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Amaya's PokerStars takes big share of New Jersey market after just one month

MONTREAL – Amaya’s PokerStars captured 46 per cent of New Jersey’s online poker revenue in the first full month of operation in April, the online gambling company said Monday as it released first-quarter results.

The Montreal-based company said PokerStars is helping to grow the New Jersey market, which the state Department of Gaming Enforcement estimated increased about 30 per cent over the course of last month.

Amaya (TSX:AYA), which has switched to reporting in U.S. dollars, had US$55.5 million in net earnings from continuing operations in the quarter, up from US$23.3 million a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, adjusted profits surged 26 per cent to almost US$85 million or 43 cents per diluted share. That compared with $67.4 million or 34 cents per share in the first quarter of 2015. Revenues for the three months ended March 31 grew six per cent to US$288.7 million.

Amaya said several potential buyers, including a group headed by former CEO David Baazov, have entered into confidentiality agreements with Amaya and are conducting due diligence.

The results are the first since Baazov took an indefinite paid leave of absence to focus on allegations against him by Quebec’s stock market regulator that he attempted to influence the price of company shares by communicating privileged information.

Baazov was charged along with two other people and three companies following an investigation by the Autorite des marches financiers into alleged insider trading. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The AMF also alleged that 13 people, including Baazov’s brother, used their access to information to reap nearly $1.5 million in profit from stock trades.

Rafi Ashkenaz, who headed Amaya’s operating business that includes the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands, has since taken over as Amaya CEO on an interim basis.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly said PokerStars grew 30 per cent last month