Tuesday October 10, 2017 at 4:46 pm

The state of Pennsylvania, the sixth most populated state in America, missed the deadline to set a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which in turn has created a short-term cash flow fiasco and ugly political feud between the governor and state legislators. Without a budget in place, an integral piece of gaming reform legislation is currently in limbo. The new gaming reform would legalize online casino, online poker, and daily fantasy sports. However, that was on contingent on the budget passing. Will Governor Tom Wolf and opposing state legislators figure out a solution to balance the budget and plug a $2.2 billion gap before Pennsylvania sinks deeper into debt? As of now, the future of online poker in Pennsylvania is a big fat question mark, with more pressing matters garnering the attention of politicos.

Budget Rocky

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in the middle of a three-month nasty political feud among its local state politicians. The budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 has not been passed yet. Legislators from both sides of the political spectrum are in the middle of a political quagmire. The budget deadline came and went, and now the state is forced to borrow money to pay for daily operating costs. Governor Tom Wolf (Democrat) has been at odds with predominately Republican state legislature. Gov. Wolf been trying to figure out ways to plug the massive $2 billion budget gap.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature have been struggling for months to agree on a revenue package to fund the state's $32 billion budget and close the deficit. GOP House members have been the holdouts on several key proposals to balance the budget, while Wolf has banded together with the Republicans who control the Senate."

In the past, governors had borrowed money from the state treasury, but the Republican treasurer would not extend a line of credit because the current budget is not balances. Gov. Wolf wanted to install a tax on natural gas extraction, but state house Republicans failed to get enough support. As a result, Governor Wolf scrambled to find funds and his current plan is to borrow $1 billion via Pennsylvania's liquor revenues.

"Too many Republicans in the legislature are focused on the 2018 elections — they'd rather see me fail than Pennsylvania succeed," said Governor Wolf during a press conference. "I'm not going to play their games anymore."

Meanwhile, the future of online poker is in serious limbo. Without a budget in place, an integral piece of gaming reform legislation is currently in limbo. The new reform would legalize online casino, online poker, and daily fantasy sports. However, the gaming reform was contingent on the budget passing. This new gaming reform included a "kitchen sink expansion" of online gaming that would legalize online poker rooms, online casinos, daily fantasy sports, and online lottery.

With nearly 13 million residents, the state of Pennsylvania is the sixth most populous state in the USA. If/when Pennsylvania legalizes online poker, it will become the largest existing market in America. Legal poker is available in Nevada and New Jersey, but those two states combined make up roughly 12 million residents, so Pennsylvania will have a significant impact as far as becoming the largest legal online poker market in America.

Of course, we're not quite there yet. The last mile is always the longest, especially when it comes to American politics.

Read Gov. Wolf's thoughts on the 2017-18 budget here.

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