Betting During March Madness May Make the Games Less Fun

Enjoyment gets lost in the wagering, even for those who pick a winner, researcher says

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Watching this year's NCAA March Madness basketball tournament may not be much fun for those who bet on the games, one expert suggests.

Though the current popularity of office pools, online betting sites and spoiler message boards seems to suggest that predicting the outcome of games increases enjoyment, that's not the case, according to Stephen M. Nowlis, a marketing professor at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

A study he co-authored found that people who make predictions about uncertain events, such as sporting events, experience significantly less enjoyment while watching the events than those who don't make predictions. The research was published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2008.

"We thought the opposite would be true," Nowlis said. But "predictions become more aversive when the outcome of the event is highly uncertain. ...We explain our results in terms of anticipated regret."

Interestingly, picking a winner doesn't seem to help.

"One compelling finding from our studies was that, among those who made predictions, participants who were correct enjoyed the event no more than those who were incorrect," Nowlis said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how to know when gambling is a problem.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Washington University in St. Louis, news release, March 9, 2011

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