Lay Betting

The most common method of betting is to size up a market and make a prediction on who will win or what will happen. This can also be referred to as ‘backing’ a selection, but it is also possible to bet against something happening by ‘laying’ a selection. In some situations, when there are only two possible outcomes, backing one selection is simply the equivalent of laying the other, but in many markets it can also be a very useful tool.

For example, it may be that a horse is favourite to win a race, but you think the price is far too short. Having studied its form, you decide it is very unlikely to win but you cannot quite work out which other horse might finish first. If it was only possible to bet on the winner you would probably just walk away, but when lay betting is available you can wager that the favourite won’t win.

Lay betting allows punters to act as the bookmaker and can be found on betting exchange sites where customers effectively bet against each other. For each market, there will be a price to back the selection and another price to lay the selection.

Backing one outcome works the same way as a traditional bet and it will be clearly displayed for punters what the odds are, how much they wish to stake and the potential profit if they win. Customers who decide to lay a bet have more to consider, as they must also bear in mind the liability their wager carries.


When laying a bet, you need to have the funds to be able to cover a potential payout just as a normal bookmaker would, so you need to look at the odds and work out the backer’s stake that you are prepared to meet, which combines to calculate your liability.

  • Example - You decide that Player A in tennis is not performing well enough to win a tournament and lay a bet at odds of 10/1, predicting they will not lift the trophy. If you decide to allow a backer’s stake of £5, this would result in a liability of £50 as you would have to pay £50 to a winning punter (the customer would receive a £55 payout, made up of the layer’s £50 liability and their own £5 stake returned to them). If any other player wins the tournament, you win £5.

When laying a bet, you can only win the backer’s stake and liability often far exceeds potential winnings, apart from when the odds are very short. It is a case of weighing up how much you are willing to risk for potential rewards and keeping a close eye on your liability. It is nevertheless an exciting way to bet and gives punters even more control when they are considering their options.

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