Publisher:  Marilyn Lancelot   

Vol. X  Issue No. 11   November 2008        


Spiritual connections go beyond the understanding of the mind.

   I forgot to put coins into the machine
    I am a wife, mother, sister, and friend.
    I have a disease that is unlike any other.
                                   My life is not unique nor is it normal.

I am a very sick compulsive gambler and without my higher power and the grace of God I wouldn't be here today to share my experiences. I also believe things do not happen by mistake and people come and go into your life for a reason. I have accepted people, places and things. I know I can not change anyone! I alone am responsible for my actions, my words, my thoughts and my prayers. I am not perfect and I never want to be. I just want to have serenity and coping skills to lead a better way of life.

I began gambling at the age of 18 during a family trip with my sister and her husband to Las Vegas. I remember walking into the Riviera Hotel and thinking WOW!!!! this looks so exciting and gee what can I do first. It reminded me of an ice cream parlor and I couldn't decide what flavor to have. I recall that evening so vividly because it was like losing my virginity. My brother in law handed me $50 and said go have fun. I wasn't of legal age to gamble and I had no idea what the heck I was doing. All I knew was that he wanted me to leave him alone at the black jack table. According to him and I quote, "go away and let me play in peace!” Well those exact words would follow me forever.

I walked around the casino like an idiot wondering what to play. Can you imagine someone gives you money and you can't figure out where to begin? It certainly wouldn't sound ridiculous today. I was a very naive young lady. I searched for a machine as if I were an animal looking for food. I found a machine with all sevens and bars. I pulled the lever and nothing happened. I felt dumbfounded and said to myself, “why isn't this machine doing anything?” I didn't realize that I forgot to put coins into the machine. I needed to cash the $50 into coins. I know! how stupid!!!! I began to experience happiness as the machine kept spitting out money. Before I knew it I had about $500 in coins. My biggest problem was how on earth am I going to cash them in? I had to confess my winnings to my brother in law. I thought, okay he will be happy that I won and say, “Here keep some.” NO WAY! He took everything I had won. I stood there in tears and thought, what an SOB. Why didn't he just give me something to reward me for my winnings? This was the kiss of death and I would soon end up in a place where I never, in my wildest dreams, dared to go.

I never touched another slot machine until the year1992, when my life took a terrible turn. My husband lost his job and we moved into his parents two bedroom apartment. My husband and I shared a bedroom with our two-year old and three-month old daughters. Life was difficult and stressful. One night my mother in law asked me to accompany her to The Seminole Indian Casino. I said, “Mom are you nuts? I am busted out broke and I have no desire to gamble and place my family in debt.” She insisted that I only take $100. I asked my husband and he said okay, why not? So off we went. Well not only was it a disgusting smelly place, it was filled with a bunch of degenerate gamblers.

I walked up to a machine and had no clue what I was doing. Sure enough I hit a small $500 jackpot. In that instance I said to my mother in law, “Lets get out of here.” We went home but returned a week later and I said to my mother in law, “Listen, we are only staying for an hour and then we are out of here.” Well that hour turned into three hours. Again I played a lotto machine and the bells went off and I was looking around to see who won and sure enough it was my machine. I was in total shock and covered the machine so my mother in law wouldn't see what I had won. It was $9500. She came over to me and said what happened? I had to confess and I felt so guilty that I had thrown her a bone. That bone cost me $100.
We went home and I decided that I was finished. Two years went by and we finally moved into our own home and started to live what I thought was a normal life. Then one day I asked my husband if I could go to the casino and play lightning bingo. I only asked for a few hundred and explained to him that I needed some time at night away from the kids. They were very young and I needed something to take my mind off of them. My husband agreed and said, “Go have fun.” The fun turned into a weekly adventure and then a daily adventure. I soon became bored with the lightning bingo and decided to try my luck on the lotto machines. That too became an everyday habit. I soon began dropping my kids at school and going directly to the casino with limited funds.

Then limited became astronomical. So much so, that I began to rape my mortgage account, my stocks, and then my daughters savings. This went on for approximately eight years. I stared to lie, cheat, steal and my gambling took over everything. I became a monster!! I was so obsessed that nothing could stop me. I planned every day how I would attain more money to fuel my addiction. I would argue on purpose with my husband so I could go and gamble. I started to win and that fueled me more. As the years passed I began to ignore my family completely and virtually destroy anything in my path. Every time I would get caught I would insist that I would stop the madness. But that didn't work. I couldn't stop!! I felt like I was going insane and that something was driving me to the casino. I began to utilize all of my credit cards and write checks. I didn't care about the consequences or the fact that my husband might kill me. At this time I never thought it was a disease. I thought it was all about the money and how could I win it back. I wanted to cover my losses. And yes, I did win some large jackpots but never used the money for nice things. I deposited money in the bank but only to take it out again. I have to say that all the bills were paid and I never neglected normal expenditures. But then --------------

Randi, Florida   (This is the first part of a two-part article, the second half will be in the December issue. Be sure to read the second part and find out what happens to Randi.)



By Bobbe McGinley, Clinical Director/CEO of ACT – Counseling & Education

Internal triggers can be anything, like a thought or feeling, that resides primarily inside, that is associated with addictive behaviors. Here is an example, let’s say you are feeling a bit depressed today. It may be an association that when you feel depressed, you drive over to the casino to gamble, thinking this will lift your mood. Anything inside, a feeling or memory of a time and a place that was once solved through addictive behavior can surface as a trigger and a thought usually occurs that sounds something like this, “When I feel this, I do this; and it makes it feel better.”

Someone addicted to alcohol cannot have one drink, one hit is not an option for someone suffering from substance abuse and just one toss of the dice is not an option for the compulsive gambler.

We are bombarded with triggers every day, from billboard signs and magazine ads to television commercials, movies and certain social events. We’ve seen and heard the sales pitches that range from “WIN BIG WITH ONE PULL” at the casino, or try the latest “Hip” drink at the trendiest new bar in town.

Becoming Mindful and Aware

Have a plan in place in case unexpected old emotions and feelings surface and trigger addictive behaviors. It usually happens when we least expect them. It is important to be able to recognize the warning signs and this is especially true for someone struggling or new in their recovery.

We need to be mindful that internal and external triggers will present themselves from time to time. Our job is to become responsible for how we react to them and it is not always such an easy task.

Some relapses among addicts occur when they are in a negative state of mind and some happen when one is experiencing an emotional high or life is good. Just as people with chronic diseases must adjust their lifestyles and assume responsibility for managing their own care, so do those with addictions.

►Have a general plan, get phone numbers of recovering friends on speed dial, get to a meeting, call your sponsor, therapist, counselor or a hotline number.

►List places, people and things associated with your addictive behavior.

►Make a list of the internal feelings associated with using—depression, euphoria, anger, stress, loneliness, success, and so on.

►Identify which of these factors are present at the moment and note them as warning signs.

►List the specific warning signs, which you have identified and prioritize them.

►Work out a series of alternative ways (not just one) which you can use to deal with each warning sign, e.g., going to a movie, instead of a bar (or casino), exercising away anger, crying instead of suppressing sadness. Experiment to see what works best.

►Realize everything passes and this feeling, mood or compulsion will disappear. Tell yourself you do not have to act upon it, you have choices. You will be stronger as a result. Pray or meditate for a few minutes; find something that works for you.

►Don’t just think; talk or write the plan, put it into action!

►Find alternatives which are pleasurable and rewarding in some way. If you are having problems with your plan, it could mean your plan is too ambitious, difficult or inadequate. Analyze what the barriers are and discuss it with someone you trust.

►If you are in an uncomfortable situation, give yourself permission to leave.

►With a little bit of work and a lot of support you will be able to move forward in life knowing you have taken the steps to become aware, and never be afraid to ask someone for help.

Bobby McGinley has worked with Problem and Compulsive gamblers since being Certified by the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc. She is Clinical Director, Counselor and Consultant at ACT Counseling & Education.

    Gripped by Gambling  
Thank you so, so much for writing this book. I know I am male and live on the other side of the world but I really identified with your story, right from your childhood, your gambling, through your prison term and then your recovery. Also I notice your passion for our GA programme came across very strongly and your desire to pass it on to others. 

I now know you Marilyn and where you came from. There must be some unknown power, that when we cross that invisible line, that power puts a chip in our brains. We all thought alike when we were gambling, told the same lies and looked for magic signs any where we could find them and if there were none we would create them. Your story about the six sevens proves this. 

Male or female, it doesn’t matter. I will recommend your book to all because it is a heart warming story of a Compulsive Gambler who went through Hell and came out the other side.
Tommy, Scotland
If you have not read or seen my book, you may click on: and take a peek at the information inside the cover.  The web-site contains a list of events I've experienced which qualify me to write such a book, an autobiography with some photos of special times in my life, and several reviews sent to me by readers. The book may be ordered from by the title, author or Isbn # 978-1-58736-770-0. 
Marilyn Lancelot , AZ  

Albert Einstein describes insanity as

Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result.”


                   “JUST STOP!”

Men and women are different and gamble for different reasons. Women want to be liked, accepted, wanted, loved and protected; whereas men want to fight, to conquer and to overcome and the treatment for their addictions is different.  There’s a word used in 12-step programs, “Oh, she’s in denial.” I personally don’t agree with that statement. I believe that until the addicted person understands the problem, it’s our minds’ way of protecting us from the pain. Addictions are very powerful and when we do stop, we may go through periods of painful and uncomfortable withdrawals.

The word addiction appeared as far back as 1599 when Shakespeare used it in the first scene of Henry V. One hundred eighty years later, in 1779, it was used to refer to tobacco. The word began to be used regularly in 1906 when it was used in reference to opium. Today it’s connected to anything that tastes good, feels good or looks good.

Addiction is an obsession or compulsion which is accompanied by physical or psychological dependence which is extremely progressive and sometimes fatal. It’s a state where the body relies on a substance or action for the person to function normally. The problem causes guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, failure, etc. and the frequency and amounts will increase because our minds and bodies constantly need more to give us the pleasurable feelings. Addictions work well for some people for a short time but only for a short time.  The addiction has no conscience or common sense. For a person to seek help from his or her problem, they must have a desire to stop but there are addicts that never have a desire to stop and continue until they reach prison, insanity, or death, some who want to stop but not change any character defects in their lives, and some who desperately want to change. There are several avenues where the addict may find help: 12-step programs, certified counselors, medication, clergy assistance, intervention, and banning oneself from entering a casino.

When we gamble we produce our own drug. We have adrenalin pumping and endorphins flooding our brain. We get hooked on the feeling and it’s never enough. We want more. We need help to stop these addictions. For someone to say, “JUST STOP!” that doesn’t work.

Clever marketing has allowed the gambling industry to target a previously untapped consumer base, women over the age of 50. Seniors are especially susceptible to gambling problems and the chances of recouping their losses are next to impossible. The atmosphere in the casinos makes the gambler feel valued, the staff all know your name and you’re made to feel special. Even if the person can afford to lose large amounts of money, the harm we do to ourselves emotionally and physically, can be devastating.

In 1997, twenty-one years ago, the Harvard Medical School Division of Addiction, estimated there were 15.4 million adult and adolescent problem gamblers in America. In 1999, two years later, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission estimated there were 20.5 million problem gamblers. In 1997, the National Opinion Research Committee, University of Chicago, said that Americans spent more on gambling, $50.9 billion dollars, than it did on all other forms of recreation combined. And these figures are from ten or eleven years ago. Imagine what the figures would show today. And on top of that, each gambler affects at least seven others around them.

Marilyn L, Arizona

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