Turtle, emblem of one of the Seneca Nation's clans
There are 5 Seneca Indian casinos in New York. One is in downtown Buffalo, two are in Salamanca, NY, one is in Niagara Falls, and the last is in Irving, NY, on the shore of Lake Erie. The Seneca are one of the largest Indian tribes of North America and they are spread over West New York State, up across the U.S.-Canadian border into Ontario, and down into Pennsylvania. (There are also many Seneca in Oklahoma. There are some who settled in Ohio after the Revolutionary War, but were displaced and sent south to Oklahoma in 1831 as the first part of the Indian Removal Act.) Seneca are part of the Iroquois League (formed in the year 1570), which also includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Tuscarora tribes.
There are 3 bands of Seneca, each with a separate reservation. Living in this country since prehistoric times, the Seneca have a fascinating history. Some interesting things about the Seneca Indians:
— On the 2 reservations within the United States, every enrolled tribe member receives a few yards of calico or cotton cloth from the federal government once a year, as tribute determined by the Treaty of Canandaigua, a pact made in 1794 under the administration of George Washington. This is sometimes called the Calico Treaty, or Pickering Treaty. Some Indian tribes who signed receive money instead, according to what they chose long ago. Because the treaty did not contain any adjustment for inflation, the amount of cloth received by those tribes who chose it changes and has decreased drastically over time. In 1941, for instance, each Seneca tribal member received only 3 yards of cloth, due to high prices.
— Senecas are matrilineal, and trace their relatives from the maternal line. Therefore, if you’re Seneca, your mother’s brother is your uncle, but your father’s brother is not considered a relative.
The tribe established gambling casinos under pacts with the state of New York. They are permitted to do so because they are a federally-recognized tribe, and have been almost since the beginning of our nation. The casinos the tribe operates are described below.
Seneca Gaming & Entertainment – Irving
Their main website: http://www.senecagames.com The casinos in Irving and Salamanca are Class II gambling establishments, limited to slot-type electronic gambling machines and Bingo. While their website also shows a poker page replete with a photo of poker pro Mike Matuso visiting a Seneca property, this is referring to the Class III casino in Niagara Falls.
The Irving casino is just off the shore of Lake Erie, on Erie Road (which is Route 5). They feature big promotions for their Bingo games, with jackpots of $3,000 up to $15,000 frequently. Regular bingo games can win around $500 and over. There are special prizes too — cars, and bonanza prizes of tens of thousands of dollars. There are regularly 3 bingo sessions every day.
Seneca Irving has over 650 video slots. The video gaming machines accept cash and pay out with a card you take to a cashier, or use in another video slot machine.
Food is served daily — morning, noon and night. Specials of homestyle cooked meals, mostly.
Open 7 days a week, and hours are Sunday-Thursday from 9:30 am to 2 am, and Friday-Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 am.
Seneca Gaming – Salamanca
This is farther south of the rest of Seneca land, closer to the southern NY border. A more modest gaming site, Seneca Casino Salamanca is in a location where there’s no other casinos. It provides entertainment for local New Yorkers or Pennsylvanians, who have almost no gaming in their state. Like its sister property, it offers bingo and electronic gaming — slot machines. It is open from 9:30 am to 1 am Sunday thru Thursday, and until 2 am Saturday and Sunday.
The Seneca Gaming Corporation runs the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino.
Main website: http://senecagamingcorporation.com These properties are Class III gaming operations — which are permitted to offer traditional, casino-style table games such as Blackjack, Craps, and Roulette — in addition to electronic reel and video slots. Seneca Gaming Corporation is owned by the Seneca Nation of Indians, and it operates all the Nation’s Class III gaming in western New York.
Seneca Niagara Casino opened in 2002, and its hotel, a 26-story building, opened December 2005. Entertainment is offered in the Niagara Events Center, where big-ticket acts come.
Their slots, of which their vast floor holds over 2,000 machines, vary from penny spins to $100 a pull. Progressives are widely available, and there is a High-Limit Slot area where the machines are $5 to $25 a spin. 46 different games are listed on their site. Table games are: Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Mini Baccarat, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride, Pai Gow Poker, 3 Card Poker, and Spanish 21.
Also a large poker room on the first floor which spreads games of Texas Hold’em, Omaha and 7-Card Stud. There’s no shortage of restaurants and cocktail lounges. There’s both a VIP lounge and a quiet corner for drinks, and dancing nightly at Club 101. For food? A great steakhouse in The Western Door, Asian cuisine and seafood at Koi, and La Cascata is fine Italian dining. If you want casual dining, you still have four places to choose from, whether it’s burgers, home-cooked chicken and pasta, omelets, noodles or a complete buffet. And still there are quick bites or desserts at 4 other spots.
Turtle Island, the casino at Seneca Niagara, is named for the great turtle of Seneca mythology, on whose back the world lies.
Seneca Niagara is open 24 hours.
Seneca Allegany Casino opened in 2004. Its 212-room hotel opened 3 years later, in 2007. This casino has about as many slots as Seneca Niagara, but some variation in the slot games offered. Table games include Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride, 3-Card Poker, Big 6 Wheel, Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker and Spanish 21.
Six restaurants offer a wide range of food. For the finest dining, it’s either steaks at the Western Door or Italian choices at Patria. In the middle range, Thunder Mountain Buffet is all-you-can-eat for lunch and dinner, or sit down at the Seneca Cafe. A quicker meal is available in soups, sandwiches at the Bear Claw Cafe and the Cafe Express. The cafes also serve breakfast.
The Indian casinos of New York are known to draw some great acts to their entertainment halls, and the Allegany runs true. Country singer Gary Allan, and Bachman & Turner (of Bachman-Turner Overdrive fame) are examples.
And of course, when you’re in western New York you are surrounded by great country landscapes for hiking, biking, and just driving for the view.
Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino was built after the Nation acquired 9 acres of land in downtown Buffalo. In 2007 it opened the casino; in subsequent years it expanded its buildings. In March of 2012, the Corporation began a completely redesigned casino, which is projected to open in summer of 2013.
Right there in downtown Buffalo, the casino is smaller than its brother properties farther out; but the Buffalo Creek Casino is a fun addition to the city. There are 450 slot machines at present, penny slots up to $5 a pull. There aren’t table games offered. The construction that is going on right now and due to finish next fall will allow them to double the number of slots, and bring table games in too.
The casino expansion will cost about $130 million, and bring in 500 new jobs.