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Picking Winners, March Madness and Gambling

By Dian Vujovich

Picking a winner isn’t exactly easy. Nor does it seem to matter much whether you’re looking for a couple of stocks or mutual funds that will be financially rewarding or betting on the winning basketball team during March Madness season. Heck, even real estate investors who think they’ve got an edge by investing in something with Trump’s name on it can come up short as those who plunked down moola to be a part of the condo-hotel by the name of Trump International Hotel & Tower in Ft. Lauderdale have learned. It’s facing foreclosure.

But because the hope of a reward —any reward—seems to overshadow some of the obvious risks involved we keep going for it. Good for us. Good for the various markets —be they stock, bond, real estate or basketball pools.

Although there’s plenty of data about how investors and their investing behavior—for instance, they tend to sell their winning stocks and hold on to their losing ones– there’s also data about our sports gambling ways.

Here, from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (www.gamblinghelp.org), is some data gleaned from sports’s betters whether they’re betting on the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby or March Madness teams:

-Most (97 percent) are guys.

-54 percent have committed illegal acts (the average is 35 percent) and acts include larceny, fraud, embezzlement, etc.

-49 percent have problems at work due to their gambling.

-35 percent place their bets with bookies; 35 percent wager online.

-They’ve got debt—the average debt reported? $58,450.

-More than 10 percent of Americans participate in March Madness office pools.

If I were in an office, I’d probably be throwing in a few bucks to be a part of the March Madness pool if there was one. For that matter, I throw a buck here and there to the Florida Lottery and Power Ball when their pots get big enough to lure me even though I know from experience that my odds of winning are el-crappo.

So while I’ve heard that I’ve got a better chance of being hit by lightening, dieing from a snakebite, executed or killed by an asteroid than winning a lottery, I still try every now and then.

All of which sort of makes selling your winning stocks and holding on to your losers seem almost sensible.

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