Saturday Night Live spoofs sports betting and responsible gambling

Getting the Saturday Night Live treatment is generally an indicator that a person, a business or an industry has fully infiltrated the mainstream.

This past weekend, sportsbooks were the target of a spoof commercial on the program. SNL aired a fake commercial for fictitious operator Rock Bottom Kings, a sportsbook that allows you to wager on the problematic behavior of your peers who may be struggling with a gambling problem.

The ad mimics the look and feel of BetMGM’s spots with Jamie Foxx and the vocal delivery and graphics employed by just about every operator.

More than anything though, the skit sends up the company’s approach to problem gambling, oscillating between humor and the idea you can win from gambling to periodic moments of seemingly insincere concern about addiction.

Gaming industry analyst Steve Ruddock was one who thinks the skit is an indication of how the industry’s RG efforts are landing with the average person.

The skit isn’t going to change hearts and minds, but it offers a peek behind the curtain at how people perceive these apps and the companies behind them,” he explained. “It was a joke, and a pretty good one, that demonstrates how the current RG messaging is ringing hollow to the typical person, or in this case the SNL writers’ room. True or false, the gist of the skit was sportsbooks want to keep you in constant action at any cost.”

Locker Room Labs Founder Chris Shreeve also thought it was a condemnation of how the industry has messaged problem gambling so far.

“The SNL skit highlights a general perspective that RG messaging is just companies checking a box to satisfy RG regulations. They aren’t genuinely interested in curbing problem gambling because it doesn’t benefit their bottom line,” he noted.

Shreeve also pointed out that SNL is usually late to hop on pop culture trends, so this could be a sentiment that has been bubbling up for some time.

As Ruddock pointed out, the ad was also clearly developed by a writer’s room with more than a passing familiarity with sports betting.

“There was familiarity with the product, evidenced by the terminology and how the skit perfectly captured the tone shift as it ping-ponged between the excitement of betting and the somber RG messaging, which is why it landed. The difference between good and great satire is its proximity to the truth,” he said.

CTP Senior Director of Partnerships and Growth Adam Rosenberg both works in the industry and bets regularly. He echoed Ruddock that the ad rang true to him and likely resonated with both bettors and the core audience of last week’s guest star, comedian Shane Gillis.

“As a bettor, I thought it was a pretty accurate depiction of what people who don’t bet think about people who do bet. As a marketer, I thought it was fantastic and funny content,” said Rosenberg.

“A lot of people tuned into Shane Gillis on SNL as Shane Gillis fans, and a lot of those people saw what I saw – a very funny satirical sketch about being a degenerate gambler. SNL has always done topical stuff, but this was especially great because you probably had a higher male audience that Venn diagrammed with the core recreational bettor audience and saw this and shared it with all their friends.”

Will this spoof be a transformational moment for the industry and its approach to responsible gambling? Everyone seems to agree that, while funny and memorable, this isn’t going to have a lasting impact. But it is a moment to get a look from outside the industry and take in how messaging is landing. And if Rock Bottom Kings is any indication, operators have a lot of work to do to get to the responsible and problem gambling destination.