A man taking a smoking break from bowling at Boston Bowl in Dorchester thought the odds at the shell game outside were pretty good: Put down $40 and if he guessed right, he'd win $100.
But, the man told the Boston Licensing Board this morning, after he handed the money to the guy running the shell game on the evening of Sept. 24 - which the guy added to his stack of "a few hundred in his hand" - he realized everybody else huddled around the car hood with bottle caps on it were in cahoots and that he was about to be scammed. So he asked for his money back - just as Boston Bowl security happened on the scene.
The cap guy refused and instead went to his car. The hapless gambler followed him, to try to take a photo of his license plate, he said. "Don't try this," he said the guy told him, "This is a stolen plate number." And then, to drive home the point that he wanted to be left alone, the victim told the board, the guy whipped out a pocket knife moments before a security guard hustled over and the man drove off.
The security guard told the board he saw the scam man and his touts earlier, but said the main guy was holding a clipboard, so he figured he was just collecting signatures for a political campaign, rather than running a scam. He said he then went on his rounds of the bowling alley and a couple other nearby businesses before returning to find the scene had changed dramatically.
A bowling-alley attorney said his client had no idea the illegal gambling was going on outside.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.