Three years after a slumping economy helped stall casino expansions in Niagara Falls and Salamanca, Seneca Gaming Corp. is ready to build again.

Seneca leaders on Tuesday announced the start of new construction on the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, which will have nearly double the number of guest rooms when a new $53 million tower is completed.

"This is evidence of the impact and success that our casino properties can produce for Western New York and the important role we can play as a tourism leader," said Seneca Nation of Indians president Robert Odawi Porter. "Each year, millions of people line up at our doors who have traveled from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Michigan and parts of New York."

Those people are now flocking to the Southern Tier casino more than they did in 2008 and 2009, when the slumping economy caused the Seneca Nation to put casino expansion plans on hold there and in Niagara Falls.

The recession resulted in salary reductions and layoffs of 210 employees and, with the court battle over the proposed Seneca Buffalo Creek casino in downtown Buffalo, a rare net loss of $19 million for the 2009 fiscal year. But the future has begun to look brighter, Seneca leaders say.

"Although the economy is far from great, it's at a place where people are willing to make an investment when they see value," said Jim Wise, senior vice president of marketing for Seneca Gaming. "We think . . . people are willing to spend prudent dollars for a gaming trip or a destination trip."

The Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel will have 413 guest rooms when completed in early 2013, Wise said.

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