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Shares in Toronto and New York-listed gaming operator Amaya soared by more than 17 per cent Thursday after the company received approval from the New Jersey gaming regulator for its PokerStars brand to return to the US market.

The approval by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement will see Amaya’s PokerStars brand re-enter the US market for the first time since April 15th 2011.

Resorts Digital Gaming, the iGaming arm of Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, said it was “thrilled” by PokerStars’ approval, adding that the launch of the brand would boost its online gaming activities, with PokerStars set to become the casino’s exclusive online poker website.

“Our partnership with PokerStars is a testament to our commitment to offering our players the very best gaming and entertainment experience,” said Morris Bailey, owner of Resorts Casino Hotel, a Mohegan Sun property. “We are proud to join forces with PokerStars as they make their entry into the United States online gaming market, and look forward to officially launching after completion of the regulatory test period.”

Partnered with Resorts, PokerStars will become the third brand to launch under the casino’s licence, alongside ResortsCasino.com and MoheganSunCasino.com, which currently feature a wide selection of casino slots and table games, including exclusive titles from NYX Gaming.

Resorts said that while an official launch date had not yet been revealed, the award of PokerStars’ transactional waiver to conduct online gaming in New Jersey was welcome news to those who have been following the brand’s possible re-entry into the US market.

The casino confirmed that PokerStars will be its exclusive online poker website, which Resorts claimed would not only bolster the New Jersey iGaming market, but also “catapult” the Resorts brand to the “forefront” of online gaming.

“We are confident that the partnership with PokerStars will boost our online gaming activities and help us emerge as the leader in New Jersey’s poker market,” said Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel. “With PokerStars approved for licensed online gaming, our players will have the opportunity to experience real-money poker games from the world’s number one poker website.”

Eric Hollreiser, vice president of corporate communications for PokerStars owner Amaya, added: “We are eager to bring our great partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel online and to offer the PokerStars brand to our legion of fans in New Jersey.

“PokerStars’ integrity, business acumen and track record of developing best-practices in the industry make it a highly qualified and valuable partner for Resorts.”

Shares in Amaya Inc (Co. Data) (TSX:AYA – NASDAQ:AYA) soared 17.14 per cent to close at CAD$28.50 per share in Toronto, and 18.19 per cent to US$21.51 per cent in New York following the announcement Thursday.

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