This Week’s “SNL” Had a Very Bleak Take on Sports Betting Apps

One sketch took these apps to their logical destination

"SNL" sports betting sketch
The best sketch of an uneven "SNL" episode took on sports betting apps.

This weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live looked like a bad idea from the moment when it was announced. Bringing in Shane Gillis — who was fired from the show a few days after being announced as a new cast member in 2019 — to host suggested an awkward situation for all involved, something Gillis alluded to in his opening monologue.

Several of the sketches featured Gillis playing buffoonish men — one on a game show, one in a church while vacationing and one at an HR meeting. The sketches were fine, if relatively by-the-book. Gillis was best-used in two pre-taped sketches — one of which riffed on Donald Trump’s recent foray into footwear. The other was memorable for having a distinct point of view and executing it mercilessly.

What was that point of view, you may ask? That the ubiquity of sports betting ads might not be the healthiest thing for society.

The sketch — for a fictional service called Rock Bottom Kings — took sports betting apps to their logical conclusion. What if you could also place bets on the horrific lengths gambling addicts go to in order to fuel their addiction? Gillis, Kenan Thompson and Marcello Hernandez play spokespeople for the service, and the look and feel of the ad is spot-on, from the aerial shots of Las Vegas to the neon graphics that pop up throughout.

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“You’re not a loser — your friend is,” Gillis declares at sketch’s end. It’s a remarkably bleak take on the ubiquity of gambling apps, and it plays out like something from a George Saunders short story — barbed, satirical and incisive. And for all of that, funny as well.

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