarify what we named an addictive-like trading behavior.

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