By Patrick Gower
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has admitted taking a $15,000 donation from SkyCity for his mayoral campaign.
He says it has not influenced his position on the Government's deal which will give the casino more pokie machines.
Mr Brown wears his heart on his sleeve but is refusing to say just what that position is on the issue.
It is difficult for Mr Brown, as he campaigned for a ‘sinking lid’ policy which means fewer pokies in Auckland.
But it turns out he has had a payout of his own from the casino: a $15,000 donation for his 2010 mayoral campaign - the same amount as John Banks.
Despite Mr Brown trying to keep his views on the extra pokies quiet, Prime Minister John Key is shouting from the roof tops that the Auckland mayor supports the deal.
"When we were out announcing that we were doing a deal with Len Brown in Auckland… Len Brown knew as well that it will create 1,000 jobs in its construction, 900 jobs ongoing,” he said in the House.
But Mr Brown's silence is now being attacked by opposition parties.
“Len Brown is the Mayor of Auckland, he knows this deal will damage Auckland and Aucklanders - he should speak out against it,” says Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.
“Look I don't want to criticise Len but what I've heard so far is a surprise to me, yes,” says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says.
“I think he needs to look carefully at the social costs of gambling and what we really need in Auckland,” says Labour’s David Shearer.
The pokies deal will see the Government change the law to give SkyCity more pokies if it builds an international convention centre.
And today Mr Key would not rule out allowing SkyCity to expand its use of updated pokie machine technology: machines that use ‘debit cards’ instead of coins, or take notes above the current $20 limit.
“The new technology will enable people to be fleeced faster,” says Mr Shearer.
Dr Norman says SkyCity is a parasite.
3 News asked SkyCity if New Zealanders should be concerned by these debit gambling cards that Mr Shearer claims will fleece people faster.
Sky City never got back to us.