SNL Sports Betting sketch spotlights real Gambling Addiction issues 

Feb 26, 2024

NBC’s popular late-night comedy show “Saturday Night Live” took aim at the sports betting industry this weekend with a satirical sketch that highlighted some of the real issues related to the normalization of sports betting in the United States. Saturday night’s host Shane Gillis and SNL staff talents created a sketch designed to make fun of sportsbook advertisements and increased prevalence of gambling addiction across the country. Here’s a brief summary of the sketch and why it highlights a serious problem sweeping across the nation.

Saturday Night Live’s “Rock Bottom Kings” sketch is all the buzz

It’s no secret that sportsbooks have not been subtle when it comes to advertising. It’s hard to watch a sporting event without countless sportsbook ads pushing their easy-to-use platforms and opportunities to bet on all types of sports these days. The sketch in the latest Saturday Night Live episode featured him and others promoting the fake sportsbook “Rock Bottom Kings.”

The sketch was designed to make fun of how sportsbooks will offer odds on anything - even your friend’s life falling apart from gambling addiction. In the video, Gillis pokes fun at the plethora of bets available at online sportsbooks by saying “Rock Bottom Kings is the only app that lets you take prop bets about how your degenerate gambler friend is finally going to hit rock bottom.”

Some of the (joke) prop bets and parlays you can bet on at Rock Bottom Kings include if your friend gets divorced, marries a rich widow, gets arrested for elder abuse, or fakes his own death but gets immediately caught for placing another bet. This humorously highlights the reality that some sportsbooks seem willing to do anything for the opportunity to get their consumers to bet more. However, Gillis goes on to say, “But again, addiction is a real problem, but we take it very seriously” as he appears to grin. This pointedly spotlights that dynamic in which sportsbooks are likely aware of the gambling addiction from which many of their customers are suffering, but may be more worried about losing their business. 

The sketch ends with Gillis saying, “So however your friend bottoms out, make sure you cash out at Rock Bottom Kings.” Gillis jokes sportsbooks would even exploit your friend’s life falling apart to make some money. The sketch offers a lot of comedy, but it also highlights a serious problem in the U.S. that's only getting worse.

Gambling Addiction rates on the rise in the U.S.

Overruling the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018 was the start of a sports gambling addiction rise in the United States. When the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, it gave states the power to legalize sports gambling. Since then, around three-quarters of the country has legalized sports betting in some fashion. However, that has also led to a spike in people suffering from gambling addiction.

The American Gaming Association announced that the U.S. commercial gaming revenue, which includes sports betting, online gambling, slots, and table games, reached $49.9 billion in the first 10 months of 2022. That was a 14.7% increase compared to 2021 (Money). More Americans are gambling than ever, as it’s become much more easily accessible to the majority of the country.

Online gambling becoming more accessible than ever was a major factor in the National Council on Problem Gaming study that concluded that the risk of a gambling addiction grew 30% in only three years (Money). Keith Whyte, the director of the NCPG, said, “We didn't have a good problem gambling infrastructure in place prior to the expansion of sports betting, and we still don't.” By 2023, the statistics about the sports gambling industry were staggering. Sports betting had grown by over 44% across the United States, and Americans legally wagered $119.84 billion on sports in 2023 (AGA). Sports gambling continued to grow in popularity, but so did the addiction rates. In fact, newly legalized Florida reported that there has been a 138% increase in calls to their help hotline from December of 2023 to January 2024. 

Gambling Addiction gaining major media attention

It took some time, but the gambling addiction crisis is finally getting major media attention. Here are just a few major media outlets reporting on the crisis:

60 Minutes (CBS)

In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, 60 Minutes aired an extended segment about the rise of sports gambling and the addiction it is causing across the country. The episode focused on sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings looking to get new users before the big game, specifically men under 35 years old. Young male adults make up the biggest rise in sports bettors in the last few years, and that demographic also leads the way with the highest addiction rate. 

Outside the Lines (ESPN)

Outside the Lines aired a short series about the history and rise of sports gambling in America. The series documented how the NFL rejected several ideas and advertising campaigns in the early 2000s because they were tied to Las Vegas. The NFL was worried about the connection between the league and Sin City because of the possibility of point-shaving and fixing games, but fast forward to 2024, and the Super Bowl was in Las Vegas.

CBS News Reports

One recent story that CBS aired was about America’s growing sports betting problem. The program stated that 24/7 access to sportsbooks at the tip of people’s fingers was a leading cause of the problem. The majority of the show mentioned the dangers of a gambling addiction and that although it could look different than a drug or alcohol problem, it is still just as dangerous.

Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling

A recent article posted by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling states that the organization has been struggling to provide the help that the people need. The council stated that there has been a 138% increase in calls from December of 2023 to January 2024. Additionally, the council expects to get 14,000 more calls this year than last year. 

Gambling Addiction help and resources

If you, a friend or family member, or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, there is help available. Birches Health offers online care to those in need, and not only is the care 100% confidential, but it’s also with a team of trained specialists who have years of experience. With a 24/7 care team, tailored meetings with each person, and a $0 out-of-pocket cost for many patients, Birches Health is a great resource for anyone who may be struggling with gambling addiction.

If you believe you or someone you know may be struggling with gambling addiction, call (833) 483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com

SOURCES:

Gambling Addiction Is Now at an All-Time High | Money

AGA Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker

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