Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you expect the gaming industry to grow as the global economy eventually recovers and to generate income in the interim as desperate people take desperate chances, the Market Vectors Gaming ETF
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins do. The gaming ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is a not-astronomic 0.65%. That's higher than many ETFs, but it's considerably lower than most stock mutual funds.
This ETF has performed well, but it's also very young, with just a few years on the books. Over the past three years it has outperformed the S&P 500 and international MSCI EAFE index handily. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.
With a low turnover rate of 11%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings, as many funds do.
What's in it?
Several of this ETF's components made strong contributions to its performance over the past year. Melco Crown Entertainment
Las Vegas Sands is on an upswing recently, though, as it makes investors smile by redeeming some of its preferred stock, thereby deleveraging the company. High debt loads plague many in the industry and can boost volatility. Strong results from Macau are also lifting it and its peers.
Other companies didn't add as much to the ETF's returns last year but could have an effect in the years to come. International Game Technology
The big picture
Demand for gambling venues isn't going to disappear anytime soon. A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.