FanDuel acknowledges missteps, extends humble gesture to California tribes for sports betting collaboration

Christian Genetski, President of FanDuel, attended this week a meeting with influential tribal leaders at the Western Indian Gaming Conference, held at the Pechanga Casino Resort in suburban Los Angeles. The engagement involved Genetski addressing past tensions and expressing a commitment to working collaboratively with tribes.

“I’ll address the elephant in the room, the gentlemen next to me,” California Nations Indian Gaming Association chair James Siva said as he nodded at Genetski, as per media reports. “As soon as it was announced, there were a lot of questions. As much as I hammered them during the initiative fights, the way we left it was always that we do have to find a path.”

The mentioned introduction occurred slightly more than a year after tribal groups collaborated to defeat a commercial online sports betting initiative in California. FanDuel was among the seven national operators supporting the plan, which faced a resounding loss at the 2022 ballot box.

If I reflect on 2022, it was a well-intentioned but uninformed and misguided attempt. It was definitely a spectacular failure on our part. It wasn’t the right plan or the right time,” Genetski was quoted as saying.

The president revealed a shift in strategy, indicating that for sports betting to be legalized in California, tribal leadership should take the forefront. The company has been in contact with several Indian nations to discuss the matter, Genetski revealed.

“We [came back and] started by saying, ‘That was a mistake; when you are ready to talk, we will show up.’ We’ve had a number of conversations, and there are six or seven members of my team here today, each of whom is ready to travel at the first invitation. It takes a long time to build trust. There are lots of words from me today, but actions matter,” he said.

While Genetski did not explicitly state a commitment to management services partnerships over branded platforms, he affirmed the company’s intention to respect tribal sovereignty and actively engage with Indian Country.

The aim is to establish a collaborative pathway into the state, Genetski noted. Notably, FanDuel’s president of strategic partnerships, Rikki Tanenbaum, a former CEO for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, was present, highlighting the company’s effort to incorporate tribal voices.

The timeline for future initiatives in California remains uncertain, with Genetski and Siva leaving open the possibility of a ballot appearance beyond 2026. Genetski maintained a focus on sports betting and refrained from commenting directly on the future of online casinos in the state.