The Professional Gambler Behind Hard-Hitting Marine Activists

Sea Shepard is known for not shying away from the hard fight. Featured on shows such as Whale Wars, members of the international non-profit risk their lives to protect whales using “direct-action tactics.” Now they have a new ally in their fight—Stanley Tomchin and the Tomchin Family Foundation. This wealthy Las Vegas resident has pledged to match year-end gifts to Sea Shepard throughout 2014.

Stanley Tomchin self-identifies as “the world’s most successful professional games player.” He was a Chess Master at 13 and previously represented the USA in the Bridge Olympiad (a competition for the card game bridge). Gaining renown as a chess, bridge, and backgammon player, Mr. Tomchin eventually made his fortune in sports betting in Las Vegas. The Tomchin Family Foundation, launched in 2005, now has $6.9 million in assets.

The Tomchin Family Foundation may not be the largest philanthropic institution, but it is doing its best to make a difference in the marine world. The foundation has been giving to Sea Shepard since 2009. This year, the foundation will be matching donations up to $25,000 throughout 2014. Sea Shepard runs a number of campaigns focusing on marine wildlife conservation with a focus on whales, sharks, seals, sea lions, reefs, dolphins, and Bluefin tuna.

Tomchin’s foundation also made donations to Greenpeace this year. One installment of $30,000 went to Greenpeace for their work in blocking illegal shipments of whale meat off of South Africa. Another donation of $75,000 was leveraged by Greenpeace to raise an additional $150,000 for their campaign against unsustainable tuna fishing.

The Tomchin Family Foundation primarily gives to nonprofits in California working on arts, education, human services, and the environment. However, it appears that Tomchin is not afraid to also back what many see as the radical activism of Sea Shepard and Greenpeace. That makes sense. This is a guy who made his fortune by taking big risks, so it's no surprise that he appreciates the Zodiac crowd.