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(March 3 update: The game has begun – check out the updated story here.)

It’s the first Wednesday of February. For committed game players with dreams of winning millions for going grocery shopping, that can only mean one thing – it’s time for Albertsons’ annual Monopoly Collect & Win game!

Well, about that…

Nothing is normal these days, so there’s no Monopoly today, or tomorrow, or next week at Albertsons, Safeway, Pavilions, Vons, Randalls, Tom Thumb, ACME, Jewel-Osco, United Supermarkets, Shaw’s, Star Market and several other smaller, regional Albertsons-owned stores. But don’t worry, because it’s coming – eventually.

“Our customers are been waiting for it,” an Albertsons customer service representative told Coupons in the News. “We are happy to inform you that there will be Monopoly this year, but it will be very different.”

The first difference is that the game doesn’t begin until March 3 this year, with online pre-registration beginning February 17th. Another difference is a slightly smaller prize pool – there’s a total of $230 million up for grabs this year, down from the $250 million offered last year.

Other than that, Albertsons isn’t offering many details just yet. But presumably, a game that’s “very different” will be different in ways more significant than just a later starting date and a smaller total dollar value. In the era of COVID-19, when we’re all about minimizing our shopping trips and contactless checkout, encouraging shoppers to flock to their local grocery store to get their grubby hands all over little paper game pieces is not exactly conducive to safety.

So Albertsons is making some changes – and it’s not the only sweepstakes sponsor forced to make some concessions to COVID.

“The sweepstakes and contest industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” marketing and promotions attorneys Allison Fitzpatrick and Paavana Kumar of Davis & Gilbert wrote in a recent article. They say many brands and retailers have been “hesitant to engage in these promotions due to fear of seeming ‘out of touch,’ while other brands are looking to cancel or postpone their sweepstakes and contests, particularly if the prize involves a trip or event tickets.”

That said, “setting up a sweepstakes campaign during a global crisis can help both your business and the consumers,” the promotional firm US Sweepstakes advises. “Consumers need all the support that they can get during uncertain times like this. Keep their spirits up and give them the opportunity to have fun and win something for free.”

Fitzpatrick and Kumar agree that sweepstakes are still possible, and even advisable, to help brands and retailers connect with customers, “many of whom are feeling more and more isolated as a result of COVID-19.” However, they caution, “sweepstakes and contests will only be effective during these tumultuous times if they are structured and messaged properly.”

Last year’s Albertsons Monopoly game was only about a month old before it was rudely interrupted by the onset of the pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home orders, which made collecting game pieces difficult. There were three $1 million prizes available, but the only winner was a Colorado woman who participated in an online “second chance” drawing.

For the past several years, the Monopoly contest has offered an online component, including the second chance drawing. So while Albertsons isn’t offering details yet about this year’s game, don’t be surprised if the online game takes precedence over the in-person collection of game pieces this year.

So stay tuned for more details about Monopoly 2021 – which is, perhaps appropriately, the 13th annual edition of the contest. For the sake of those who would like to win a million bucks, here’s hoping that the ominous number 13 proves to be the only thing unlucky about this game this year.

43 Comments

  1. I seem to enjoy this game a lot. I honestly don’t know what else to say. It looks very easy to play and I have no problem with the game, but the only thing that bothers me the most is the spend token entries. I wish I can put how many entries I want towards the “spend tokens” so that I don’t have to keep tapping my phone for each entries. Overall, the game is great! I did win a lot of 3 matches each time I’ve played. I won a high-level ticket which is super rare to see and won lots of water bottles too.

  2. I finally earned enough tokens to get a $20 JustforU credit only to find out that the money had run out!! Here’s how it read when I wanted to spend the tokens:
    “maximum amount available – $4,500.000. Amount Still available $0” What contest runs out of money? And this isnt even real money, it’s only money that can be spent buying their stuff.
    I totally believe each code is preprogrammed and therefore when tokens are awarded, they should be prepared to honor all tokens without limits. They are really doing themselves a disservice by disappointing loyal customers because who else would rack up those kind of token amounts they require for actual prizes.

  3. I earned enough tokens to get a $20 giftcard for Safeway only to find out that the money had run out!! Here’s how it read when I wanted to spend the tokens:
    “maximum amount available – $4,500.00. Amount Still available $0” What contest runs out of money? I ended up throwing my 450 tokens into those useless raffles knowing I will never win! I won at least 20 bottles of water only to see that only 2 bottles transferred into my Just for U account. So sick of the measley .50 off “winners” just to get me to go into Safeway for items I wouldn’t even dream of buying.

    • Cathy Muhlbach says:

      I so agree with you Jill! This isnt even real money, it’s only money that can be spent buying their stuff.
      I totally believe each code is preprogrammed and therefore when tokens are awarded, they should be prepared to honor all tokens without limits. They are really doing themselves a disservice by disappointing loyal customers because who else would rack up those kind of token amounts they require for actual prizes.

  4. Okay so I need help in this game. What is the secret to matching any of the cash prizes online. I’ve gone through at least 50 tickets with the online code and I keep missing the cash prizes by one or two tiles over or winning refreshe water which I aint mad at lol cuz that water sure comes in handy. In any case I’ve tried clicking the same spots now that the cash prizes usually show up in and it seems like now that I’m clicking those spots the prizes never go there -_- Are all these codes already pre-programmed to win a particular prize or what? Help a girl out cuz this is ridiculous. You’d think I’d have won some $5 or $1 in that match 3 already.

  5. Went online using my PC to figure out what’s going on, since I can’t seem to log in on my Android phone. Seems like only people who own an iPhone or iPad are allowed to play and win this year. Preferential treatment given to only Apple customers… Lawsuit anyone?

    • You can actually play online. I don’t even have a smartphone. I just use the website. Sorry. No lawsuit for you. You’re not missing anything though. No matter how you look at it, the “game” sucks major donkey dong.

  6. This game is the worst. You can only win 25.00 in grocery money. Totally unfair, if you eared the points you should be able to get more grocery money. I do at lot of shopping at Jewel every week. I don’t want a hundred bottles of water. I’m thinking of going to another store. Wow, Jewel is so cheap. They made so much money during the beginning of the pandemic last year.

  7. This is horrible. At first I just thought I was having the worst luck ever until I realized this was real and awful. So bummed. My mom and sister and I have been combining tickets for years and all working to fill the board. Even though we only ever won $5 once, it was a fun thing to do. I don’t appreciate the 50 bottles of water all that much. Hard to decide if I’ll continue for the chance of winning something other than water or salad dressing.

    • Hi! I would do the same. Even go out of my way to shop at our local Albertsons, so I could play. This year so uberly disappointed in the game and the match 3 B.S. REALLY WTF!!! Not to mention coupons for things i never buy, forget the group of Free water bottles I did manage to win. Never even won a $1 over 4 years of play. Sorry for my verbage here… but a TOTAL load for shit!!!!! I actually wont shop at Albertsons at all, i can find better deals elsewhere!!!! I agree No longer fun!!!!

  8. What does this year’s game have to do with Monopoly? Nothing that I can see. There is no Monopoly board, no Monopoly pieces. Hey, where’s St. James Place? How about Board Walk? Nothing that has anything to do with Monopoly at all. The only thing that has anything to do with Monopoly is the Monopoly guy on the front of the game pieces.Change the name, just make it a Jewel sweepstakes, and quit calling it Monopoly for heavens sake!

  9. Adrienne Camfield says:

    Where do you log in to enter codes?

  10. I won’t be playing this year as this is one big turn for the cheap by corporate America. It’s headache inducing to sit there and scan or type in the codes only to find you have a one-in-how-many chance to win 50 cents off of an expensive all-natural box of crackers you don’t want.
    How cheap.
    As for the registration, now they can build an even bigger database of our shopping habit statistics and use it to their advantage. Of course we all know that this game has always been about that but this year it’s so obvious. It’s insulting to our intelligence.
    I’m so pissed, I’m letting my displeasure be known with my wallet. I hope this backfires massively on them and it already sounds like it is.
    Stop being so cheap with the people who are paying for your fifth house.

    • You got that right! This game used to be fun but not anymore… I don’t go to my Jewels Food Store as much a big .50 cent coupon? HA Whoopi

      • Ripoff scrooges Jewel Signature Select let me win their small can of original stale peasant bread crumbs . . . twice ! !
        Better than nothing but a reminder that we peasants r lucky go get crumbs off the floor !!

  11. Rhonda Fitzgerald says:

    This new 2021 Monopoly Game stinks.

    I have played the previous game with the actual tickets and board for the past 6+ years. The new game is all about scanning the code number at the bottom of the ticket; and while it’s easier to do, there are so many wasted tickets. I have nine Shutterfly tickets I’ll never use and tokens that
    can be only played one at a time, which is ridiculously time consuming. There is no mention of the prizes and absolutely NO excitement to this new format.

    While I only won $5 two years in a row, it was much more fun to try and win money, cars, homes, and $$$, rather than a free container of bottled water.

    Go back to the more hands on game from past years.

    • Just tried to order my “free” shutterfly mug. It was not free at all and the shipping was almost $10. All the shutterfly offers will go in the trash.

      • lol you just cracked me up Judy. I also have many Shutterfly prizes as well. I always get em every year but never use them because it isn’t really isn’t free. This year I checked how much S&H is and OMG $9.99 is too much for me. It’s a shame Alberton’s invested part of the winnings with a company that most people won’t cash in on because of that shipping charge.

  12. Ok. My receipt says I have three game tickets. How do I get them into the game? There isn’t any codes to enter on my receipt.

    • Your cashier is supposed to give you the tickets dear. If they didn’t give them to you go back and let customer service know.

  13. They might as well drop the Monopoly reference since it has virtually nothing related to Monopoly. I suggest Shop, Play, and Win Tic-tac-toe. Or “Who wants to be a dollarnaire”. Or how about “Open, Scan, Shutterfly”, not very catchy I know, but it is on par with the excitement level of the game now.

  14. The Monopoly game this year is VERY disappointing! Last year’s game was much better. This is more like tic-tac-toe that you can never win. The coupons are worthless to me. The small prizes stink. I emailed Acme Markets and told them of this as well.

  15. Lani Alexander says:

    ok so i signed up for Monopoly game, i put my code in. i do not have a SMART PHONE, i do not have a app on my simple phone. i have a computer, i do not have a g/mail acct. HOW do i print the winning ticket from my computer.? Am i able to play the game still ?

  16. It’s awful. Just when I thought 2020/21 couldn’t get worse, they drop this on us. Like I’m so disappointed my god.

  17. I hate the way there doing this , it sucks. I won’t be playing. They can have it liked the old way better WAY to complicated.

  18. Still trying to figure out how to play online or on the app.

  19. who came up with changing this game and having to scan your tickets ?
    Pandemic or not – last year’s Monopoly game was much better than this.
    Stupid idea !

    • You don’t have to scan them if you use the website instead of the app. That’s what I’ve been doing and its much easier. The game still sucks this year but at least you don’t have to scan unless you want to.

  20. I just opened my first game pieces..I had about 20 and most were invalid. some were 50 cents off food items. but those were coupons only..usually they come with game prices and coupons. the few that did scan were a tic tac game where you can win a prize, points, or a free food item..I think that may be the only way you win free food items this year. I only won a total of 5 points. there are no fandango prizes this year..I’m sad about that..I used my points towards the fandango prize last year, and watched a bunch of movies at home during quarantine. I’m not impressed this year with the changes. I don’t mean to complain..I know it’s a game, and it’s free, and supposed to be fun..but..I was just really looking forward to this. it seems impossible to even win free food items.

  21. Joanne Savage says:

    My app isn’t working. It opens the. Does nothing. Help!

    • I don’t bother with the app. You can go straight to the website (shopplaywin.com) and use that. It works fine.

  22. So much for simple and fun. Being 50, guess out of their demographics. The twenty somethings really go for monopoly.

  23. I got my first pieces today. The pieces are either coupons or scan pieces. The game is on-line – no board. Once I scanned the first piece, a screen popped up to choose 3 boxes from a tic-tac-toe board. If they match you win a grocery item, tokens or box tops for education (where you can choose a school and award codes to the box top program) If they don’t match – you move on to the next piece. Except for part of the monopoly board showing when you choose the boxes – I don’t see the connection to monopoly. It’s really a sad tic-tac-toe game. I won’t waste my time this year ripping the edges off of all those pieces to get coupons for items I won’t buy.

    • Although I note that having read elsewhere it also mentioned that the larger prizes they are offering (including the $1 Million) are set up this year so you only need one piece to win them.

      That may make it a bit more worthwhile to open all the game pieces – it would be awful to have the luck to get one of those much more valuable prizes and then not get it just for lack of checking the pieces.

      Plus as a bonus – if you get coupons for any items you wouldn’t use but are free and non-perishable, there is always some group or another looking for donations of those type items (food pantries, homeless shelters and such).

      • Yes but you have to spend $35 in order to earn any game pieces and, if you buy 3 of an item that earns pieces, you only get one piece not 3. It’s like they are trying very hard to have people not be able to play much less win.

  24. In addition to the bigger prizes that might pose problems (like the mentioned trips and tickets), there might also be issues with the smaller ones.

    These types of games usually offer many free or deals on in store items, and that might raise an issue if the supplies of those items are not available (which, while not as bad as it was at one point, still happens to some degree).

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