If you’ve been to the Lebanon Walmart in the last few months, you may have seen Lebanon-Opoly – a regionally themed Monopoly game released June of this year by specialty board game company Late for the Sky.
What you might not know is that this is not the first Lebanon-themed variant of Monopoly; in 2016, the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Late for the Sky to create Lebanopoly.
This game, still available at the Chamber of Commerce (604 Cumberland Street) for $15, celebrated the Chamber of Commerce’s centennial anniversary.
LebTown discussed the two Lebanon-themed Monopoly games with President/CEO of Lebanon Chamber of Commerce Karen Groh.
At the time of the game, Groh was the Chair of the Centennial Committee, which promoted centennial events throughout the year.
After researching board game companies, she selected Late for the Sky to work with the Chamber on Lebanopoly. During this time, Groh worked directly with the company on various aspects of the game.
“Late for the Sky is the [game company] that had kind of that little polish, that extra finesse to how they laid out their games,” said Groh. “They also had a really nice process behind it; they were well organized, they knew how to sell it, so they were easy to work with.”
Property locations were sold to local businesses, such as the Lebanon Country Club and the Lebanon Federal Credit Union, with costs depending on property value.
The Chamber of Commerce purchased 1,000 copies of the game for $15,600 in 2016. Games were initially sold for $25 each, though the cost has now been reduced to $15, with around 300 copies remaining.
“There’s responsibility, accountability on our part for not doing more to make ours more public,” said Groh regarding remaining games. “The fact that we still have games left is really a matter of not having the retail space to put it in where there’s a lot of foot traffic.”
Between Lebanopoly and later-released Lebanon-Opoly, there are many key differences.
For instance, most of Late for the Sky’s later game’s properties are Lebanon attractions and events, as opposed to the Chamber’s version. Its properties include Downtown Lebanon, Union Canal Tunnel Park, and Snitz Creek Brewery.
The two games are also different in their non-colored properties and additional spaces. In the Chamber’s version, these are also customized to Lebanon, while these spaces are more general in the Walmart version.
This can be seen in the Community Chest spaces, which are called Lebanon History in the Chamber version and Big Fun in the Walmart version. The “Chance” spaces are Lebanon Pride and Contingency, respectively.
The cards themselves also vary.
In Lebanon-Opoly, Big Fun and Contingency cards generally either refer to specific properties or are general (not referring specifically to Lebanon).
In Lebanopoly, Lebanon History and Lebanon Pride cards were sold to local businesses alongside properties, though some of these were given to local nonprofits.
“We’re highlighting businesses that chose to be part of it and we filled the game with a lot more content than what they threw into the other game for Walmart,” said Groh. “I think it just looks like what we did was a lot more planning and intent and what they did looks a lot more quick turnaround for a quick buck.”
Various other elements of design vary between the two, with the Chamber’s version using logos on every space aside from railroads and the Walmart version mostly using cartoons, with images only used on special properties and other spaces.
“We didn’t want it to be just a shelf piece,” said Groh. “We wanted it to be a playable piece, so it needed to look interesting enough and close enough to real Monopoly that people might want to play it.”
While there was no non-compete in the contract, the Chamber of Commerce was not notified that another Lebanon-themed Monopoly game was in the works. While Groh attempted to contact the company’s owners both via call and email, she has not received a response.
“I think it was just bad business – not illegal in any way – it’s just not good business,” said Groh. “To me, it’s just a courtesy; even if they said, ‘We’re going to do one in Lebanon, I know it’s going to overlap, we’re sorry about that, but this was part of our contract with Walmart.’ At least a courtesy. Or return my call to explain something.”
LebTown also reached out to Late for the Sky for this article but our inquiries had not returned at press time.
Full Disclosure: The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce is a sponsor of LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on sponsorship status and sponsors do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about LebTown’s sponsorship program here.