Lay Betting Explained – Learn What Is A Lay Bet

lay betting

8 minutes

Last Updated: June 30, 2022


Have you ever looked at a betting offer and thought to yourself, “I’m not sure who will win, but I’m sure who won’t”?

If you are this type of bettor, this is the right article for you.

In this text, we explain what does lay mean in betting and how you can switch from betting on something to happen to betting on something not to happen.

Stay with us and learn everything there is to know about lay betting and lay bets.

What Is Lay Betting?

With traditional betting, players are staking money on specific events in a sports match. They are “backing” a certain outcome that they think will happen.

On the other hand, placing a lay bet on a certain outcome means that you are betting on that particular outcome not to happen.

You can look at it this way also. With traditional betting, you are choosing a particular outcome, and you will win money only if that outcome happens.

For example, if you are betting on a horse race, you are backing one horse against the field.

With lay betting, you are also choosing a particular outcome, but you will only win money if that outcome does not happen. In this case, if you are betting on a horse race, you are betting on the field against one horse.

Placing lay bets or lay betting is not available on most sports betting platforms. This form of wagering is possible on online websites that feature betting platforms called “exchanges.”

Lay Betting on Betting Exchanges

Betting exchanges are online betting platforms that allow bettors to place bets on sporting events.

But instead of betting on fixed odds set by the betting platform as on traditional betting sites, exchanges allow bettors to bet against each other.

lay bets

To allow bettors to bet against each other, exchanges feature both the option of placing traditional bets as well as the option of placing lay bets.

This means that every time a punter is backing an outcome, he is essentially betting against other players that have placed lay bets on the same event and the other way around.

Examples of Lay Bets

To explain the principles on which betting exchanges operate, we have prepared a few examples of lay bets:

  • Novak Djokovic not to win Wimbledon
  • Rich Strike not to win the Kentucky Derby
  • Manchester City not to beat Manchester United in the FA Cup

For each of these bets, you have offered a price for which other bettors can place a bet. You are acting as the bookmaker, offering odds for specific outcomes which others people can bet on.

Let’s break down one of the bets from above to get an even better understanding of the process and dynamics in lay betting.

In the third lay bet example, you think that Manchester United has what it takes to go undefeated against Manchester City and place a lay bet on Manchester City.

Because your bet was successfully accepted, that implies that other bettors have successfully placed bets on Manchester City, and you bet against their prediction.

How to Place A Lay Bet

The process of placing a lay bet can be overwhelming to bettors that are new to this betting option, so we have prepared a step-by-step guide on how to place a lay bet and explained all the factors that you should take into account during this process.

how to place a lay bet

Let’s say you want to place a lay bet on the World Cup qualifier between Wales and Ukraine. You open the match offer on a betting exchange, and there are two columns next to the name of the teams.

One column says “Back all,” and the other says “Lay all.” In both columns are betting odds and amounts, and it should look something like this.

Back All Lay All
Wales 1.99 2.02
€12 €29
Ukraine 1.98 2.02
€54 €341

We want to place a lay bet on Ukraine to advance at 2.02, which means our bet will be a win if Wales advances to the next stage.

The amount displayed in the “Lay all” column under the odds for Ukraine represents the collective amount of money other bettors placed on Ukraine to advance to the next stage.

After we click on our prediction, the exchange will display us the bet slip, which will look something like this:

Lay (Bet Against) Backer’s odds Backer’s stake Payout
Ukraine 2.02 50 €101.00
Liability €51.00

In the field of the “Backer’s stake,” we are going to type in the amount of money that we want to win with our bet. In this case, we will type in 50.

The bet slip automatically calculates and fills out the two remaining empty fields, “Payout” and “Liability.”

In lay betting, to calculate liability, the bookmaker will first multiply the backer’s odds with the backer’s stake to calculate the payout:

  • 2.02 x 50 = 101

And then deduct the backer’s stake from the payout to calculate the liability.

  • 101 – 50 = 51

In this example, our liability is €51.00, which means we are risking €51.00 to win €50.00.

It is important to note that we have to have at least €51.00 in our betting account to place this bet.

Advantages of Using Betting Exchange Sites

A lot of bettors prefer using betting exchange sites over traditional betting platforms for several reasons. The main advantages of using betting exchanges are

  • Better odds
  • Opportunities for guaranteed profit
  • Collecting information
  • No account limiting

Better Odds

On average, betting exchange sites offer better odds when compared to traditional betting platforms. This is mostly the case with backing odds and odds for longshot bets.

The difference between odds on exchanges and traditional bookmakers can be up to 20% which gives betting exchanges a huge advantage in this field.

Opportunities for Guaranteed Profit

Betting exchanges allow players to buy and sell bets, meaning they can place bets at one price and then sell them at another, thus making a guaranteed profit. In this regard, betting exchanges work on similar principles as the stock market.

Collecting Information

In the world of sports betting, information is money, but in most cases, it is almost impossible to find the right information at the right time if you don’t know where to look at.

Because the odds are constantly adjusted on exchange platforms, they can be a great starting point.

Instead of looking for information that you are not even sure exists, you can use a betting exchange platform to monitor the odds and only search for information if you notice a sudden shift in odds prices.

In this case, you will have to place your bets on other platforms that haven’t yet made the necessary adjustments.

No Account Limiting

Seasoned and professional punters know from experience that the majority of online betting sites apply betting or account limits if they notice you are taking too much money from them.

Some betting sites will apply these limits even if you are not winning much money, but your accounts have professional betting patterns.

what are lay bets

Because betting exchanges are just an intermediary that allows you to place bets on neutral ground against other bettors, they will not interfere with your account.

Win or lose, all the funds come from other players, and for them, the important thing is to take the commission.

Disadvantages of Using Betting Exchange Sites

Before you decide to use betting exchanges to place your bets, you should also know some of the drawbacks. The main disadvantages of using betting exchange sites are:

  • It can be difficult to match bets
  • Fewer bonuses than with traditional betting sites
  • Low number of available exchange sites
  • Exchange commission

It Can Be Difficult to Match Bets

With betting exchanges, there is a reasonable chance that you might encounter difficulties with matching bets.

This is because exchanges have liquidity that leads to unmatched bets. This can especially be the case with lower leagues, less popular sports, and less popular markets.

This is because there aren’t a lot of bettors that wager on these sports and markets, and you will have difficulties finding someone who can place an opposing bet. Without the other side, your bet becomes void which can cost you time and money.

Betting Exchanges Offer Fewer Bonuses

One of the most appealing aspects of online betting is the numerous bonuses and promotions that traditional bookmakers offer to stay relevant.

However, this is not the case with betting exchanges, as many of them offer a limited number of bonuses. In fact, it is not uncommon for betting exchange sites not to offer bonuses and promotions at all.

This will have a big effect on your betting bankroll and limit the number of bets and markets that you can try out without risking your own money.

Low Number of Betting Exchange Sites

If you decide to use betting exchanges to place your bets, you might have trouble finding the right one. This is because, unlike traditional sports betting sites, the choice is much narrower.

Exchange Commission

As we have mentioned, using betting exchanges is not free. To make money and keep their platforms profitable, online betting exchanges will charge you a commission for winning bets.

Most exchanges charge a commission of around 5%. However, this may vary depending on the platform you are using.


If you are here to find out if you should use traditional sports betting sites or betting exchanges, we have an answer. The answer is you should use both.

By using both types of online betting platforms, you give yourself a chance to take the best from both worlds.

The online betting environment is such that, in most cases, you will place your bets with traditional betting sites.

However, there will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of features that betting exchanges have. Keep your options open!

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