TRENTON — An Atlantic City casino is free to seek a new buyer even as it remains in litigation with the world's largest poker website, which had wanted to acquire it, a New Jersey appellate court has ruled.

The court sided, in a decision made public Monday, with The Atlantic Club in its battle with PokerStars. The ruling upheld a lower court decision issued last month.

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The Atlantic Club canceled a deal for PokerStars to buy the casino when the online giant couldn't get preliminary ownership approval from New Jersey casino regulators in time.

PokerStars tried to get the appellate court to uphold a restraining order against The Atlantic Club, preventing it from seeking a new buyer, but the appellate court declined to consider it, according to court spokeswoman Winnie Comfort.

The dispute at the heart of the case is still being litigated, Comfort said. An email seeking comment from a PokerStars spokesman was not returned Monday night.

The casino is pleased with the appellate ruling, said Michael Frawley, The Atlantic Club's chief operating officer.

"Our intentions have, and will continue to be focused on the aggressive pursuit of New Jersey's emerging online gaming opportunities," Frawley said.

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