HAYWARD — The owners of Hayward's only gambling establishment are looking at expanding their business at a bigger, fancier location on Foothill Boulevard, the same building that now is home to Kumbala restaurant and nightclub.

But the proposal is almost certain to face opposition from some elected officials and neighbors.

Charles Blanchard, whose family has owned and operated the Palace Card Club since 1968, filed a relocation application with the city last month but did not return calls for comment about the plans this week.

The 24-hour poker club is in cramped quarters on Mission just south of D Street. The relocation application seeks to move the venue to Foothill near San Lorenzo Creek and double the number of gaming tables from eight to 16, as well as increase the number of players per table from eight to 10.

The proposal also outlines plans for a bar with food services. The card club would be open at all hours, seven days a week, according to the application.

Mayor Mike Sweeney said he has not seen the application but that he would be concerned about any plans to expand the establishment's gambling operations downtown.

"That would be a very large operation," he said of the Foothill building. "I don't see how that would be good for the city."

Alex Aguilar, owner of Kumbala, could not be reached for comment this week. On Friday, authorities posted a sign on Kumbala's front door announcing that the business' alcohol license hasbeen suspended for violation of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Act.


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Aguilar, who had fought with city officials over late-night safety and underage drinking complaints at the spacious club, spoke last year of his plans to close it down and sell the building, which includes two other large storefronts. It was not immediately clear which part of the building the Palace Card Club owners wanted to use for their establishment.

The family-run card club has generally received support from Hayward officials, with police often commending its managers at public meetings for running a safe operation.

But Sweeney has been a strong opponent of the card club's continued operation downtown, voting against a 2006 amendment to city code that allowed the heirs of original Palace owner Katherine Bousson to continue running the business after she dies.

Originally, as part of a city policy enacted more than 25 years ago to curb a glut of small downtown casinos, all of the card clubs were forced to close down after their original owner was no longer involved in the business.

The Palace Card Club was the only one of those casinos to survive that law into the 21st century.

Most city council members had said they were satisfied with the card club's ongoing presence downtown, and voted 5-2 in 2006 to allow Bousson to transfer her ownership to her children. Sweeney and Councilman Bill Quirk were in the opposition.

"I support bringing entertainment downtown, and I think Palace Card Club could be a part of that," said Councilman Kevin Dowling, who voted in the card club's favor in 2006.