An 18-year-old man from Covington, Kentucky, who falsely yelled “bingo” last month has been cited for second-degree disorderly conduct. As part of Austin Whaley’s punishment, Kenton District Judge Douglas Grothaus recently ordered him not to say the word “bingo” for six months.
“Just like you can’t run into a theatre and yell ‘fire’ when it’s not on fire, you can’t run into a crowded bingo hall and yell ‘bingo’ when there isn’t one,” said Park Hills Police Sgt. Richard Webster, the officer who cited Whaley. On Feb. 9, Webster was working an off-duty security detail at a Covington bingo hall when Whaley entered the hall with several other youths and yelled “bingo,” Webster said. “This caused the hall to quit operating since they thought someone had won,” Webster wrote on his citation.
“This delayed the game by several minutes and caused alarm to patrons.” Webster said the crowd of mostly elderly women did not take kindly to Whaley’s bingo call. “At first, everybody started moaning and groaning when they thought they’d lost,” Webster said. “When they realized it wasn’t a real bingo, they started hooting and hollering and yelling and cussing. People take their bingo very seriously.” Had Whaley apologized for his actions, Webster said he probably would have sent him on his way with a warning. “But he refused to say he was sorry,” Webster said.
“He seemed to think he could say whatever he wanted because it was a public building. I tried to explain that that’s not the case.” When Whaley appeared in Kenton District Court last week, the judge ordered Whaley: “Do not say the word ‘bingo’ for six months.” The youthful defendant could have faced up to 90 days in a jail and a $250 fine on the misdemeanor charge. So long as Whaley, who had no prior criminal record, doesn’t get into any more trouble within six months, though, the charge will be dismissed.