What to expect from your first Gamblers Anonymous meeting

From her book “Gripped by Gambling”, Marilyn Lancelot shares impressions from her first Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meeting. Learn what to expect from a normal GA meeting, including readings from ittle yellow booklets with ‘Gamblers Anonymous’ printed on the cover, answering the 20 GA questions, and sharing out loud.

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Gamblers Anonymous yellow booklets

Pete chaired the meeting and passed around little yellow booklets with ‘Gamblers Anonymous’ printed on the cover (online GA yellow Combo book). Under the name on the booklet, I saw my favorite prayer from AA, the Serenity Prayer. The booklet had only seventeen pages. I wondered if they had a “Big Book” like in AA. The men around the table took turns reading from the book. The recovery steps were the same as AA, except that the members that wrote the GA book, changed the word alcohol to gambling and omitted the word God from several steps.

What is a compulsive gambler?

Don W. read the definition of gambling, “Gambling, for the compulsive gambler is defined as follows: Any betting or wagering, for self or others, whether for money or not, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or “skill” constitutes gambling.”

20 Gamblers Anonymous questions

After the men finished reading, Pete asked me the twenty questions from pages fifteen and sixteen. He said, “These questions are ‘designed to help new members decide whether they are compulsive gamblers’.” The questions didn’t require much thought. Number 3: ‘Did gambling affect your reputation?’ I answered “yes” and thought, I’m probably going to prison, I’ve lost my job, my home, and everything I worked for all my life. Yes, gambling ruined my reputation.

Number 9: ‘Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?’ I answered “no” to that one. I always saved two dollars to tip the valet when we left the casino, I didn’t want Tommie to know I’d lost all my money, so I’d save a couple of twenty dollar bills and wave them in the car on the way home, saying, “I didn’t lose all my money. How about you?” So I convinced myself that I always came home with money.

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Number 14 was an easy “yes.” ‘Did you ever gamble longer than you planned?’ So many weekends I planned a leisurely dinner with Tommie and attend the show in the casino. Maybe even go up to the room early and relax. It never happened.

Number 16: ‘Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?’ I not only considered it. I committed years of forgery, writing checks on the company’s checking account. The only way I escaped the feelings of guilt was to go back to the casino.

And Number 20: ‘Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?’ I thought of the times I drove home alone from Laughlin, broke and full of remorse. That was a definite yes! I considered turning my steering wheel, ever so slightly, into the path of a semi barreling towards me. Who would care? Besides, I was dying by inches every day. Why not hasten the process. My insurance would take care of my bills, my kids would have my property, and maybe the company I worked for wouldn’t find out about the checks I wrote. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have to gamble any more. Yes, I considered suicide. I answered seventeen of the questions with a yes. The last line on the page read, ‘Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.’

About the author
Marilyn Lancelot is a recovering alcoholic and compulsive gambler with twenty years of recovery. She has authored three books, Gripped by Gambling , Detour, and Switching Addictions. She also publishes a newsletter on-line, Women Helping Women for recovery from gambling. This newsletter has been published for more than 10 years and is read by women and men around the world.


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  1. I have been attending meetings for a little over a month now. I’m glad there are meetings for people with gambling problems. I dont believe the world understands how bad it can be for people with gambling problems. It’s no different than drugs or alcohol it can destroy your life. I have lost my job, my self respect, and the trust of my spouse, friends and family. These meetings will help you when you realize your not alone. I know it can be hard making that first step admitting you have a problem. I was nervous but I did it and i havent been the same since that first meeting. Believe me these meetings work.

  2. I have a gambling problem I am about to lose my apartment and my boyfriend has been trying so hard to help me stop he has been sick in the hospital and all my checks and all money I get I gamble. I need help I want to stop it’s hard I have cussed and fought with my boyfriend and he has always opened his arms up to hug me and help me I don’t want to lose him too or my apartment so I need help I want my life back free from this evil.

  3. My spouse is the compulsive gambler and has been for over 34 yrs..july 18,2016 i found $1250.00 in his vehicle and he said he was saving it..and i took his money..well july 20,2016 he freaked out screaming and hollering and verbally threatened to kill me with a knife if his money wasnt back on the table the next day…so i removed myself from my home and stayed with a friend 2 nights cause he works during the day..he has never had a discussion about it after it happened and he continues to say “I took his money”! So last night aug24,2016 he asked me if i want a divorce? I said i want you to get help!! He said cause i cant live like this..i said really!!! Our 35th anniversary is dec 9th and i dont see it happening..he works alot of overtime,we dont put our money together because of the gambling..i pay all the utilities,credit cards and so much more..he complains about he pays tbe mortgage and he should cause he is the one making more money…its gone on way too long..my 2 sons live at home .they are 25,29..they work full time jobs and a part time landscaping.so i worry what will they do and where will they live..i know i should be just worried about ME rgt now but they are my boys…thank you for letting me share if he would only go to a meeting then he could start to repair the damage!!

  4. Well you need to accept that first you are at a meeting for help. And second that there is a program of recovery. And then, follow the steps.

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