NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
Gene Roach. Mr. Roach here?
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Sidney Meadows.
MR. MEADOWS: Good evening. My name is --
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Good evening.
MR. MEADOWS: My name is Sidney Meadows.
I can remember graduating from high school, seeking full-time employment, not having a trade, not being able to find a full-time job. I left and went into the service.
After having served in the Armed Forces and returning home as a Vietnam vet, still having a hard time finding full-time employment, I took to piece work, odd jobs, working on docks, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, barely making ends meet.
While sitting home one day watching a show called "Vegas," I thought to myself, "Boy, that would really be nice to work in a casino." Then the casinos came to Atlantic City. Lo and behold, the opportunity arose.
I got employed as a pantry person making sandwiches. Then the casino sent me to school to further my education in the culinary field. Then I became a cook, shortly thereafter a relief cook, making money that I didn't imagine I would be making and being able to provide for my family.
Not only did it enable me to provide decent housing and transportation. It also provided medical and dental benefits. For example, I was diagnosed with having congestive heart failure, then having to have surgery on my leg and foot three times, no less. On top of that, I also had to have a bone graft.
Had it not been for the casinos with such great medical benefits, I would not have been able to have had these procedures done. Possibly I would have lost my life having congestive heart failure thinking about how I would pay these expensive bills.
You know, I can remember when I was in the service just before casinos came. Other service members and different people asked me, "Where are you from?" and me saying, "Atlantic City, New Jersey," and them saying to me, "Where is that?" because Atlantic City wasn't well known enough. They didn't have baseball, basketball, football, hockey teams. So I had to say, "I'm right outside Philadelphia or New York City."
In closing, I'd like to -- I'd like to or I remember entering Atlantic City on Route 40. West of Atlantic City there's a sign hanging over the overpass that says, "Welcome to Atlantic City, the World's Playground." That sign was barely hanging. The paint was faded and saying, "Welcome to the World's Playground." I just shook my head and sighed.
But now I get to Atlantic City and I'm so proud to say that I'm from Atlantic City because the lights flourish, adequate signage, beautiful buildings, nice streets, something to do, somewhere to go, and money to be made. Yes, it's a 24 hour city thanks to the gaming.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.