|By Sharon Linstedt, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 17, 2007 - The Seneca Gaming Corp. plans to build a second hotel tower, with additional gambling space, at Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca.
The Seneca's casino company intends to spend $130 million on the project and another $40 million for conversion of the temporary casino building into a state-ofthe- art event center.
"[This] demonstrates the Seneca Nation of Indians' commitment to providing a premier gaming and entertainment experience to our patrons, while continuing our investment in the people and economy of Western New York," Seneca Gaming Chairman Barry E. Snyder Sr. said of the three-year-old facility.
Design work on the hotel tower, which is expected to offer 200 guest rooms, is just getting under way. It will join the 11-story, 212-room hotel that opened in late March as part of the $160 million permanent casino complex.
The second hotel building also will include 30,000 square feet of gaming floor, bringing the total gambling space at Seneca Allegany to just under 100,000 square feet of slot machines and table games.
The new hotel tower and expanded gambling area are slated to open in mid-2009.
"The existing hotel has been a great success, with an occupancy rate that's way over 90 percent. We need more rooms," said Seneca Gaming spokesman Phil Pantano.
The event center project will see the 120,000-square-foot temporary casino building, which opened in 2004, transformed into a venue for concerts and other large-scale gatherings with room for 1,700 attendees.
The Seneca Nation also has announced it has formed a boxing commission and will begin staging tribal-sanctioned boxing events Aug. 31. While the first matches will be held at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, the Allegany center is expected to host boxing events when it opens early next year.
The overhaul of the now-idle temporary casino building also will include creation of administrative support space, as well as extensive exterior upgrades and landscaping.
To date, the Senecas have invested $278 million to develop and outfit the Salamanca casino and resort.
Details of the additional investment in Seneca Allegany were contained in the gaming corporation's financial report for its third fiscal quarter, ended June 30, which was filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission this week. Seneca Gaming reported a revenue gain of $14.9 million, or 11 percent, for the threemonth period.
Revenues in the third quarter of 2007 totaled $149.2 million, compared with $134.3 million in the prior year's quarter.
Seneca Gaming credited opening of its luxury hotel in Salamanca, along with the continued popularity of its hotel/ casino complex in Niagara Falls, with driving revenues upward. Increased slot machine revenues at Seneca Niagara Casino -- $83.2 million, up 11 percent from $75.1 million in the third quarter of 2006 -- were a key factor.
Increased labor and benefits expenses, an increase in New York State's slot machine exclusivity fee, from 18 percent to 22 percent, and costs related to the opening of the temporary Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo, affected the uptick in revenues.
The tribal gaming operation's profits for the quarter totaled $29.3 million, a 4 percent increase compared with $28.3 million in the same period in 2006.
The financial impact of Seneca Buffalo Creek operations won't be known until fourthquarter results are posted in early November. The comparatively small, 5,000-square-foot, slots-only casino opened July 3 and drew 49,000 patrons in its first month.
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