The term “open meeting” means a GA meeting that spouses and friends of GA members are welcome to attend. A “closed meeting” refers to a meeting where only those with a gambling problem are eligible to attend and participate. The thinking behind the open meeting is that the spouses and friends of a problem gambler will have a better chance of understanding the real nature of the problem when they are permitted to attend GA meetings.
Although the work of GA is primarily concerned with the compulsive gamblers themselves, experience has shown that a compulsive gambler’s chances of recovering are enhanced when his or her family has an opportunity to learn all they can about compulsive gambling.
In areas where the meetings are usually open, the spouses and family usually enter wholeheartedly into the various other activities of GA, such as social events and, of course, the Gam-Anon family group. It should be noted that at open meetings, family members are not permitted to speak. They can only listen and observe.
Questions or discussions take place before or after these open meetings. Our experience has been that the presence of the families at GA meetings has never created any great problems that would diminish a compulsive gambler’s chances of recovery (Gamblers Anonymous Group Handbook, page 8).