Performing a vital role at Luxury Leisure Talarius with two distinct aspects, Head of Risk and Compliance Mark Thompson is responsible for both the physical security of company assets and for regulatory compliance, including social responsibility, data privacy and anti-money laundering. The former Metropolitan Police Detective Sergeant identifies intelligence sharing and new technology as key to continually reinforcing protections for the operator and its players, with harm minimisation a particular priority for Thompson and the group’s operational teams.
Coinslot: How does your 15 years of experience in the police force contribute to your approach to managing risk and compliance for Novomatic?
Mark Thompson, Head of Risk and Compliance for Luxury Leisure Talarius: I think primarily in terms of the exposure to and appreciation of risk in its broadest sense. An ability to identify, assess and manage all aspects of risk is something that my policing experience furnished me with and is a framework I can apply to all aspects of my role.
CS: Did you enjoy the change from public service to the private sector?
MT: Although the transition from public to private sector wasn’t easy at first, I knew from early on that it was the right thing for me personally and it was made easier, not least because Luxury Leisure Talarius are an excellent company to work for. They promote a culture of excellence, recognising and rewarding hard work, dedication and talent, which was an approach that resonated with me.
CS: In your 5 years working for Novomatic UK, how have you seen standards develop and how do you expect them to change going forward?
MT: I think standards in all aspects of the business have risen, driven by the enormous investment from Novomatic and implementation of their high corporate standard, cultivated by the leadership from our company directors and senior management team. This, combined with regulatory changes and pressures, means that you can’t ever stand still and must constantly be re-evaluating and innovating, not just in our core business which is to provide a clear best in class leisure experience for those looking to enjoy low stake slots in a safe and welcoming environment, but also from my perspective to be constantly evaluating whether my SR frameworks and security provisions are effective.
CS: As traditional targets for theft, how important is it that operators communicate any suspicious or criminal activity they witness between one another, as well as maintaining a strong relationship with the local authorities?
MT: I think the reality is that we’re probably targeted less than many other types of business, precisely because of our efforts to deter and detect crime. Key to this is an effective intelligence sharing network. Within Luxury Leisure Talarius, we believe we have an efficient security alert system that we use to inform our staff of a current threat, whether that be a crime with a specific modus operandi or an image of a particular suspect who targets us. While we do have strong links with other operators and the authorities, I think there is definitely room for improvement with regards to a sector-wide intelligence sharing platform.
CS: How much has and will the rise of new technology in the industry affect the way you perform your role?
MT: With regards to compliance, the improvement in the technologies we use to provide data from our machines does and will continue to give us a greater visibility of the ways in which our customers play. This will help us identify potentially harmful patterns of play and also minimise the potential threat of crime including money laundering.
From a security perspective, suppliers are always developing new systems to safeguard your staff and property, and it is important to work with them to ensure your security systems are proportionate to the risk and appropriate to the environment. We have made an enormous shift towards live monitored alarm systems that provide staff with immediate assistance from a monitoring station, reducing false activations and loss of police response but also increasing staff confidence. These interactive systems are much more relevant to our modern high street venues.
CS: Do increasing trends such as connected digital machines and cashless payments force present a challenge?
MT: Whereas once the main security concern would have been to physically protect your cashbox, a change in the technologies associated with payment and play such as TITO, which has been a successful crime prevention measure, does mean that there are different considerations. Cashless payment methods can afford opportunity for money to be digitally moved around, layered and therefore harder to identify its origin, whilst the shift towards TITO has meant that, although there is less cash moving around in sight and therefore vulnerable, we require an ATR on the shop floor to service a venue and so the security of that machine becomes a focus. Our proprietary data management system and business intelligence resource provides essential analytical input to my security and compliance teams. It is, however, important to remember that we continue to evaluate, make improvements, and safeguard against potential threats in the future.