Gambling opponents say Auckland Mayor Len Brown has blotted an otherwise good copybook in accepting campaign funds from casino operator SkyCity.

Mr Brown's financial returns include a contribution of $15,000 from the company among total donations to his cause of $581,900.

SkyCity said yesterday it made an identical campaign contribution to former Auckland City Mayor John Banks - who lost the Super City leadership race despite having $948,937 at his disposal - although it did not show up as a donor in his returns.

He did not return calls from the Herald yesterday, but most contributors to the campaigns of both mayoral contenders were kept anonymous.

Lobby group Gambling Watch and the Maori public health agency Hapai Te Hauora Tapui are disappointed Mr Brown accepted SkyCity's money.

Hapai spokeswoman Zoe Martin-Hawke said Mr Brown had been very supportive of a "sinking lid" policy which meant poker machine licences could not be transferred from venues closing down to new premises. But she was sad he had taken money from a casino operation.

"We ... hope he would find alternative money both for himself in future campaigns and for community groups in general," she said.

"I think it highlights again the need for people to practise what they preach and for the Government to help us find alternative sources of funding - as they did with tobacco funding."

Mr Brown said during the mayoral campaign that he would be proud to apply Manukau City's sinking-lid policy on pokies throughout the region.

Gambling Watch co-ordinator Dave Macpherson, a veteran Hamilton City Council member, said Mr Brown had "an excellent record as Manukau Mayor on pokies" but taking casino money was "not a good look".

"My pick is that he could have done without that $15,000 - he would have been better advised to say: thanks, but no thanks."

Mr Macpherson said corporate donors were "making sure you've got friendly legislators in your camp when you need them".

"It's a public perception thing more than anyone else," he said.

"[Candidates] can say that of course it's not going to affect how they vote, but if you've had a decent amount of money from someone, you're going to give them the time of day when they want to come and lobby you - you're not going to be rude to them or tell them to naff off."

SkyCity general counsel Peter Treacy said his company made donations to political campaigns "to facilitate the democratic process".

Casino donation slammed

"We believe it is in everyone's best interests for leading political candidates to run adequately-funded campaigns," Mr Treacy said.

A spokesman for Mr Brown, Glyn Jones, said a donation from SkyCity was not going to change the Mayor's "strong views on gambling".

Meanwhile, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide intends asking the auditor-general whether Mr Brown should have accepted billboard space worth $3375 from the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, given the centre was funded largely by the former Manukau City Council.

Another mayoral spokesman said that in agreeing to provide the space, the centre's trust decided that any candidate who asked to use the billboard should also be given that opportunity.

But Mr Hide said his concern was "whether you can have a council-controlled entity contributing to an election campaign whether it's made widely available or not - it's really about the use of ratepayer resources".

Auckland Council member Jami-Lee Ross is calling on Mr Brown to refund the $3375 to Auckland ratepayers, saying the centre had been generously funded by Manukau ratepayers, including his Howick ward constituents.