By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Lisboa, the oldest casino in this thriving gambling city, features a polished black marble floor flecked with what looks like glittering gold. While all gamblers eventually find only fool’s gold, like the glittering pyrite in the marble floor, government is mining real gold from the casinos here.

Macau, a special administrative region of China, is raking in 8 billion patacas (US$1 billion) a month this year in casino taxes.

That is up by almost half from last year and likely to grow much more in the next few years as Chinese with wads of renminbi search for excitement, glamour, commercial sex and a brief escape from the rigors of life back home, not to mention the hope of striking it rich at the tables.

The casinos generate so much tax revenue that the Macau special administrative region cannot spend it all, anomalous proof that government is not an unlimited user of money.