Monopoly is one of those games that can cause all kinds of arguments, and it’s often banned in homes by parents who are sick of all the fighting.
But did you know that some entire countries have banned the game? The ban isn’t always permanent, but there are some places where you can’t play Monopoly. Read on to find out more.
Monopoly isn’t currently banned in China, but it was for a long time in the late 20th Century. The exact dates aren’t clear but the reason for the ban was because the Chinese Communist Party viewed the game as being in direct opposition to its ideals.
Since the CCP took control of China in 1949 we know that the ban was likely implemented sometime soon after this date.
The game has been available again for a while, probably since around the same time that the country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 [Source]. So, Monopoly was likely banned in China for around 50 years or so.
Obviously, a game ‘promoting’ capitalism would be something that a communist party would look down on, although you could argue it somewhat misses the point since the board game was originally designed to highlight the flaws in capitalism. At least the board game is now available.
For a while, many bootleg versions of the game were released, but visit any major toy store in China now and you’ll be able to pick up an official version.
Another country that decided that the capitalism Monopoly promoted didn’t fit with its values was Cuba under Fidel Castro.
Castro took things a step further, as when he took over in 1959 he not only banned the game but also ordered that all copies of the game be destroyed, as he didn’t want a single version of the Monopoly game in the country.
Monopoly had been a really popular game in Cuba before this point, and so it’s no surprise that in spite of the ban an unofficial version of the game was released, called Capitolio.
The ban still seems to be in place, and censorship remains a pretty big issue in the country, with citizens not entitled to a lot of freedoms you’d find elsewhere.
For a time, back when Russia was part of the Soviet Union, Monopoly was banned in the country for the same reasons that it was in China and Cuba – the country didn’t want a game built around capitalism to clash with its communist ideals.
That did change in 1988 though when Parker Brothers printed an official version of the game for the Soviet Union. Then, as the Cold War ended, more Monopoly versions started to spread through Eastern Europe including the new Russia edition in 1997 [Source].
What’s interesting is there was almost a role reversal in recent years when a company in Poland launched a new game called Kolejka, which is inspired by Monopoly but instead is more based on the communist past of the country when it comes to making transactions, leading to it being branded the “communist Monopoly”.
Russia banned this game in 2016, saying that the communist values of the game were seen to be anti-Russian.
As part of the Soviet Union, Monopoly was banned in Hungary at the same time as it was in USSR/Russia.
However, it’s worth mentioning it separately because the country had a real problem with illegal homemade copies of the game. To counter that, the leaders in the country decided to create an official game to handle the issue, called “Gazdálkodj okosan!” which translates roughly as “Budget wisely!”.
The aim was to buy one property and then gradually fill it with luxuries, whilst occasionally paying for everyday expenses. But the messages in the game were very political.
Landing on the zoo or a sports space would be free, while any spaces mentioning nightclubs or alcohol were priced very heavily and had moral messages discouraging the behavior.
So Monopoly is, obviously, not banned in the USA nor has it ever been completely banned. However, according to a survey in June 2021, the game has been banned by families in almost half of households, with one in five saying that they had permanently banned the board game from their game nights.
The survey concerned all board games, but it was Monopoly that led the way in terms of household bans, with respondents saying that games sometimes had to be shelved because players would either cheat or would be sore losers, with arguments spoiling quality family time.
The results showed that 46% of people had experienced game nights when someone quit in a bad mood because they were losing, while 44% had seen people accused of cheating or two players having an argument.
As well as one in five households banning a game for good, the same percentage of respondents also had to ban a particular player. And yet, only 13% of people who replied said that they were the problem most or all of the time, with the majority blaming other people.
It’s just a game, guys!
6. Buckingham Palace
In 2008, the Duke of York Prince Andrew took a visit to a building society in Leeds in the north of England, to commemorate the facilities being refurbished.
To celebrate his visit, executives at the bank presented him with a version of Monopoly, and he announced that the game was banned amongst the royal family in the UK because it “gets too vicious”.
It just goes to show that despite the reputation of the British royal family, they are still the same as many other families around the world. It’s also quite funny to picture the Queen having to scold the other members of the family for taking Monopoly too seriously.
It’s crazy to think of something as innocent as Monopoly as being banned in whole countries, but it definitely has upset some governments in its time. And even when a national ban isn’t in place, there are certain families – whether good, honest American families or fancy royal ones – that simply won’t allow the game to be played.