The Seneca Nation operates under a democratic government that pre-dates the United States Constitution. Evidence of Seneca inhabitants in the Great Lakes and Western New York areas has been traced back as far as 2,000 years ago.

In antiquity, the Seneca were regarded as formidable warriors, but were renowned for their keen diplomatic and oratorical skills.


The Seneca Nation formed a modern elected government, the Seneca Nation of Indians, in 1848. The Tonawanda Seneca Nation later split off, choosing to keep a traditional form of tribal government. Both tribes are federally recognized in the United States.

Note on the establishment of the “modern” Seneca Nation and its mission to preserve the history, values, culture and sovereignty long-established by the Seneca people during the expansionist era of a relatively young United States of America.


Native Nations throughout North America begin establishing bingo operations on tribal lands as a means of raising revenue to benefit the health, wellness and education of their people.


Seeking to increase their own revenues, US state governments begin authorizing charitable gaming and state lotteries. Both state and tribal governments see potential for mutual benefit in conducting gaming operations, but questions arise over states’ rights to regulate gaming on sovereign land.


California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians is heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (480 U.S. 202). The Court’s ruling established a broader definition of tribal sovereignty, facilitating a period of rapid growth and expansion in the tribal gaming industry.


With the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the US Congress established a federal jurisdictional framework, creating the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and delegating new powers to the US Department of the Interior. Although often controversial, the law solidifies tribes’ sovereign right to self-determine the sources of, and priorities for, their gaming revenue. 


Downtown Buffalo and Western New York have been suffering from the recession of the early 1990s and lower employment opportunities in the once-thriving manufacturing sector.


The Seneca Nation enters into a gaming compact with the State of New York, clearing the way for a $2 Billion investment in the WNY economy. The compact grants the Seneca Nation the exclusive right to operate gaming operations across 14 counties in Western New York.


Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino opens in Buffalo, New York. The casino begins to attract around 3 million visitors annually and starts to help revive businesses in downtown Buffalo, boosting the overall economy of Western New York.


The 92,000-square-foot Cattaraugus Community Center opens, helping to promote fitness, culture and healthy lifestyles for Seneca members and the greater community at large.


A $53 million hotel tower expansion is completed at Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino, adding 201 rooms and contributing to the employment of nearly 4,000 Western New York locals.


From 2002 to 2016, Seneca paid 25% of its revenue - roughly $100 million a year - to New York State. In March of 2017, the nation made its final revenue payment of $30 million from the original gaming compact.

Present Day

Today, the Seneca Nation is one of Western New York’s largest employers, responsible for more than 5,000 direct jobs, over $300 million in wages and almost $600 million in annual spending with vendors and suppliers for a total economic impact of more than $1.1 billion.

With the gaming compact set to expire at the end of 2023, Seneca Nation and New York State continue to negotiate.