I suspect that they will do anything and everything they can to get this back. This may mean hiring counsel in your friend's backyard to sue him there if necessary.
That said, if your friend has no money or assets to pay, there is little that can be done. It may, for example, force him to file a bankruptcy, etc. But this depends on the laws where he lives.
He should consult a local lawyer as well as a Vegas lawyer to discuss his options and get a risk assessment.
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The fact he is in another jurisdiction, doesn't make him immune from being sued. Just as with any other debt, the business will decide if it is worthwhile pursuing considering the costs and likelihood of recovery.
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Yes, for 1.6 million in markers, the casino almost certainly will go after him in his home jurisdiction, unless he settles his debts.
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Just an FYI - they can sue him in the US and serve him overseas through what is called Hague Convention service. What that means is your friend in Asia might not have a lot of time to answer once he receives the complaint, which is usually served by local law enforcement. Depending on where he lives, this also bears risks as you can well imagine.
Tell your friend it's time to lawyer up and face the music. Coming up with a payment plan before the wheels start turning is imperative.
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