The public servant who regulated and defended gambling law says SkyCity's expansion plan is the right time to ask if pokies should be used to fund charities.

Former Gambling Commissioner Peter Chin said there were "huge moral challenges" around funding community events from gambling proceeds.

"Is this the appropriate way to provide community money?"

Mr Chin, who stood down after six years as commissioner in 2010, said there were questions to be asked over the viability of a convention centre which required gambling money to be profitable.


He also said the negotiations called time on the relationship between pokie machine money funding community groups and the pubs, clubs and casinos the cash came from.

He said there had been a growth in funding community groups through pokie machines to the stage where many relied on them for survival.

"Gambling is a pastime and enjoyment thing - it is here to stay. Using them as a means to provide community funding - it is difficult.

"That provides some huge moral challenges within the community."

Mr Chin, the former Dunedin mayor, said it was "time to have that discussion" with the 10-year anniversary of the Gambling Act looming.

AUT health science dean and professor Max Abbott said the amount of money flowing from pokie machines to community groups had created wider issues of dependence.

"It is not only problem gamblers who are addicted to gambling - it is government and local communities."

He said the voluntary sector was an important balance in society against corporate and government sectors.


Its reliance on gambling money meant it was less likely to act as a safety measure, he said.

Anglican Bishop of Auckland Ross Bay said the church refused to take any funding from pokie machines - a decision which had shut down access to a large pool of funding.

Bishop Bay said the church, which faced similar issues around alcohol and smoking, would be objecting to the SkyCity's expansion plans.

Official party donation returns show the National Party received a $60,000 donation from SkyCity in 2005, and its coalition partners Act and United Future received $12,000 from the company.

Labour also received $60,000 in 2005.