The Bad: Ridiculously expensive shopping options, Oppressive smoky atmosphere, Average dining options
The Basics: Seneca Niagara Casino is yet another Indian casino which mortgages any sense of cultural heritage in order to make a buck. Terribly smoky.
It takes a lot to get me to cheat. Yes, I am a pretty big prude and it takes quite a bit for me to be unfaithful and virtually the moment I do anything even suspect, I pretty much collapse before the one I wronged and confess. I'm a pretty moral person, but every now and then, I have a little lapse. So, for example, while on our recent trip to Niagara Falls, my partner and I did a bit of casino hopping. The thing is, my partner is a few days (weeks, then) shy of being twenty-one and as a result, we had to do out gambling in Canada. There is only one Niagara Falls casino on the United States side (technically, it is Seneca Nation property, so it is not even technically the United States) and that is the Seneca Niagara Casino. Seneca Niagara Casino is a twenty-one and older establishment, a fact we only learned by popping up at it. The thing is, while my partner waited for me to do a quick scouting run inside for the purposes of reviewing, I popped in and did more than just look around.
While my poor partner waited in the smoky lobby, I went onto the casino floor and allowed myself to be seduced by the "Star Wars: Dark Side" video slot machine. And yes, I am so ashamed. In addition to being ashamed of abandoning my partner for almost an hour while I played and got lost - while she suffered in a smoke-filled lobby - I am equally shamed by: 1. withholding the information that I had gambled from my partner for over a month now, 2. I lost, and 3. I did all of the above at such a mediocre casino that is pretty much lacking in charm or anything of genuine interest.
Seneca Niagara Casino: came in with $5.00, left with $0.00 only a few minutes later.
Seneca Niagara Casino is one of the most visible casinos in Niagara Falls, being that is it brightly lit with a multicolor waterfalls design on its exterior. This is a pretty large building - it takes up virtually an entire block right over the Rainbow Bridge on the U.S. side of the Falls. This is a fairly large slot-machine dominated casino located at 310 Fourth Street in Niagara Falls, New York in the United States. This is just south of the Rainbow Bridge and along a strip of tourist traps like wax museums, restaurants and hotels. Mapquest directions were more than adequate for finding the casino. As well, we were able to find Seneca Niagara Casino only using street signs at night and that worked out just fine. Given its size and exterior lighting, it is not difficult at all to locate.
The Seneca Niagara Casino is adjacent has a parking structure and it does not have any grounds. While the parking structure costs money, arriving in the evenings or weekends it is easy to find parking on the street at a nearby government building and the one-block walk is not bad. In fact, it was real nice in the evening when we went as it helped blow off some of the smoke stink from us that we accumulated by simply being in the place for an hour!
Seneca Niagara Casino is a pretty large casino, possessing a single gaming floors with forty-two hundred video slot machines and traditional spinning reel machines, as well as several table games. The entire casino floor has the feel of a hotel lobby - with the gaming floor feeling more light a nightclub with dimmer lights - with bright overhead lights and video slot machines. The main level had virtually everything - games, dining options and shopping options - but there was a second level within the main gaming room that appeared to have one of the bars (I did not explore that as my partner WAS waiting!). As far as layout goes, it was simple, direct and a rather bland casino in that regard; it is a casino that trades simply on being a casino. There is, truly, no gimmick to this one and that is disappointing.
Perhaps the most serious black mark against this casino was the atmosphere. This was one of the most smoke-filled and utterly unpleasant casinos I have ever been in. The high ceilings did absolutely nothing to help dissipate the scent of tobacco from cigarettes, pipes and cigars. I swear, every tenth person was smoking a cigar and the whole of Seneca Niagara Casino smelled rancid, like an old ashtray.
As for the "atmosphere" of the Seneca Niagara Casino, this is a casino trading on the gambling and the servers were adorned quite simply in shirts and slacks. At the player's club and on the floor, the staff wore tuxedo shirts and slacks and seemed dressed more for professionalism than enticement. The casino was remarkably indistinct instead of having any sense of flash.
Gaming Options/Player's Club
I have a very simple gambling philosophy: I sit down at a slot machine with $5.00. I work it up to $10 or down to zero. At Seneca Niagara Casino, I snuck in and while wandering around, I sat down at a single machine (later I found they actually had my favorite two games right next to one another!) and played it down to zero pretty quickly.
As I continue to accumulate gambling experience, I know what I like when it comes to video slot machines: I like the ones that are fun! If I'm winning, I would rather do it on a machine I enjoy and if I lose, I would rather do that on a machine that I am having fun playing regardless. I like machines with interesting graphics and great bonus games. I tend to enjoy the slots that are more girly themed or video game-like, and I was met with real mixed results at the Seneca Niagara Casino. This casino had great variety, but even walking around the place made me queasy whatwith the smoke.
Still, there were a ton of video slot machines and traditional slot machines to have fun on. Seneca Niagara Casino seems to trade a lot on the progressive slot machines and there was a pretty extensive selection with titles like Wheel Of Fortune, several variants of Monopoly, "The Wizard Of Oz," Slingo, John Wayne, Cleopatra, "Deal Or No Deal," The Game Of Life," Hot Shot Progressive, "Top Gun," Gold Fish, and hundreds more. Unlike the Canadian-side casinos, there seemed to be a pretty large selection of penny slot machines. Like the other casinos nearby, though, the gaming floor was ridiculously organized as far as getting around. Slot machines of various denominations were strewn together without any real delineation between the areas. The result was that the casino is difficult to navigate around, forcing players to wander aimlessly to find machines they want to play on.
For those who might be into games of chance and card games instead of the fun and controlled reinforcement of video slot machines, there was a whole area with table games right when one walks into the casino. Rumor is there is a poker room, but all I found were the tables of baccarat, let it ride, roulette, craps and blackjack.
There is a player's club at the Seneca Niagara Casino, which is the Seneca Player's Club (original, huh?). There were no gifts for signing up (not even for newlyweds!). Signing up was as simple as showing a driver's license. Points appear to be accrued based on some mystery formula and after my half hour of play, I had accrued zero from the lone machine I played.
Seneca Niagara Casino is average as far as casinos go. Acts seem like the second string Vegas acts, like the Scintas (who were great when they visited my high school in the mid-90s, but I can't imagine paying for now). They did have pretty decent upcoming acts like Blues Traveler and Bill Engvall, but nothing was there while we were.
Seneca Niagara Casino seems to be catering more to the fine dining crowd than the casual snack and fast food lovers. There is a central bar on the gaming floor - or more accurately, above it - but between the lines and the fact that my partner could not game there (as well as the smoky atmosphere which I loathed) we opted not to try the food. However, it looked like fairly average casino fare and people coming out of the eateries did not seem at all excited about their experiences.
In addition to a buffet and two cafes, there is a pretty traditional fancy steakhouse and an Italian, Pan-Asian and fast food option. The smallest of them is the eat-and-go place, but even there nothing appealed to us.
Seneca Niagara Casino is focused far more on the gambling than the shopping. As a result, there are limited shopping opportunities and the casino has more of a gift shop than a real shopping experience. The hotel shares the shopping experience and virtually everything was overpriced knickknacks at the stores we saw.
Seneca Niagara Casino would be a lot more fun if it had a gimmick or left the players with the ability to breathe afterward. This was one of the more oppressive casino atmospheres I have yet encountered and I can easily say I won't go back (with or without my partner) because of that.
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Isle Of Capri
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© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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