Monopoly game

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Template:Infobox Game Monopoly is one of the best-selling commercial board games in the world. Players compete to acquire wealth through stylized economic activity involving the purchase, rental and trading of real estate using play money, as players take turns moving around the board according to the roll of the dice. The game is named after the economic concept of monopoly, the domination of a market by a single seller.

According to Hasbro, since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935, approximately 500 million people have played the game, making it the most played board game in the world. [1] The 1999 Guinness Book of Records cited this same figure [2].


Patent drawing for Lizzie Magie's board game, 01/05/1904.

Variations on the game of Monopoly were developed and played during the early part of the twentieth century. These included various homemade games adapted to the places where players lived. A frequently cited example: in 1904, Georgist (that is, a supporter of political economist Henry George) Lizzie Magie patented a game called "The Landlord's Game" with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.

Although The Landlord's Game was patented, it was not taken up by a manufacturer until 1910, when it was published in the U.S. by the Economic Game Company of New York. In the UK it was published in 1913 by the Newbie Game Company of London under the title Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit. Despite the title change, it was recognizably the same game.

Apart from commercial distribution, it spread by word of mouth and was played in slightly variant homemade versions over the years by Quakers, Georgists, university students and others who became aware of it. As it spread, its rules were changed, most notably in dropping the second phase of the game during which a Land tax was introduced to replace the other taxes, and the shortened game became known as "Auction Monopoly". It was often localized, with the original fanciful property names being replaced by street names from the cities where the players lived. By the late 1920s it was known simply as "Monopoly" and was played very much as it is now.

One version of the game, commonly played in the Philadelphia area, had Atlantic City street names; this game was taught to Charles Darrow, who then began to distribute the game himself. Darrow initially made the sets of the Monopoly game by hand with the help of his first son, William Darrow, and his wife. Charles drew the designs with a drafting pen on round pieces of oilcloth, and then his son and his wife helped fill in the spaces with colors and make the title deed cards and the chance and community chest cards. After the demand for the game increased, Darrow contacted a printing company, which printed the designs of the property spaces on square carton boards.

Darrow took the game to Parker Brothers, who then sold it as his personal invention. Parker Brothers subsequently decided to buy out Magie's copyright, and the copyrights of other commercial variants of the game, in order to claim that it had legitimate, undisputed rights to the game.

Monopoly was first marketed on a broad scale by Parker Brothers on November 5, 1935 with international licensing rights given to Waddington Games of the United Kingdom (both of which are now part of Hasbro). Waddington's version (with locations from London) was first produced in 1936.

Parker Brothers then promoted Darrow as the game's sole inventor. Decades later, when they attempted to suppress publication of a game called Anti-Monopoly, designed by Ralph Ansbach, the trademark suit went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1983, and the court found in favor of Ansbach because Darrow had merely copied an existing game that was known as "Monopoly" by those who played it.

This USPS stamp honors Monopoly's first commercial promotion in the 1930s

The original Monopoly game had been localized for the cities or areas in which it was played and Parker Brothers has continued this practice. Their version of Monopoly has been produced for international markets, with the place names being localized for cities including London and Paris, and for countries including the Netherlands and Germany, among others.

In recent years, different manufacturers of the game have created dozens of versions in which the names of the properties and other elements of the game are replaced by others with some theme. There are versions about national parks, Star Trek, Star Wars, Disney, various particular cities (such as Las Vegas) and villages (such as "Calumetopoly" for Calumet, Michigan), states, NASCAR, and many others.

In July of 2000, in a major marketing effort, Hasbro renamed the mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags to "Mr. Monopoly", felt by some to be a more bland name.

Computer and video game versions have been made available on many different platforms; they have been produced for PC, Amiga, Mac, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, and mobile phones.


Atlantic City version

This is the original version produced by Parker Brothers. The board consists of 40 squares, containing 28 properties, 3 "Chance" squares, 3 "Community Chest" squares, a "Luxury Tax" square, an "Income Tax" square, "GO", "Jail", "Free Parking", and "Go to Jail". In the U.S. version shown below, the properties are named after locations in Atlantic City, NJ.

Standard (American Edition) Monopoly game board layout
GO Mediterranean Avenue ($60) Community Chest Baltic Avenue ($60) Income Tax (Pay 10% or $200) Reading Railroad ($200) Oriental Avenue ($100) Chance Vermont Avenue ($100) Connecticut Avenue ($120) Jail
Boardwalk ($400)    Monopoly    St. Charles Place ($140)
Luxury Tax Pay ($75) Electric Company ($150)
Park Place ($350)       States Avenue ($140)
Chance    Virginia Avenue ($160)
Short Line ($200) Pennsylvania Railroad ($200)
Pennsylvania Avenue ($320)       St. James Place ($180)
Community Chest Community Chest
North Carolina Avenue ($300)       Tennessee Avenue ($180)
Pacific Avenue ($300)       New York Avenue ($200)
Go To Jail    Water Works ($150)       B&O Railroad ($200)       Chance    Free Parking
Marvin Gardens ($280) Ventnor Avenue ($260) Atlantic Avenue ($260) Illinois Avenue ($240) Indiana Avenue ($220) Kentucky Avenue ($220)

Landing on the Jail space by a direct roll of the dice (without being sent to Jail) in the corner between the Light Blue and Maroon properties means you are "Just Visiting" and continue the next turn normally.

Note that Marvin Gardens on the above board is actually a misspelling of the original location name, Marven Gardens. Marven Gardens is not a street, but a housing area outside Atlantic City. The misspelling was originally introduced by Charles Todd, whose home-made Monopoly board was copied by Charles Darrow and subsequently used as the basis of their design by Parker Brothers. It was not until 1995 that Parker Brothers acknowledged this mistake, and formally apologized to the residents of Marven Gardens for the misspelling [3].

Short Line is believed to refer to the Shore Fast Line, a streetcar line that served Atlantic City [4]. Finally, Atlantic City does not have a Water Works—its water is piped in from the New Jersey "mainland" through two pipes.

The other versions of the game have different property names, and the prices may be denominated in another currency, but the game mechanics are almost identical. (The income tax choice from the U.S. version is replaced by a flat rate in the UK version, and the $75 Luxury Tax square is replaced with the £100 Super Tax square.)

London version

In the 1930s, John Waddington Ltd. (Waddingtons) was a firm of printers from Leeds that had begun to branch out into packaging and the production of playing cards. Waddingtons had sent the card game Lexicon to Parker Brothers hoping to interest them in publishing the game in the United States. In a similar fashion Parker Brothers sent over a copy of Monopoly to Waddingtons early in 1935 before the game had been put into production in the United States.

The managing director of Waddingtons, Victor Watson, gave the game to his son Norman (who was head of the card games division) to test over the weekend. Norman was impressed by the game and persuaded his father to call Parker Brothers on Monday morning. This call resulted in Waddingtons obtaining a license to produce and market the game outside of the United States. Watson felt that in order for the game to be a success in Britain the American locations would have to be replaced, so Victor and his secretary, Marjory Phillips, went to London to scout out locations. The Angel Islington is not a street in London but an area of North London named after a coaching inn that stood on the Great North Road. By the 1930s the inn had become a Lyons Corner House (it is now a Co-operative Bank). Some accounts say that Marjory and Victor met at the Angel to discuss the selection and celebrated the fact by including it on the Monopoly board. In 2003, a plaque commemorating the naming, was unveiled at the site by Victor Watson's grandson who is also named Victor.

The standard British board, produced by Waddingtons, was for many years the version most familiar to people in countries in the Commonwealth (except Canada) and many other nations and is shown below.

In the cases where the game was produced under license by a national company, the £ (pound) was replaced by a $ (dollar) sign, but the place names were unchanged.

Standard (British Edition) Monopoly game board layout
Free Parking Strand (£220) Chance Fleet Street (£220) Trafalgar Square (£240) Fenchurch Street station (£200) Leicester Square (£260) Coventry Street (£260) Water Works (£150) Piccadilly (£280) Go To Jail
Vine Street (£200)    Monopoly    Regent Street (£300)
Marlborough Street (£180)       Oxford Street (£300)
Community Chest Community Chest
Bow Street (£180)       Bond Street (£320)
Marylebone station (£200) Liverpool Street station (£200)
Northumberland Avenue (£160)    Chance
Whitehall (£140)       Park Lane (£350)
Electric Company (£150) Super Tax (Pay £100)
Pall Mall (£140)       Mayfair (£400)
Jail       Chance    King's Cross station (£200) Income Tax (Pay £200)    Community Chest    ⇐ GO
Pentonville Road (£120) Euston Road (£100) The Angel Islington (£100) Whitechapel Road (£60) Old Kent Road (£60)

In 2005, Hasbro launched the "Here & Now Limited Edition", updating the properties and prices to reflect present-day London properties. The playing pieces were also changed to be: Mobile phone, Roller blade, Hamburger, Jumbo Jet, Racing Car, Skateboard and London Bus. This version was launched in recognition of the game's 70th anniversary in conjunction with an online version.

For a list of some of the localized versions, including the "Here & Now" edition, and the names of their properties, see localized versions of the Monopoly game.

Properties in detail

This list details the 22 real estate properties in the original United States version of Monopoly.

   Name Price Price Per
Rent Rent
(1 House)
(2 Houses)
(3 Houses)
(4 Houses)
   Mediterranean Avenue 60 50 2 10 30 90 160 250
   Baltic Avenue 60 50 4 20 60 180 320 450
   Oriental Avenue 100 50 6 30 90 270 400 550
   Vermont Avenue 100 50 6 30 90 270 400 550
   Connecticut Avenue 120 50 8 40 100 300 450 600
   St. Charles Place 140 100 10 50 150 450 625 750
   States Avenue 140 100 10 50 150 450 625 750
   Virginia Avenue 160 100 12 60 180 500 700 900
   St. James Place 180 100 14 70 200 550 750 950
   Tennessee Avenue 180 100 14 70 200 550 750 950
   New York Avenue 200 100 16 80 220 600 800 1000
   Kentucky Avenue 220 150 18 90 250 700 875 1050
   Indiana Avenue 220 150 18 90 250 700 875 1050
   Illinois Avenue 240 150 20 100 300 750 925 1100
   Atlantic Avenue 260 150 22 110 330 800 975 1150
   Ventnor Avenue 260 150 22 110 330 800 975 1150
   Marvin Gardens 280 150 24 120 360 850 1025 1200
   Pacific Avenue 300 200 26 130 390 900 1100 1275
   North Carolina Avenue 300 200 26 130 390 900 1100 1275
   Pennsylvania Avenue 320 200 28 150 450 1000 1200 1400
   Park Place 350 200 35 175 500 1100 1300 1500
   Boardwalk 400 200 50 200 600 1400 1700 2000

The four railroads (Reading Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad, B&O Railroad, and Short Line) are each worth $200. Rent is based on the number of railroads that player owns: $25 for one, $50 for two, $100 for three, and $200 for all four.

The two utilities (Electric Company and Water Works) are each worth $150. If a player owns either, rent is equal to the amount shown on the dice times 4. If a player owns both, rent is equal to the amount shown on the dice times 10.


File:US Deluxe Monopoly Tokens.jpg
All twelve tokens from the U.S. Deluxe Edition Monopoly.

Each player is represented by a small pewter token which is moved around the edge of the board according to the roll of two dice. The twelve playing pieces currently used are pictured to the right and are as follows (from left to right): a wheelbarrow, a battleship, a sack of money (1999 editions onwards), a horse and rider, a car, a train (Deluxe Edition only), a thimble, a cannon, an old boot, a Scottie dog, an iron, and a top hat.

Originally, the battleship and cannon were from a Parker Brothers war-based game that failed on the market; the premade pieces were recycled into Monopoly usage. Hasbro recently adopted the battleship and cannon for Diplomacy.

In 1999, a token representing a sack of money was added following an online vote. The other two options were a biplane and a piggy bank. Unlike the tokens introduced in special themed editions, this token was added to the base set. More recently, a train has also been added to the possible lineup (pictured).

Early localized editions of the standard edition did not include pewter tokens but instead had generic plastic head-shaped tokens (not unlike the MSN Messenger logo). These plastic tokens can be seen in the German Monopoly set pictured at the beginning of this article.

Also included in the standard edition are:

File:Monopoly spinner.jpg
The dice in Britain were replaced with a spinner through a lack of materials due to World War II
  • A pair of six-sided dice.
  • A Title Deed for each property. A Title Deed is given to a player to signify ownership, and specifies purchase price, mortgage value, the cost of building houses and hotels on that property, and the various rent prices depending on how developed the property is. Properties include:
    • 22 streets, divided into 8 color groups of two or three streets. A player must own all of a color group (have a monopoly) in order to build houses or hotels.
    • 4 railways. Players collect higher rent if they own more than one railway. Hotels and houses cannot be built on railways.
    • 2 utilities. Players collect higher rent if they own both utilities. Hotels and houses cannot be built on utilities.
  • A supply of paper 'money'. The supply of money is theoretically unlimited; if the bank runs out of money the players must make do with other markers, or calculate on paper.
  • Thirty-two wooden or plastic houses and twelve wooden or plastic hotels. (the original and the current 'Deluxe Edition' have wooden houses and hotels, the current 'base set' uses plastic buildings) Unlike money, houses and hotels have a finite supply. If no more are available, no substitute is allowed.
  • A deck of 16 "Chance" cards and a deck of 16 "Community Chest" cards. Players draw these cards when they land on the corresponding squares of the track, and follow the instructions printed on them.

Hasbro also sells a Deluxe Edition, which is mostly identical to the classic edition but has wooden houses and hotels and gold-toned tokens, including one token in addition to the standard eleven: a railroad locomotive. Other additions to the Deluxe Edition include a card carousel, which holds the title deed cards, and money printed with two colors of ink.

The F.A.O. Schwarz in New York City sells a custom version called "One-of-a-kind Monopoly" for USD$100,000.[5][6] This special edition comes in a locking attaché case made with Napolino leather and lined in suede, and upgrades include:

  • 18-carat (75%) gold tokens, houses and hotels
  • Rosewood board
  • street names written in gold leaf
  • emeralds around the Chance icon
  • sapphires around the Community Chest
  • rubies in the brake lights of the car on the Free Parking Space
  • the money is real, negotiable United States currency


Two to ten people may play Monopoly, but the game dynamics are ideal with six players. With more than six players, it is too likely that an individual will not have the opportunity to purchase significant property, and be bankrupted without ever having been in contention. With four or fewer players, there are not as many possible combinations of property ownership, and the importance of astute trading and negotiation is diminished.

Each player begins the game with his token on the Go square, and $1500 ( £1500, 1500, etc.) in cash. All property deeds, houses, and hotels are held by the bank until purchased by the players.

Official rules

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Players take turns in order, as determined by chance prior to the game. A player's turn consists of rolling two dice and advancing on the board the corresponding number of squares clockwise around the track. Depending on where he lands, he takes any of a number of actions.

House rules

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Many casual Monopoly players are surprised and disappointed to discover that some of the rules they are used to are not part of the official rules. Many of these house rules tend to make the game longer by giving some players more money. Some of the more common house rules include:

  • Free Parking jackpot, which usually consists of an initial stake plus collection of fines and taxes that would otherwise be paid to the bank. A player who lands on Free Parking wins the jackpot, which may then be reset with the initial stake (if any).
  • Players in jail not allowed to build and/or collect rent.
  • A bonus amount for landing directly on "GO" (commonly an additional $200).
  • Unlimited houses and hotels.
  • Not having auctions when a player passes on their chance to buy the property they land on, or neglects to stake their claim.


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Monopoly involves a substantial portion of luck, with the roll of the dice determining whether a player gets to own key properties or lands on squares with high rents. Even the initial misfortune of going last is a significant disadvantage, because one is more likely to land on property which has already been purchased, and therefore be forced to pay rent instead of having an opportunity to buy unowned property. There are, however, many strategic decisions which allow skilled players to win more often than the unskilled.

One common criticism of Monopoly is that it has carefully defined yet almost unreachable termination conditions. Many players' childhood memories of Monopoly involve giving up playing the game after a seemingly endless series of hours playing. This problem can be resolved by playing with a time limit and counting up each player's worth when the time is up.


Numerous official and unofficial add-ons have been made for Monopoly, both before its commercialization and after. The best-known expansion to the game is the Stock Exchange Add-On, published by Parker Brothers in 1936. Originally released in 1936, it was later redesigned and rereleased in 1992 under license by Chessex, this time including a large number of new Chance and Community Chest cards (more info).

In the Stock Exchange add-on, the Free Parking square is replaced with the Stock Exchange. The add-on also contained three each of Chance and Community Chest cards directing the player to advance to the Stock Exchange. The 1992 add-on also included seven other Chance cards and eight Community Chest cards (to play with the 1992 add-on, one Community Chest card - "From sale of stock you get $45" - is removed).

The add-on also included thirty stock certificates, five for each of the six different stocks, differing only in its purchase price, ranging from $100 to $150. Shares, like properties, can be considered to be tradeable material, and could also be mortgaged for half their purchase price. Shareholders could increase the value of their shares by buying up more of the same company's shares.

When a player moves onto Free Parking, stock dividends are paid out to all players with any unmortgaged shares. The amount to be paid out to each player is determined based on the number and kind of shares owned. Specifically, a player receives dividends from each stock based on the following mathematical formula:

(purchase price of share / 10) × (number of shares owned)2

The player who lands on Free Parking can also choose to buy a share if any remain—should the player decline, the Bank auctions a share off to the highest bidder. The 1936 rules are ambiguous with regards to the stock that is put up for auction, and convention has it that the winner of the auction chooses the stock to be received.

The Stock Exchange add-on serves to inject more money into the game, in a similar manner to railroad properties, as well as changing the relative values of properties. In particular, the Yellow and Green properties are more valuable due to the increased chance of landing on Free Parking, at the expense of the Light Purple and Orange groups.

The game was again reengineered in 2001, this time adding an electronic calculator-like device to keep track of the complex stock figures (more info).

"Playmaster", another add-on, kept track of all player movement and dice rolls as well as what properties are still available. It then uses this information to call random auctions and mortgages that will be advantageous for some players and a punishment for others, making it easier to free up cards of a color group. It also plays eight short tunes when key game functions occur, for example when a player lands on a railroad it will play I've Been Working on the Railroad. See the BoardGameGeek database for more.

There have also been several unofficial Monopoly addons, some of which are able to be played on their own as well as in addition to Monopoly.


Monopoly Tycoon is a PC game in the Tycoon series that takes the luck factor out of Monopoly and makes it a strategy and speed game. Being a computer game, it is the only true "improvement" that this game has had. Moreover it allows online multiplayer possible.

Games with the Monopoly name

Parker Brothers has also sold several games which are spinoffs of Monopoly. These are not add-ons as they don't function as an addition to the Monopoly game, but are simply additional games in the flavor of Monopoly.

A short-lived television game show, Monopoly, ran for twelve weeks in 1990 before being cancelled.

In North America, a variety of slot machines have been produced with a Monopoly theme.

Themed Monopoly games

Over the years, several speciality Monopoly editions have been released, including:

and dozens more

National Monopoly games

Several Monopoly games featuring locations for several countries have been officially released, sometimes as limited editions, including:

Similar games

There are games which are "Monopoly-like".

  • "Fast Food Franchise" is a board game by TimJim games which shares Monopoly's core mechanic, but through careful design guarantees that it will actually end.


Because Monopoly evolved in the public domain before its commercialization, Monopoly has seen many variant games. Most of these are exact copies of the Monopoly games with the street names replaced with locales from a particular town, university, or fictional place. Some notable variants include:

  • Anti-Monopoly, written by Ralph Anspach in 1974.
  • Dogopoly [7], created by Spahits Games in 1977 with a 25th anniversary edition released in 2002.
  • Solarquest, a popular space-age adaptation, was released by Golden in 1986.
  • Ghettopoly, released in 2003, caused considerable offense upon its release. The game, intended to be a humorous rendering of ghetto life, was decried as racist for its unflinching use of racial stereotypes.
  • The Mad Magazine Game, a Mad Magazine themed board game in which the object of the game is to lose all your money, play is counter-clockwise, and the dice must be rolled with the left hand. Released by Parker Brothers in 1979.
  • Atlantik is a Monopoly-based computer game for KDE on Linux, again, with the street names changed. It maintains the same set of rules for Monopoly while adding multiplayer support across a LAN or the internet.
  • Galactic Magnate [8], a version modified to minimize the impact of luck and having reachable termination conditions.
  • City in a box series games were themed with named properties from major cities throughout the USA.

There are also numerous Monopoly versions featuring locations of other cities and countries, including San Francisco, CA, Canada, several UK regions, and several European countries, but these versions are rare outside their intended location. See Localized versions of the Monopoly game for more on these.

Late for The Sky produce a huge range of Monopoly based games with the same rules and board layout as Monopoly but with a large selection of special themes. Some of these presumably make Monopoly more interesting for children and other specific market segments. They also offer Monopoly based games based on your own theme.

In the 50th anniversary edition, it comes with another special piece, a bronze bag of money.

Popular culture

  • McDonald's Monopoly is a sweepstakes run by the fast-food chain, with a theme based on the board game where you receive a prize if you collect all the properties of one color section. The playing pieces are often found on medium to large drinks and french fries.
  • A common dismissive comment about a currency is to refer to it as "Monopoly money", especially if it differs substantially, for instance being more colourful (for instance United States residents referring to Canadian money) or of a lower value (for instance the British referring to the Euro).
  • The arch rival of The Simpsons' character C. Montgomery Burns is Uncle Pennybags, who has been featured in a few episodes. Also, in another episode titled "Brawl in the Family" (Episode DABF01[[9]], the Simpsons try to decide what game to play, going through a list of Monopoly clones including: Edna Krabopoly, Gallipolopoly, and Star Wars Monopolgy. Later a family fight breaks out when they discover Bart using red Lego pieces as hotels; one of the police officers later said: "Another Monopoly-related violence, chief. How do those Parker Brothers sleep at night?"

See also

Further reading

  • Monopoly as a Markov Process, by R. Ash and R. Bishop, Mathematics Magazine, vol. 45 (1972) p. 26-29.
  • Do Not Pass Go, by Tim Moore. ISBN 0099433869

External links

McDonalds Monopoly


Other versions

Game theory

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