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PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 26: Fans walk past a Fanduel sports betting location at Footprint Center before Game Five of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs between the Phoenix Suns and the New Orleans Pelicans on April 26, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Add Saturday Night Live to the list of notable mainstream institutions weighing in on the growing sports betting phenomenon.

SNL's recent skit, “Rock Bottom Kings”, is trending because for many, it hits a little too close to home.

The skit, featuring Kenan Thompson, host Shane Gillis, and Marcello Hernandez, opens in stereotypical sportsbook ad fashion. Men in suits talk to the audience about the joy of sports betting, using buzz words and phrases like “thrill,” “exhilaration,” and “cold hard cash.”

The tone of the ad goes from fun and playful to dark and serious and then back to complete satire in a hurry. The announcer mentions the dark side of gambling and the proverbial friend who’s “on the verge of losing everything.

The ad then gets down to the main feature of “Rock Bottom Kings” - placing prop bets on when and how “your degenerate gambler friend is going to hit rock bottom.”

Degenerate is another popular term in the sports betting community, and avid bettors use the term loosely when joking about the number of wagers they place or how often they bet on sports outside of the mainstream. “This degenerate just threw down $20 on Korean baseball,” or “How many other degenerates are up sweating the result of IUPUI vs. Detroit Mercy?”

Social Media and Sports Gambling

The explosion of social media has only heightened the public’s awareness about sports betting.

Dozens of notable analysts in the sports betting space share and discuss their top plays of the day. Some are very analytical in their approach, while others are very light. Some are self-deprecating, and even more are downright sarcastic.

John Hyslop belongs to the latter group, and he consistently shares insights on plays he’s targeting while reasoning that sports bettors should gamble early and often. Unsurprisingly, he commented on the SNL skit.

Sports bettors have access to an immense amount of data at their fingertips, and because of social media, that data now includes real-time analysis and discourse with betting experts. This easy access is a big reason why sports betting is growing so rapidly.

A Growing Market

According to Statista, online sports betting has an annual projected growth rate of 13.03%, with a penetration rate of 15% expected by 2028 in the United States. In Canada, the user penetration rate is projected at a whopping 48.9%.

Worldwide, the sports betting market is expected to push for a $50 billion revenue by 2028, with 181.9 million global users. In the United States, Sports betting is legal in 38 states, and online sports gambling is legal in 30.

The ability to wager on sports is the easiest it has ever been, especially for those who can download a mobile sports betting app such as FanDuel, DraftKings, or the fictitious “Rock Bottom Kings.”

Prop Bets

According to National Football Post, “Prop bets can make up as much as 15-20% of overall NFL handle for online and mobile sportsbooks with a higher hold (profit) than side and total bets.” Prop bets can keep bettors more engaged in a sporting event, they can be easily parlayed, and the results are often available sooner than moneyline, total, or spread bets.

They’re also a lot of fun, and they can be applied to just about any circumstance. Some of the most popular Super Bowl props involve the color of the Gatorade bath, the length of the national anthem, and the coin flip. The “Rock Bottom Kings” ad even mentions a bettor risking his kid’s college tuition on a coin flip

Why it Works

The “Rock Bottom Kings” ad includes these memorable taglines:

  • “Feel like you’re in the game: Your friend vs. horrible demons.”
  • “You’re the house, and your friend is probably going to lose his.”
  • “However your friend bottoms out, make sure you cash out.”

It’s a very tongue-in-cheek message to sports bettors who have taken a popular form of gambling to a completely new level

If you can wager on the color of the Gatorade that gets poured on a winning Super Bowl coach or the number of times Taylor Swift will be shown during a Chiefs game, how long will it be before you can start wagering on your friends’ life choices?

Sportsbooks will never offer “Gets a divorce” or “Marries rich old widow” prop bets, but it’s a slippery enough slope that these don’t seem outrageously unbelievable. After all, there’s a grain of truth in every joke, right?