'Mystery shoppers' find huge failures in fight against problem gambling

The Department of Internal Affairs will be keeping a closer eye on gambling venues after a massive failure by pubs, hotels and casinos to identify problem gamblers.

Actors displayed all the signs of having a problem at more than 100 venues. Source: 1 NEWS

It spent three months collecting information from undercover gamblers at more than 100 venues across New Zealand, with only one stopping the operator acting as someone unable to control their betting.

Venues are supposed to be able to identify those with gambling problems, but the investigation showed this was not occurring.

"To be honest we were somewhat surprised at the extent of the issue that we have now uncovered," Maarten Quivooy from Internal Affairs told ONE News.

"To then come back and find that actually all of those situations our mystery shoppers were not approached, were not offered assistance. I think is really concerning.

"We'll now be working with them and watching really closely to make sure they step up to the plate."

Some of the mystery gamblers sat at pokie machines for hours without intervention, and took out cash on multiple occasions while saying scripted lines that hinted at the problems they were facing.

"There is no excuses for it," says Simon Whyte of the Lion Foundation, which has almost 2000 pokie machines.

In a statement the country's largest casino, SkyCity, says staff had "actively engaged with the 'mystery shoppers' on a number of occasions, and that they were clearly providing a safe environment for customers."