CRICKET players were warned about the dangers of gambling by a former addict who was sent to jail.
Paul Buck, chief executive of EPIC Risk Management, told his story to cricketers at Worcestershire County Cricket Club on Wednesday, March 22.
The gambling awareness workshops are taking place across the country due to a grant from famed cricketer Graham Gooch to the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA).
Mr Buck, a former bank manager from Lancashire, went to prison for two years and eight months in 2012 after stealing over £400,000 from a Santander client.
The 41-year-old said he used the money to pay off debt, which he accrued through gambling a total of £5m and placing almost 14,750 online bets.
"£400,000 was the bank's not mine. I found a way of putting it into my own account," he said.
"It was a completely hidden addiction. It was hidden from my family, friends and work colleagues.
"That's where the danger can be with drugs and drink, whereas with gambling you can keep it hidden.
"It's the fastest growing addiction and there is little help out there for it."
He has focused his workshops on sportsmen and women, military personnel and financial traders, as these groups are vulnerable to developing gambling addictions.
Ben Twohig, aged 18, a spinner for Worcestershire County Cricket Club, said: "I heard about his story when I did a PCA Rookie Camp last year at Edgbaston.
"I found it so interesting how quickly it can spiral out of control. I think it's important to raise awareness."
Graham Gooch gave £50,000 to the PCA for its 50th anniversary legacy appeal in order to help educate players about the danger of addiction.
EPIC Risk Management held workshops for all of the Aviva Premiership rugby clubs last year.