Buffalo, NY - First, it was caught up in the courts, then it was stopped in its tracks by the economy leaving a steel shell looming over the site.
After a renewed commitment and a redesign, the temporary casino is gone, and the Buffalo Seneca Creek Casino celebrated its grand opening Tuesday night.
"It's very exciting. It's a perfect setting. It's in downtown on the waterfront, and it's just wonderful," says Joyce Piasecki.
Piasecki likes playing the slots.
"I call it my therapy. I come down here, it's my therapy," she says.
The new $130-million Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in the Cobblestone District has more than eight-hundred slot machines, 18 table games, two restaurants and a sports bar.
It has created around five-hundred jobs.
"If I have a feeling, I think they're going to expand here, too. Eventually," says Piasecki.
Piasecki might be onto something.
While the original plans called for a hotel, the final project does not include one. The recession hit, and the Seneca Nation scaled back the plans.
Still, Seneca leaders are hopeful with all of the development downtown, the casino could grow in the future.
"I think that's part of some of the discussions we're going to be having in the future here. We've talked about the grand hotel that we did back, but the economics, you know, sometimes it's not the right atmosphere, so we pulled back a little bit. But, there's a lot of discussion on different ideas that down here are partnering up, more people in the City of Buffalo different areas here, so I think there's a lot of potential here. And, I think we'd like to take advantage of that, even though it might not be on our territory, we're still a part of downtown Buffalo," says Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder.
It was not easy getting to the grand opening.
Five years ago, work on the casino stopped and Seneca leaders blamed the economy. Before that, groups fighting the casino filed lawsuits. Now, all signs point to the casino being here to stay.
"We had confidence in what we were doing. We knew that WNY, again, is our home. We're not going anywhere," says Snyder.
And, it won't take an expansion to keep Piasecki coming back.
"I used to come down here anyways in the tin can, and I enjoyed it, but I like this much better," she says.
Until now, the temporary Buffalo Creek Casino attracted 800,000 visitors a year. Now, that number is expected to jump to three-million.