Monopoly (board game)

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Monopoly's mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags.

Monopoly is an American board game based on the economic concept of monopoly. According to Parker Brothers, it was designed by Charles B. Darrow in 1934. Originally distributed by Parker Brothers, Monopoly is now the property of Hasbro under the Parker Brothers brand. Monopoly is one of the best-known American board games, and is immensely popular worldwide, having been published in 80 countries and 26 languages.


The Landlord's Game

For a more detailed treatment, see The Landlord's Game.

Monopoly is based primarily on The Landlord's Game, which was an earlier board game that was invented by an advocate of Henry George named Lizzie Magie to promote anti-capitalist notions.[1] There are several similarities that Monopoly picked up from its predecessor, as well as changes:

  • Go directly to jail is in the same place
  • The jail is in the exact opposite corner
  • Free parking zone
  • Passing go to collect after rounding the board
  • The four railroads are in the same place
  • Property values increase in the same manner in the two games
  • Both games have utilities in approximately the same positions
  • Chance is in both games, Community Chest is only in Monopoly


Monopoly's development has its roots in the Great Depression and earlier, where it was first developed to understand the adversarial process of finance, and then as a means to make light of the financial problems posed by real monopolists. It inherits many of the original anti-capitalist notions of its predecessor, but waters them down to make them less obvious.[2]

The modern game of Monopoly was developed by Charles Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania, who had trouble supporting his family after the stock market crash of 1929 and during the Depression. He developed the game based on Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he spent summers.[3] He initially took the game to Parker Bros., who rejected it because of "fifty-two fundamental errors" such as game length and complicated rules.

Thus, Darrow and a printer friend produced it in a Philadelphia department store. When Darrow could no longer keep up with demand, Parker Bros. realized their error and took over the game. Royalties made Darrow a millionaire.

The British agents of Parker Brothers decided to replace the American properties with ones based on locations around London. This version was sold throughout British Commonwealth countries, except for Canada, which used the American version.[4] Since then various "special" versions have been created (some with the permission of Parker Brothers, others without) using local landmarks for the properties. In addition, with the trademark having long expired, numerous "opoly" versions have entered the market, often based on the locality where they entered.


A game of Monopoly

In Monopoly, two or more players (with one player acting as Banker and Auctioneer) take turns rolling dice and moving their tokens clockwise through boxes drawn around the edges of a square board based on street names in Atlantic City. If the player rolls doubles, he or she gets an extra turn. Upon landing in a box, a player may buy the property from the bank if no other player owns it, auction the property through the Bank to the highest bidder, pay rent to the player who owns it, or draw a Chance or Community Chest card. Landing on Luxury Tax costs the player $75. For Income Tax, the player must pay either $200 or 10% of the total of (1) the player's cash and (2) the purchase price of all the player's properties and improvements. When the player passes Go, he/she collect $200. If the player lands on Jail or Free Parking, nothing happens. If the player rolls doubles three times in a row, he/she goes to jail. The player can also go to jail if he/she lands on the corner box marked Go To Jail, or gets a Chance or Community Chest card stating to go to jail. To get out of jail, the player must pay the $50 fine, roll doubles on his or her turn or use a "get out of jail free" card.

Rent and property costs increase as one goes around the board. The purple and light blue properties are on the South edge, magenta and orange on the West edge, red and yellow on the North edge, and green and dark blue on the East edge. Rents are doubled if the player owns all of a color. Railroad rents increase for each additional railroad the player owns: one railroad is $25 in rent, two is $50, three is $100 rent, and owning all four will garner $200 in rent. Owning one of the two utilities will garner five times the number the player rolled on the dice, and owning both utilities will garner ten times the dice number. Building houses on the player's lot increases rents; after 4 houses, the player can erect a hotel instead. Houses and hotels are only bought from the bank, never from other players, and there is a fixed supply, which can lead to housing shortages. Not all deals are done with the bank. Players may sell or trade properties, which is often a key part of gaining a monopoly by buying all properties of a color group. A player wins the game by being the last one in the game and bankrupting his or her opponents. Players may avoid bankruptcy by morgtaging a property for one half of the face price of the property, selling houses and hotels for one half the price of the buildings, or trading. If a player still does not have enough assets, they are removed from the game.[5]

House Rules

Some players have added extra rules, called "House Rules", such as fines paid into a kitty in the center of the board and collected by whomever lands on Free Parking, collecting double salary when landing on GO, traveling on railroads, double buildings, "free market" (not needing a monopoly to build), instant hotels, partnerships (two players form a monopoly), utilities are treated as railroads, uneven building, unlimited buildings, immunity from rent, game starting auction, double priced and rent properties, two game boards in play, no building, trading, or collecting from Jail, and many more.[6]

Board Variations

Overseas versions have cities appropriate for the their marketplace; for example, the British version of the game has squares based upon areas within London.

Several authorized and unauthorized versions have been created featuring different American cities, sports teams, comic book covers, movies and more.

The tokens identifying each player are cast-metal representations of ordinary objects. With the first release of the game, the tokens were an iron, racecar, shoe, thimble, top hat, and battleship. A Scottie dog and wheelbarrow were added in the early 1950s. In 2013, the utilitarian iron will be replaced by a cat.[7]


Anti-Monopoly is a book by retired San Francisco economics teacher Ralph Anspach that apparently discusses the darker side of the history of the Monopoly board game and its makers.[8] There is also a board game with the same title. The Anti-Monopoly game is a negative variant of the regular game, with more updated properties. Most of the board is initially owned by a few players (The Monopolists), who are pitted against the other players (Competitors) in an attempt to break down the Monopoly.

See also


  1. The scandal behind the anti-capitalist roots of Monopoly. New York Post (January 25, 2015).
  2. Monopoly Was Designed to Teach the 99% About Income Inequality
  3. The "Short Line" railroad -- considered the least desirable of the four railroads -- wasn't actually a railroad in Atlantic City, it was the local bus line. Also, "Marvin Gardens" -- one of the yellow properties -- was taken from a nearby town since Atlantic City at the time didn't have enough actual streets for the 22 properties needed.
  4. History of Monopoly
  5. History of the Monopoly Game at Hasbro
  6. Monopoly House Rules
  8. Anti-Monopoly