What is Lay Betting and When Should Bettors Do It?

What is Lay Betting and When Should Bettors Do It?

Lay betting is the process by which bettors have the opportunity to bet against a certain outcome. Rather than the orthodox method of betting, which is backing the result you think is most likely, lay betting gives you the chance to bet against that probable outcome from happening, which can often provide you with better odds.

Exchange Betting

Lay betting is only possible on an exchange website. Exchange betting involves different people offering other people odds, depending on the chances of a certain outcome unfolding. Thus, lay betting is also the exchange of odds, but in reverse. In a lay bet, a person will offer someone else the odds of a result not to happen.


Unfortunately, when betting on an outcome not to happen, you must, when placing the bet, enter the liability of your bet in your stake. This means that your stake, because you are betting against the outcome, must be larger than it would be if you were betting for an event to happen. However, the bonus is that the likelihood of the outcome happening (if you lay it) is greater.

Example | Laying in Horse Racing Betting

The liability depends on the probability of an outcome. For example, in a horse race, the liability of a 20/1 shot is extremely large, because the likelihood of the horse not winning is very likely. Therefore, it is probably better to lay the favorite in a race if you do not think the horse is going to win because the liability will be smaller.

Take the 2011 Epsom Derby. The winner, Camelot, would have been a fabulous price to lay and the liability would have been very small indeed. However, the horse won and those that finished behind would have required a much larger liability. That’s why it is wise to pick a horse that is a short priced favorite.

A good way of demonstrating this is So You Think’s victory in the 2012 Prince of Wales’ Stakes at Royal Ascot. The market implied that nothing could beat the Australian wonder horse, but, coming towards the line, the Coolmore-owned Group 1 winner was worn down by the Godolphin-owned Rewilding. Not many expected this result; however, those that did lay against So You Think would have counted their coins, especially seeing as the liability on the horse would have been extremely low.

Other Sports to Lay

Horse racing aside, laying can be a fruitful way of winning money in other sports such as soccer and golf. In soccer, there are, of course, a smaller amount of outcomes and unless there is a strong favorite – the kind that you might see in an English FA Cup game – the odds of a lay bet will probably not be that appealing. However, it is definitely worth fishing around the exchange markets because there are usually many options.


Perhaps the one drawback of a lay bet is that there are limited opportunities to use it. The lay bet is usually only provided for certain markets, and these are often win/lose. Don’t let it discourage you though, as canny bettors can easily make a fast buck or two if they play their cards right.

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