In November of 2011, after years of legal wrangling, then-Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Expanded Gaming Act.

“I know not everyone agrees with me on this issue, and as I say, I respect that, but I have come to my position thoughtfully and carefully," Patrick said. "And I am pleased to sign this bill today."

The legislation paved the way for one slot parlor and broke the state up into three regions, allowing each of them could host a resort casino.

Nearly four years later, while a slot parlor has arrived, the roulette and blackjack tables that signify Vegas-style gambling are still on the drawing boards.

So what's going on?

An initial timeline in a 2012 report said the resort casinos should be ready to open, well, right about now. So, how’d that go?

“Massachusetts is already four years into this process," said Clyde Barrow, project manager for the Northeastern Gaming Research Project. "It will be six before a resort casino opens. That’s longer than any state in the United States has ever taken between the time legislation passed and a casino opened.”

That, he says, is costly to the state.

“Right now, the state of Massachusetts loses $400 million a year for every year in delays that these casinos are not open," Barrow said.

And the gaming bill wasn’t just about state revenues — a main goal was job creation.

"So we’re talking about up to 10,000 jobs that aren’t being created,” Barrow said.

So what’s the hold up? First of all, Barrow says the gaming commission got off to a slow start.

“The governor and other public officials who appointed the commission were very concerned about appearances of conflict of interest so they purposely went out of their way to select individuals who really had no prior experience in the industry, didn’t really have much knowledge of the industry," Barrow said.

Then each project was required to jump through a lot hoops including signing agreements with host and surrounding communities, as well as surviving a referendum.

Boston College professor Rich McGowan says the slow pace is a good thing.

“This industry depends on legitimacy," McGowan said. "And so it has to move slowly. It can’t move too quickly. People would be upset if they didn’t get a chance to say one way or another how they want these casinos to be operating. And if the casino got rushed through, I think people would have all kinds of problems."

Of course, the casinos have run into all kinds of problems, even with the deliberative pace.

The cities of Boston, Revere and Somerville are all suing the Gaming Commission in an effort to derail a casino plan by Wynn Resorts in Everett — or at the least, they’re trying to get more money out of the project.

In Springfield, MGM has asked for permission to delay the opening of a casino by a year. They say it’s because construction along Interstate 91 is going to foul up traffic for a while, and they don’t want to be blamed for it.

In the southeast corner of the state, the Gaming Commission hasn’t even awarded a gaming license yet. And hanging over that region is the possibility of a competing tribal casino in Taunton, if the Mashpee Wampanoag’s can get the federal recognition they’re looking for.

Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby says it is frustrating that so many things are slowing the process down, but he says the commission has done the best it could.

“Given that we were a brand new agency, given that we had this complicated law, given that we had made integrity and competition the highest priorities, given that the legislature granted such extensive local control to the communities involved here, taking all of that together, I think we have taken the time that we should appropriately have taken. And yes, we would love to have jobs and revenue sooner, but not at the cost of getting the very very best deals.”

All these challenges and delays to the casinos weren’t unexpected, says Patrick Kelly, chair of the accountancy department at Providence College.

“Because the stakes are so high," Kelly said. "And what you’re talking about — you know we’re not talking about a 10 or 20-year effort here. This is going to be, you know, 50, 60 years, well into the future, in terms of these casinos operating.”

That means a lot of money. So of course there were a lot of players.

“Are you familiar with the game of Risk?” Kelly asked.

Kelly says that’s basically what’s going on with the casinos: lots of highly motivated players battling it out to hold the best strategic position.

“And now the Risk board is a lot simpler," he said. "As votes have been taken, host communities have said, ‘OK, we’re not going to have a casino here.’ Decisions have been made.”

Of course, there are still battles being fought. And even when the game pieces do move into place, that won't be the end of it. Just across the border, more casinos are being built in Connecticut and Rhode Island. So the dice will continue to roll.