What is Lay Betting? - Understanding Lay Betting

April 03, 2020

What is lay betting? 

Lay betting is an alternative on exchanges such as Betfair, where punters will play the role of bookmaker, providing chances to sell a bet rather than back a bet. It is one aspect of matched betting, where all reverse punters and sell bets on the same event to guarantee victory. For instance, if you put a bet on a football team not to win a match, bet on a football team not to win a game or bet on a golfer not to make a birdie on a specific hole. You are the bookmaker in lay betting. It's almost the same as the moments you've said to someone, “I can bet he won’t come or I can bet won’t call you" etc.

This was rather a complicated process in the previous times which includes backing all the other horses on the market for various prices. However, you might take somebody else's bet on the horse, cheers to lay betting. And as soon as the horse does not win, then you are safe.

The same happens when you glance at athletic competitions. Though forecasting the final result of a horse race or football match may be difficult to predict, you will also consider it safer to take a stand that one horse/team won't win. Throughout this case, lay betting helps you to back up your confidence as the bookie, and gamble onto something that will not happen.

What is meant by Liability in lay betting?

Liability applies to the sum of money you are risking whenever you are making a bet-whether that is a backup or laying a possible result. The same amount of money that you kept on risk will be removed from your account if you end up losing your bet.

When you back up the result, the liability is your stake-the money you made a bet upon. Unlike back bets where you just risk your investment irrespective of what the odds are going to be, the liability of a lay bet depends on the purely odds.

How to calculate liability of a lay bet:

Here is a simple formula for you to easily calculate your liability:

Liability = (Backers stake * (Lay odds – 1)

For Example:

Imagine the £ 10 Back stake was set for team A to defeat team B by a bettor at a decimal odd of 4.0.

The Bookmaker team A is at the Decimal odds of 4.0 while approving the bet. In this scenario the game will have three different outcomes: 

  • First possibility:  Team A loses- The Bookmaker gets defeated and the bettor needs to get paid by the bookmaker.
  • Second possibility: Draw between the two teams- Bookmaker earns a profit and holds a £10 vigorish in the stake.
  • Third possibility: Team B wins- The Bookmaker wins and holds a £10 vigorish in the Backer.

You still deduct the 1 from the odds, as you have to give the money to all the victorious gambler.

From the example above of team A and team B:

Liability = (Backers stake * (Lay odds – 1)

£10 x (4.0 -1) = £30

Therefore the Bookmaker stands to lose £ 30, which is the liability, or chance, for their lay bet.

Remember that the Bookie can: 

  • Gain the Layed sum for every Lay bet, and no more (which is £ 10 in this example).

  • Lose the risk which can surpass the stake Layed (when the decided chances are over 2.0). 

Although that is just from the viewpoint of the bookmaker, the mechanism is the same with bettors who put lay bets on a sports betting platform— like Betfair.

Lay bets were previously for bookmakers only. Yet after Betfair and other sport betting exchanges have exploded onto the market, there is no lack of places that encourage daily gamblers to "become the Bookmaker."

Why is it important to calculate your lay bet liability?

Being able to determine the lay bet liability is crucial to the trading of bets, it helps:

  • To evaluate how much you are liable to pay if the lay bet fails.
  • In order to know if trading would be beneficial for you at the current odds.
  • To Minimize the risks by keeping to your staking process, and by understanding just how big the chances will be within your boundaries.

Which Sportsbooks offer lay betting?

The best way to place a bet nowadays is to use a betting platform or an online bookmaker. After the first websites launched online at the end of the 20th century, Internet sports betting has been increasingly popular. Dozens of bookmakers are already on the internet, used by millions of people worldwide.

Those online bookmakers are extremely simple to use. Once you've created an account and invested some money, you can put whatever bet you wish to with only a few taps. Most betting platforms carry a broad variety of sports and games, and some are very popular in terms of the odds and the lines they provide. They also provide discounts and incentives for placing money and betting with them.

Here are some of the recommendations:


Betfair is an online gambling site that runs the largest online betting exchange around the globe. It also has a Sportsbook, online casino, online poker, and online bingo open.


Smarkets is a betting platform that gives you a new, fairer form of betting and investing in sports, politics and public affairs. This operates similar to a stock exchange, with customers purchasing (backing) and selling (laying) bets on actual games and events.


Betting on Matchbook provides you a new approach to wager on sports, various advantages over conventional bookies. The major difference is that you're not placing bets against a bookmaker on Matchbook, but with other individuals very much like you.


Betdaq is an appealing forum for skilled bettors looking to escape the more costly charges applied to their winnings at Betfair.

What is meant by “to back” or “to lay” a bet?

To' back' a selection on the market is to make a wager for anything to occur. This is identical to a wager you would place with a conventional bookie.

To' lay' a selection on a market is to make a wager on something that is NOT going to happen or, in other words, a bet on something that is going to happen.

The most popular sport to place a lay bet on

The most famous games for lay betting are horse racing and football, but it's also prominent in other sports. Sometimes bookmakers will offer' lay' odds on significant sporting events with a clear favorite.

How to place a lay bet?

For instance, we’re using Betfair as our example, as the on-screen layout at all betting exchanges is almost the same

  • You will find two different boxes as you open the site. One box is for making a traditional back bet while the other one is for a lay bet

  • Then Click on the lay box for your chosen selection

  • You can add the stake when you add the selection to your bet slip. This varies greatly from the traditional bet because you enter the amount you want to make available to bet for the bettors. For instance, just assume that you're the bookie, this is the sum of money that the client will give you to place the bet. The formula is already mentioned above.

  • When you press the' Place Bets ' option, the cash will go to the market and it's open for people to match. If anyone else has cash in the system at about the same value, the exchange will match your bets automatically. Otherwise, you'll have to wait for anyone to take the price you've decided to offer.