Disney, which has long fought against the expansion of casinos in Florida, is bringing to an end some licensing deals that have been viewed as hypocritical to that anti-gambling stance: slot machines, online slots and lottery tickets featuring Marvel and Star Wars characters.
The New York Times reports the announcement, made over the weekend, comes as the Florida legislature again prepares to address whether Las Vegas-style casino resorts should be permitted to open in the state. The Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista attracts 52.5 million visitors annually; the entertainment giant argues that gambling hurts the state’s family-friendly brand.
Although Disney is so opposed to gambling that it doesn’t even casinos on its cruise ships — that’s an oddity in the industry — Marvel continued to sign slot machine agreements after it was purchased by the corporation in 2009 for $4.6 billion. But a Marvel spokeswoman told The Times the last deal was made two years ago, and the company has “discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements as part of its integration with Disney.” Those that remain will be allowed to expire.
Marvel heroes like Iron Man and the Avengers have appeared on scratch-off lottery tickets in several states, but the company said there are no active licensing deals.
A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World attributed the lag to the complexities of aligning corporate policies following a merger.
Disney is under fire from a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank for opposing a plan that would allow casino developers to build massive resorts in South Florida, all while the entertainment giant licenses its Marvel comics superheroes to gambling websites.
The Institute for Liberty, an opponent of healthcare reform that characterizes itself as “an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream,” has launched a television ad called “Disney’s Dark Side” that accuses the company of hypocrisy: Although the House of Mouse contends it’s “protecting Florida’s family-friendly image,” IFL argues it’s more concerned with these resorts encroaching on Walt Disney World’s market share.
“The truth?” the TV spot’s narrator says. “Disney’s so-called family-friendly image includes profiting from licensing comic book characters to online casinos.”
That’s certainly true. An online search for “Marvel casino slots” brings up countless results — including, plainly enough, Marvel Slots, which provides information on games featuring Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four. Blade, Daredevil and Elektra also have their own slots (as you can see in the image above). Of course, it’s not only Marvel: Warner Bros.-owned DC Comics has a deal with Cryptologic for online slots featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Sandman, Watchmen and Green Lantern, among others. There’s also one based on Mike Mignola’s Hellboy.
But neither Warner Bros. nor Dark Horse has a dog, or a resort, in the South Florida casino fight. You can watch the TV spot below.
This is either one of the best or worst licensing ideas I’ve ever seen. I’m tempted to go for the latter. Apparently this is not a hoax, dream or imaginary story, but an actual gambling game you can play at various Vegas casinos. How do you play it?
The Wild symbol of the game is the Hellboy logo, which substitutes for all other symbols except for the Scatter and all Wild wins are doubled. The Scatter symbol is none other than Hellboy’s red, boulderous Right Hand of Doom which pays any across the pay-lines. When the Right Hand of Doom thunders 3, 4 or 5 symbols across all the reels, the “Underworld” multi-level bonus game is triggered. Follow Hellboy as he travels down into the cavernous depths of Hades as he searches for his missing team members, traversing the four levels of the Underworld to reach the Chamber of Fire and retrieve the hidden, holy Relic of Power –kicking some serious monster-butt all the way!
Well that made no sense at all. I wonder if a BPRD game is in the works as well. (link and image via)