Spread betting is fundamentally different from every other form of gambling in that you often have no idea what your possible losses might be. Fundamentally, it is more risky. It also requires more commitment from the outset. It is not for the casual or one-off gambler. It is difficult to set up an account compared with walking into a bookmakers and it takes the understanding of how the markets work. It employs the whole psychology and mechanics of the stock market.
The nature of spread betting also gives one of gambling’s biggest thrills: the hope of that big win, but with the risk on the other side. Disturbingly GamCare, the counselling service for problem gamblers, sees more spread clients looking for help than in any other area of betting. Some of their stories are terrifying— people losing houses, businesses and families because of their losses. None more so than the man who lost more than £100,000 after buying series runs in a recent England versus West Indies Test series only to see the first match make-up at zero when it was washed out by a freak rainstorm.
As a beat reporter I remember covering county court proceedings and seeing the cases of Sporting Index or City Index against some hapless client who had lost heavily on a sporting or financial bet and was being sued. Now the good news. Do not panic; such horror stories are very much the exception. The vast number of spread bettors lose, but lose survivable amounts. One of the reasons may be that they are all too aware of the possible horror result.