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Boardwalk Brouhaha: Monopoly Enters Debit Card Era

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Up until recently, Monopoly changed less than Atlantic City itself, which has had several makeovers, thanks to relentless developers bent on updating America's Playground, as it's known. The Reading Railroad no longer exists, St. Charles Place was leveled to make the Showboat Casino Hotel.

Still, many locales from the game still exist, and casino gambling brought some of the luster back to the Boardwalk. Residents of Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues actually used their status as Monopoly namesakes to thwart an initiative to change their names.

Then, in the mid 1990s, Atlantic City lost its monopoly on Monopoly as Hasbro sold rights to customize hundreds of branded versions of the game to TV shows, paving the way for such permutations as Elvis-opoly, Simpsons-opoly, and even Dogopoly.

For gaming purists, however, the traditional version of Monopoly remained intact, with the same Atlantic City flavor.

But alas, all that is changing, and Atlantic City is now threatened with being completely blown off the Monopoly map. The new American "Here & Now" version of the game will offer sweeping changes.

In April Hasbro let fans vote for 66 popular landmarks from 22 cities across the country, including New York City's Time Square, Boston's Fenway Park and California's Rodeo Drive — to provide the namesakes for the revamped Monopoly, which will be unveiled later this summer, and they will become the new Monopoly standard.

Talk about getting railroaded on the Reading Railroad: In the Internet vote, Atlantic City wasn't even one of the locales up for consideration. Perhaps Hasbro was just sparing Donald Trump the indignity of having one of his precious casinos outvoted by the Golden Gate Bridge or some other locale.

But for all we know, the Donald may have first sneered "You're fired" to other tikes who landed on his properties while he was still in diapers.

A Gamey History

You may say the renaming of Monopoly is just a coldhearted marketing ploy. But if so, how can anyone complain? Wasn't the whole point of Monopoly to extol the fun of squeezing the last dime out of the guy next to you?

If you want a real lesson in business, you might want to look at the history of Monopoly itself. While Hasbro traces the game back 71 years, there are those who say the game already celebrated its 100th birthday — and that Parker Bros. should never have been granted a patent for it in 1935.