Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rope in v.

[Schele de Vere, Georgia Scenes (1872): ‘Rope in, to, in the sense of gathering in, enlisting, is a bold metaphor derived from the common practice of gathering the cut hay of a meadow by means of a long rope, drawn by a horse’]
(orig. US)

1. to swindle or cheat; to ensnare a victim into a (crooked) gambling game; thus the rope, the snare that is used (see cit. 1872).

implied in roped game under rope v.
[US]Georgia Scenes in Schele De Vere (1872) 629: I’ll lay bank, if you must have a game, but I’ll make one condition: no roping in! I won’t have it.
[US]J.H. Green Reformed Gambler 203: He made farther developments as to the mode pursued by the light-fingered gentry to swindle unsuspecting men out of their money. He stated that places in this city kept persons employed to ‘rope in’ strangers.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 8/1: [They] are on the look out for a ‘flat,’ whom they intend to ‘rope in’ if he will only stand the ‘jolly.’.
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 59: The same hang-dog faces you see about the corner of Prince and Broadway [...] twisting their dyed moustaches, and eyeing the victim they have ‘roped in.’.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 348: He was a silvery talker, and could ‘rope in’ the sharpest of green horns, readily.
[US]A. Pinkerton Thirty Years a Detective 209: This game [bunco] consists in ‘roping in’ or inducing an unsuspicious victim, with plenty of money, and then fleecing him of all his ready cash.
[UK]Snacks July, No. 1 n.p.: He were sixty-nine year old – ’n’ got roped in by a young widow, ’n’ chouseled out of twenty-six thousan’ dollars [F&H].
[US]J.F. Lillard Poker Stories 54: When a fellow was roped into the game the gamblers [...] bought a deck for a dollar.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘That Pretty Girl on the Army’ in Roderick (1972) 485: A Sydney private barmaid, who had once roped him in.

2. to involve, to include, to force someone to be involved [post-1920 use is SE].

[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 47: Rope in, to join one’s self to a set or party uninvited, to attach any one to the same unceremoniously or without his consent.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Sept. 18/2: ‘Jones has been roped in,’ say his friends; ‘I hope she’s got some money, so that he can go it a bit, and drop something amongst us.’.
[UK]A. Binstead Gal’s Gossip 164: If you wish to make me feel like a stray cat in a strange garret, rope me into a church!
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy Abroad 129: You Johnnies are a lot of confidence men, who live only to rope in rich American girls, so you can marry them.
[UK]E. Pound letter 27 Aug. in Read Letters to James Joyce (1968) 41: Do you know of anyone whom you think ought to be roped in to cooperate.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1977) 84: I don’t think we’ll rope in the B.B.C. It is so confoundedly public.
[UK]H. Ashton Doctor Serocold (1936) 163: I ought to have roped in Jevons to do this.
[US]I. Bolton Do I Wake or Sleep in N.Y. Mosaic (1999) 85: He hated Mr Andrews’ parties – he never, if he could help himself, got roped into them.
[US]R. Chandler Playback 108: I’m kind of snoopy when I get roped in on a phoney like that one.
[US]F. Elli Riot (1967) 139: I’ve been in this zoo over four years already [...] after getting roped in on this screwball deal I’ll probably be here four more.
[UK]H.E. Bates A Little of What You Fancy (1985) 543: Rope her in. Must have Edith with the troops.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 193: He wanted me to rope young actresses into doing fuck flicks.
[US]D. Hecht Skull Session 254: I wondered if Paulie would rope you into helping him.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 17: She was enough to rope in every rube on the lot.

3. as rope in the pieces, to make money.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 987/2: late C.19–20.

4. to arrest.

[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 22: The School Board officer roped him in.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 35: The New York police, on the other hand, seemed to be more efficient in roping you into jail.
[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 285: Perhaps he got roped in after all?
[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 181: ‘Can I have your word to rope him in?’ demanded the man.
[UK]Whizzbang Comics 78: They roped him in an hour ago on the information you sent.

In compounds