San Diego
of GA



Welcome to Gamblers Anonymous. This section addresses some general questions which may not have been answered in other posted ISO-published literature. The program is open to some individual interpretation and members are encouraged to find what works best for them. The answers in this section represents an effort by local members to specific concerns in our area, or otherwise comes directly out of the GA literature.

If you don't see a question listed here, it may already have been answered. Please check out the Literature page. If you have any suggestions for this section, please submit them to your Intergroup representative for discussion at the next Intergroup meeting.

About Meetings

Are there special meetings for Newcomers?

Two Newcomer Meetings “90-Day Room” (Su6) and Monday Newcomer Meeting (M3) meet at Vista the La Mesa Christian Church, 4210 Massachusetts Ave, La Mesa, CA 91941. The goals of these meetings are to 1) provide help and hope for new members, 2) explain how to use GA tools, and 3) improve membership retention. This works if members with recovery attend and encourage new members, stress the importance of meetings, share how GA has helped in their recovery, and promote discussion during break or after the meetings. Featured Speakers or Topics of Discussion may include Pressure Relief, Meeting and Telephone List, Page 17 of the Combo Book, Unity Steps, Recovery Steps, Sponsorship, GAMANON, GA Literature, GA Organization (ISO and Intergroup), Trustees, and Personal testimony.

Are there any daytime meetings?

Yes. Specifically in San Diego county and surrounding areas (Area 3A), on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Why are many meetings held in churches?

Gamblers Anonymous is a self-supporting fellowship. We do not have dues or fees, but we do rent space where ever available. Churches are usually willing to rent us this space a few hours every week, which the attending members help support through their own contributions at a minimal cost to its members. GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS IS A SPIRITUAL PROGRAM, NOT A RELIGIOUS PROGRAM... "Gamblers Anonymous is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution..."

Can I bring my children?

If absolutely necessary, Yes. However considering the seriousness of the problem of compulsive gambling, the discussion and emotions shared in the room may not be appropriate for children. Any "Open" meeting allows guests, but we ask that you use good judgment and consideration not to disturb the group. Also, each group/meeting is self-governing and may rule otherwise.

I went to Gamblers Anonymous a long time ago. Can I come back?

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. Many members have had setbacks, as well. Shame, remorse, and despair often keeps us from returning, but members soon find the same welcoming and understanding when they return.

How long do the meetings last?

Unless otherwise specified, meetings in the San Diego areas generally last about 1˝ - 2 hours, depending on the size of the group, affording everyone the opportunity to share. Although attending FULL meetings is strongly suggested, members may come and go at the times they feel necessary.

What is a "Milestone Meeting?"

The Monthly combined Milestone meetings in Poway, Temecula and Santee are a celebration of members from all over the county, celebrating any milestone (be it 30, 60, or 90 days, 6 or 9 months, or any Anniversary of abstinence) during that month or since the previous meeting. This is separate of any celebration that same member may have had at their regular meetings, and is intended to enhance the Unity of our members. All members are encouraged to attend, if just to support those that are celebrating. Guests are welcome and allowed to share.

What is a "Speaker's Meeting?"

The speakers meeting is a one-hour non-comment open meeting held every other Monday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Temecula. After the readings, the scheduled speaker gets 20 to 30 minutes to share their gambling story. Afterwards and with time permitting, members are given time to share.

What is a "Bonfire" meeting?

The monthly Bonfire meeting is preceded by a barbecue with pot-luck at the beach, at Crown Point Shores in Mission Bay, and meets on the last Friday of the warmer months of the year. This meeting is somewhat different, in that it is also something of a social event, and at the same time, provides a great atmosphere of serenity for a meeting. Guests are welcome and allowed to share.

The night I want to go, the meeting is across town. Why don't you have anything closer?

The success of the fellowship is dependant on its members. As the fellowship grows, perhaps one day there will be more meetings to choose from. We are fortunate to have as many meetings as we do. In some areas, members even travel hundreds of miles to get to a meeting.

What should I wear to a meeting?

There is not a "dress-code" in Gamblers Anonymous, but some consideration is prudent. Some members may find casino logos or certain sayings, for example, offensive or in bad taste.

Are the meetings "all men?"

As many women as we have in the fellowship, it would be highly unlikely to find yourself in a meeting with just men. This disease is non-discriminating, and affects people of all gender, race, age, or social standing.

What is a "Women's Meeting?"

A Women's meeting is a meeting where women are preferred. Since the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling, it cannot discriminate against other members who need a meeting to attend, although most men in the fellowship will respect this preference.

"Open Meeting" "Closed Meeting" "Combined Meeting" "Modified Closed Meeting" -- What does all of this mean?

An Open meeting generally implies that anyone may attend the meeting. However, even so, each meeting may put certain restrictions upon this. For example, the Wednesday night Rancho Bernardo Meeting is an open meeting. However, guests (non-gamblers) are only allowed to share at birthday meetings. The Monday night Step-Study meeting is also "Open". Many professional counselors in training tend to attend that meeting. Therefore, the meeting established that only 3 students may attend at any given meeting. In any case, it is suggested that you check-in with the Chairperson or Secretary upon your arrival if you are a non-gambler.

Closed meetings, as opposed to Open meetings, do not welcome guests. In other words, you could not bring your spouse or friend, if they themselves are not admitted, or considering the possibility of being a compulsive gambler. This is usually to provide a more comfortable atmosphere for some members to talk about things they may not want to otherwise.

Modified Closed meetings are the same as a "Closed Meeting" but the members vote to include certain groups such as health professionals, guests attending with first time members, and persons with other addictions in need of a meeting.

Combined meetings are Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon groups that meet together in the same meeting. The Milestone meeting is an example of this type of meeting.

At EVERY GA meeting, we ask that professional mental health workers, Officers of the Court, and news-people report upon their arrival. The Secretary will ask the group if permission is granted for someone with this occupation to attend. In most cases, the answer will be "yes". However, many meetings will state that if any particular member wishes the guest to step outside while that member shares (speaks), that the guest be willing to do so. In some meetings, even one objecting member will deny these guests permission to attend. In ALL cases, neither recording devices nor notes are permitted.

About Gam-Anon

What is Gam-Anon?

The self-help organization of Gam-Anon is a life saving instrument for the spouse, family or close friends of compulsive gamblers. We come into the group feeling alone, frightened, helpless, desperate and ashamed. We hesitated to share problems and failures, fearing none could understand. The Gam-Anon group is warmly accepting and it offers the new member identification. The message we receive is: "Come join with us, we too were alone, afraid and unable to cope with the problem; we will share with you a new and fulfilling way of life". Gam-Anon's purposes are three-fold: To learn acceptance and understanding of the gambling illness; to use the program and its problem solving suggestions as aids in rebuilding our lives and, upon our own recovery, to give assistance to those who suffer.

For more information, visit their website.

About GA (other)

What does Anonymity mean?

Defined as 'lacking individuality, distinction, or recognizability' in the dictionary, GA practices anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and television, to preserve the Unity and Principles of the Program. Such practices include, not using last names in meetings, or exposing someone else's membership to the fellowship in public.

I haven't lost everything. Do I still belong?

With reference to GA, we feel gambling is an emotional problem; a thinking and living problem. Therefore, money problems seem only to be a symptom of the problem itself. See also "Isn't compulsive gambling basically a financial problem?" in the Combo Book.

I belong to "another" 12-Step program. Can't I just use that program to help my gambling problem?

Perhaps. However, many cross-addicted members in the fellowship feel that their other 12-Step groups do not provide the understanding found in GA for their gambling problem. Many have found that only GA can help them with their gambling problem.

What is Pressure Relief?

A Pressure Relief Group meeting is a tool provided to members facing legal, employment, marital, or personal problems. A major focus is financial in nature, although members need not have financial issues to benefit from a Pressure Relief Group. The group meeting usually consists of the requesting member and a few other members experienced in Pressure Relief, and remains CONFIDENTIAL in every detail amongst those attending members.

To get one started, download this pamphlet with forms, follow the directions, and contact your group representative or the Pressure Relief Group chairperson to set up a group meeting.

What if I see someone I know at a meeting?

Anonymity is the basis for the Gamblers Anonymous program. Therefore, unless agreed mutually, members should not discuss outside involvement within a meeting, or vice versa.

What is "Intergroup?"

Intergroup is a monthly "business" meeting, where member-elected representatives and officers discuss items that affect its serving members. It is also where announcements and literature are disseminated to individual meetings via its representatives. Any member may attend, although only officers and one(1) representative per meeting may vote. No individual may carry more than 1 vote.

What does "ISO" mean?

ISO stands for International Service Office and is the central office for Gamblers Anonymous. It handles items such as official literature, and new group meeting starter kits, as well as any issues involving Gamblers Anonymous as a whole. In other countries, an RSO (Regional Service Office) may handle such issues.

How many "classes" do I have to attend?

GA believes that "Compulsive gambling is an illness, progressive in its nature, which can never be cured, but can be arrested." Therefore, most members feel that recovery is dependant on a program that includes the attendance of meetings. Some members will suggest "attending as many meetings as possible" for at least 90 days. After such time, a member can make a better decision on whether the program is right for them.