US Internet Gambling Pioneer Passes Away

Political strategist for the Poker Voters of America (PVA) lobby group, Jim Tabilio recently passed away at the age of 59.

On Wednesday afternoon Tabilio died of a heart attack just after departing from a California Senate Governmental Organization Committee hearing for Senator Rod Wright’s SB 45 bill. He accompanied various tribal leaders to discuss certain issues pertaining to legalised internet poker in California.

Melanie Brenner, PVA president whose Tabilio’s successor said: “Jim Tabilio’s strived to legalise and regulate intrastate internet poker, hopefully his efforts will not have been in vain and it would lead to an opening up of the US market for internet gambling.

“To say the least I won’t be celebrating with him, however I’m grateful for the opportunities he created for so many of us.” For 25 years Tabilio was an independent political consultant before teaming up with Winning Directions on a full-time basis in 2005. In the early 1990s he was also employed as a joke writer for Tonight Show host Jay Leno. He also sold a number of TV and film scripts, such as “Sweet Justice”.

He was also involved with Congressman Lloyd Levine from California on drafting the first intrastate poker bills, which is based on the framework provided by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. Basically it stresses that online intrastate wagers do not comprise “unlawful internet gambling” if specifically allowed by the laws of a state.

The lobby group assisted in drafting the SB 45 bill is presently before the California legislature, as well as the bill which must receive the approval from the Florida legislature in April. Following in the same footsteps as California, New Jersey is on the verge of becoming the first US state to license internet casinos. It’s up to Governor Chris Christie now who has to make a decision before the 24th of February that will enable Atlantic City’s casinos to offer internet versions of their casino games.

Patrick Dorinson, Poker Voters executive director described Tabilio as an “experienced die-hard campaigner” who gave his all in order to get internet poker legalised in the United States”.

“A great send off for Jim Tabilio would be for California, his home state, to legalize and pass this law. This to me would be the most appropriate memorial sen off to someone like Jim. He put everything he had into this, literally. I would encourage all parties involved to double their efforts in light of this tragic event.

“He died whilst he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. It’s up to us now to ensure that Jim’s work reaches a positive conclusion,” he added.

Tabilio was a regular contributor to the private sector lobbyist, advising governments and regulatory agencies on public policy gaming solutions and acting as a conduit between these entities and European internet casinos as well.

With PKR and SportingBet, Tabilio’s Secured American Games Company is one of the three founding members who recently introduced US Online Gaming Association, headed by Brenner.



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