A borough business which provides training and support to stop people plunging into gambling addiction has received a massive cash boost.
Appley Bridge-based Epic has been given a £70,000 loan from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
The UK’s leading gambling harm minimisation consultancy was founded by CEO Paul Buck after he developed a pathological gambling disorder during his career working for a major European bank.
Having blown millions of pounds and ended up in prison with £434,000 of debt, Paul formed a gambling support service that has now helped more than 90 offenders address their addiction ahead of being released from jail and then set up Epic once he was no longer behind bars.
Epic also works with high-profile clients including Eton, the Army, Chelsea FC, Barclays Bank and the English Football League and will use the new pot of money to recruit more team members delivering life-changing support and training packages.
Mr Buck said: “Gambling has come a long way from the high street betting shop with virtual casinos and gambling apps now available to anyone, 24 hours a day.
“From financial institutions to football clubs, organisations simply have no idea of the level of the problem, and how quickly it can escalate and damage their security, productivity and reputation, as well as the lives and heath of their staff or people under their care.
“We know one in five people now gamble on their smartphones at work, and a recent study found that people with a gambling problem are 15 times more likely to take their own life so this is a serious problem that is not going away.
“This investment from NPIF will help us to take the next step in our journey which is the creation of a number of new jobs for people who can help us to meet the growing demand for the life-changing training and support services we deliver within business and organisations.”
Epic, based at the Northern Diver Building on Appley Lane North, has already grown from three staff to a team of 14.
The business also provides gambling education services and risk management consultancy work to help companies address the risks of problem gambling.
Recently Epic secured a large contract with sports betting and gaming giant GVC Holdings and will educate more than 12,000 state school children.