The day online sports betting became legal in Michigan, Matthew Kowalis had a vision for building an online community with Detroit Sports Bettors.
Partnering with former 97.1 The Ticket personalities Mike Sullivan and Kyle Bogenschutz, the trio has definitely accomplished that.
Over the past year, Detroit Sports Bettors has been a landing spot for Michigan sports bettors to come together in a positive way and talk about everything in the industry.
How Detroit Sports Bettors got started
While still working together at Detroit’s top sports station, Sullivan and Bogenschutz came together to form Metro Detroit Golfers. The golf community encompasses the entire state and also sparked other communities that could thrive.
After their runs ended with the station, the pair also formed Brand25 Media in 2019 to help local businesses with their digital marketing efforts.
Kowalis came into the picture through his Serenity Medical CBD company. Kowalis’ company was growing in popularity with the golf community, which connected him with the two.
Kowalis said he started Serenity Medical CBD through years of daily fantasy sports success. Already into the types of research required, Kowalis was ready to jump into the online sports betting world once Michigan legalized it.
That day came on Jan. 22, 2021. By Jan. 24, Detroit Sports Bettors created its presence on Facebook.
“The morning sports betting became legal, I told Mike that we needed to make a Facebook page right away,” Kowalis said. “I told them that all they had to do was push the people. They had the following from their days with 97.1 The Ticket, so when they were able to push the people toward the page, that’s when things really started to take off.”
Now up and running for just over a year, DSB has built a community of just under 7,000 members on its Facebook page.
What does Detroit Sports Bettors offer?
In the last year, DSB has worked to expand its brand through social media.
Kowalis has been largely responsible for the content DSB produces. He provides free daily insight for NBA, NFL and UFC primarily (his specialties). He also began producing a weekly audio podcast and creating weekly YouTube shows during the NFL season.
The 31-year-old Livonia native said he commits 15-25 hours per week to researching his recommendations.
“You need to pay attention to the games. I tell people I can’t hang out Saturday and I can’t hang out Sunday. I need to watch the games and need to see what’s going on,” Kowalis said. “You need to get a feel for what’s occurring and what’s going on. You need to see how players and teams respond after a turnover.”
The growing presence and community for DSB has allowed the group have to ticket giveaways and random drawings for their members.
“It just shows how much people in the Detroit community loves sports and want to talk about sports,” Kowalis said. “It’s a very cool space and a very safe space. We want everyone to have a positive experience and to feel like it’s a place where they can connect with other people over a common interest.”
Personal tragedy now pushing Kowalis in pursuits
There’s no doubt that Kowalis is driven to take DSB as far as it can go.
Motivated by the death of his mother due to leukemia when he was 20, Kowalis has been inspired to work hard, make a difference and build a community as a way of paying tribute to her.
“She really inspired me to work hard, but to also try and help people,” Kowalis said of his mom. “I’ve always wanted to find ways to provide services that others could benefit from and that really stems from her.”
What’s ahead for Detroit Sports Bettors
Along with the continued expansion of Detroit Sports Bettors, the trio of co-founders has recently expanded their brand into the world of non-fungible tokens. Global Goats NFT is underway providing sports-based NFT and sports-betting-based NFT options to a global community.
When it comes to DSB, the group is moving to a Troy office in March. Included in the move will be a new podcast studio and recording space for expanded video production.
Inspired by the efforts of those involved with developing the Barstool Sports brand, Kowalis is hoping to do something similar for a Detroit-based company.
“During COVID, and seeing what (Barstool founder Dave) Portnoy did for helping businesses in Michigan, I wondered, why can’t we do that? Why can’t we protect our city, our state? We have 5 or 6 brands, we just need to get an office and start building this,” Kowalis said. “I’m fortunate to work with great guys that know how passionate I am. I will do whatever is needed to do to grow the brand.”
Already DSB has been able to connect with professional athletes from around the country as they look to expand into more than just a state-based brand. The group has formed an Ohio Sports Bettors page on Facebook as well.
Kowalis is hopeful that DSB can continue to grow and put more of a spotlight on Detroit.
“We need things that get people excited about Detroit. People know brands and we want to build something where we can be a focal point and give Detroit more of an identity,” Kowalis said. “We want people to recognize our name and know we come from Detroit and we do good things. It would be great to highlight the city. Detroit is a forgotten about spot. A lot of people outside this state still don’t know how much this place has grown to this day. It would be nice to add to the profile of Detroit and all the positive things it has.”