As arguably one of the most recognizable board games in the world, Hasbro’s MONOPOLY has positioned itself as an iconic gaming brand that not only entertains, but has been changing lives since the early 1990s by putting real money—not just that fluorescent MONOPOLY play “money”—into winners’ pockets.
Indeed, as one of the first licensed brands to ever be featured in a slot machine or lottery game, MONOPOLY brand gaming products have been a runaway success. Since 2006, there have been nearly 270 MONOPOLY-themed lottery games launched with a retail value of $5.7 billion.
“MONOPOLY is the perfect gaming brand,” said Steve Saferin, president, properties group and CEO for Scientific Games. “To start with, it’s a game—and it’s about money. It has worldwide recognition and appeal and has been played by more than one billion people in 114 countries around the world.”
According to Saferin, when the licensing business for slots and lottery instant games took off in the mid-1990s, the success of the games depended on having the right brands. Prior to the 1990s the lottery marketplace was completely different, releasing less than 10 new lottery games a year and for the most part, all $1 instant games. Now however, the marketplace and instant games have changed dramatically, with lotteries launching approximately one new game a week with price points ranging from $1 to $30, with the most popular price at $5.
As a pioneer in licensed lottery games, Saferin started out with his small production company called Media Drop-In Productions, Inc., which eventually became a promotions company, MDI Entertainment, LLC. As instant games became more and more important in the lottery industry, Saferin and his team recognized a new opportunity and decided to create a licensed brand portfolio and offer licensed brands to lotteries so they could share the excitement of brand-themed lottery games with their players.
“We were in the right place at the right time,” Saferin said. “Lotteries were launching more and more games so there were more opportunities to sell licensed brands. And some of these branded games were becoming more important to the lotteries’ bottom line and net proceeds to good causes. So we were able to create a business and our brand portfolio continued to grow.”
In 2003, MDI was purchased by Scientific Games. At the end of that same year, Telecom Production International’s license with Hasbro for MONOPOLY brand lottery games was expiring and Scientific Games was able to secure the license for the MONOPOLY brand and other Hasbro brands for the lottery sector.
MONOPOLY-themed lottery games continued to expand and gain popularity, in parallel with the success of MONOPOLY-themed slot games from WMS Industries (acquired by Scientific Games in 2013). At one point, MONOPOLY was WMS’s most successful slot game and today still ranks as a Top 10 gaming machine for the industry.
JOINING THE CLUB
New to the MONOPOLY-themed lottery game franchise is the MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB lottery game, an exciting new product that incorporated a multi-state lottery game and a television game show. Scientific Games created the MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB television game show which debuted in different markets nationwide this past March. The game show is hosted by television and movie actor Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly, You, Me and Dupree), and co-hosted by television game show veteran Todd Newton (Family Game Night, Hollywood Showdown) on a custom soundstage built in the parking lot of the Rio All Suites Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Thus far, 12 episodes have been produced and there are plans for at least nine additional episodes. The game show is televised mostly in prime time on Saturday and Sunday nights on a syndicated broadcast television network.
To support the game show, 23 U.S. lotteries initially launched a draw game of the same name in mid-October 2014. Unfortunately, sales for the draw game were disappointing and subsequently discontinued by the lotteries at the end of the year. But many in the lottery industry wanted to keep the MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB television game show on the air. Scientific Games was determined and, drawing on its deep experience and expertise developed over decades of industry leadership using global instant product best practices, created a MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB instant game to replace the draw game for an interim period to fund the production of the nine additional episodes. Like the draw game, the instant game sells for $5 and is now on sale in multiple jurisdictions with more launching this month.
To become a contestant on the MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB television game show, the player must log on to a participating lottery’s MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB website and create an account. Their account is then populated with a MONOPOLY board. Each time they enter a code from a MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB lottery instant game ticket, their online game board is populated with two MONOPOLY properties. When they achieve an entire property or color set, they are automatically entered into the next second chance drawing. Winners of the second chance drawing receive an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas where they stay at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The winners (and their one guest each) make up the entire audience for the game show. The audience is divided into five sections named after MONOPOLY board game tokens, such as dog or cat. During every show, one winner from each section is selected to play one of five mini-games onstage for a prize up to $100,000 to be split with their audience section. Whichever of the five winners is willing to risk the most prize money gets to play the final “around the MONOPOLY board” game for the chance to win $1 million.
According to Saferin, the idea for the game show began eight years ago, when Deal or No Deal was televised and Scientific Games obtained its lottery license and created a Deal or No Deal-themed lottery game that sold extremely well.
“Here was a one-hour, highly-produced prime time game show that had no skill involved in the game,” Saferin said. “Since you can’t have any skill involved in lottery games, I started to think that perhaps we could put together a one-hour game show and get as many U.S. lotteries as possible to participate.”
Audience participation is a huge part of the MONOPOLY MILLIONAIRES’ CLUB television game show. “While there is no skill involved in the game, the dynamic is one player vs. the house and there are constant decisions to make along the way. Players can stop playing and take their prize money home or keep going to win the top prize. Because they are sharing their winnings with their section of the audience, the show is very interactive with audience members screaming ‘stop’ or ‘go-go.’ It creates a very dynamic and electric atmosphere.
“Based on the odds, the television game show will give away $1 million five or six times every season,” Saferin added. “That’s as many times as a million dollars has been given away on a game show in the history of television—a pretty amazing statistic. And in fact, during in the first 12 shows there were two $1 million winners.”
Scientific Games has just renewed its portfolio license with Hasbro which covers all channels of gaming: lottery, electronic gaming machines, social gaming and real money internet wagering. More new MONOPOLY brand and other Hasbro brand games are planned for the future. The MONOPLY brand has proven its brand power over the test of time in both the lottery and the slots sectors. And now it is featured in a brand new television game show.
“The MONOPOLY brand remains popular around the world, even as it celebrates its 80th Anniversary in 2015.” Saferin said. “The thrill of owning it all makes the brand a timeless classic that is sure to be enjoyed by future generations.”