The Best Lay Betting Sites in 2024

Check out some of our favourite sports betting sites and find out more about lay betting below.

It’s fair to say that there are two sides to every bet, although as a punter you’re usually only concerned with the outcome that you’ve backed to happen with your hard-earned cash.

This is commonly described as a ‘back bet’, and it remains the key driver of the money gambled online and sportsbooks across the UK and Ireland.

But did you also know that you can bet on an outcome not to happen?

This is referred to as a ‘lay bet, but what exactly does this mean and how can you use it as part of your wider wagering strategy? Here’s our comprehensive guide to lay betting and the best sites for practicing this in 2024!

Best Lay Betting Sites UK

William Hill

18+. Play Safe. New customers using Promo code BB40 only, Min €10/£10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 4 x €10/£10, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. See full Terms & Conditions. #ad

Lad​brokes Sports

18+ New UK + IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min 5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x 5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply.

Betfred Sports

18+ | New UK & NI customers only. Promo code ‘SPORTS60’. Deposit & place first sports bet of £10+ in one bet transaction, at odds of Evens (2.0) +. settled within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets credited within 48 hours of bet settlement, 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS validation may be required. Max 30 Free Spins on Justice League Comics. 7-day expiry. | Play Responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply.

Mr Mega Sports

18+ | Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st Deposit, Min Deposit,: €15, max €10 free bet valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. | System bets not eligible. Neteller,Skrill and Paypal not eligible. | Play Responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply.

What Is Lay Betting and How Does It Work?

Lay Betting Guide Lay Betting Guide

In a typical sports betting transaction where you’re placing a back bet, it’s the bookmakers who represent the lay side. As a result, they offer relevant odds that they’re willing to lay in relation to the event in question, with your job as a punter being to identify and create value where possible.

But on a betting exchange, you’re free to both back and lay yourself, by matching wagers with fellow punters rather than sportsbooks directly. When you lay, you’re effectively betting that an outcome won’t happen and offering the odds to potential backers.

The question that remains, of course, is how exactly does this work in practical terms?

Well, we all know the format of a classic back bet; where you may wager on a particular football team to beat another in a one-off game. However, if you lay the same team in a bet, you’re effectively wagering that they’ll lose or the match in question will end as a draw.

There’s an immediately interesting takeaway here, as in this instance, lay betting creates two outcomes that are playing in your favour as opposed to one. This is an important advantage in sports such as football, where the draw is a common outcome and occurs more often than you think.

In fact, the figures suggest that 25.5% of all Premier League fixtures between 2015/16 and 2019/2020 ended in draws, and lay betting certainly enables you to capitalise on this without having to select the tie as a single outcome. This turns what is a less than even-money bet into one that’s considerably more likely to come in (depending on your selection and their opponents, of course).

The potential advantages of lay betting are arguably even more pronounced in the field of horse racing. More specifically, when you lay a horse, you’ll win if any other runner in the race comes in first, while you’ll have to pay the backer his winnings if your selection actually prevails.

This scenario highlights flip-side of lay betting, as the amount that you have to pay to a backer could significantly exceed your initial stake. So, although your chances of winning are theoretically increased, so too is the potential cost of losing.

Calculating Liability and Why it’s Important

The latter concept is referred to as ‘liability’. This describes the exact amount that you stand to lose in the worst-case scenario when lay betting, depending on the odds and the value of the backer’s stake. There’s a generic formula used to calculate this too, and it goes as follows:

Liability = (Backer’s Stake * (Lay odds – 1)

This instantly highlights the role that the lay odds play in determining your liability. After all, this is a key element of the wager that you control, which is why experienced lay betters tend to opt for odds-on wagering or back short-price favourites in any given scenario.

For example, you could lay a sports bet for €10 at the relatively short price of 1.5 (or 1/2). In this case, and using the formula above, you’ll be liable to pay €5 if you lose and will win $10 (minus commissions) if the wager comes in.

Now, let’s say that you make a similar €10 lay bet on an outcome with extended odds of 3.5 (5/2). Suddenly, you’re in line to bank the same maximum return of €10 if you’re successful, but will be liable for €25 if the market turns against you.

As you can see, the only element that changed in these equations was the lay odds, and there’s no doubt that selecting extended prices or heavy underdogs actively increases your liability without necessarily inflating your potential returns to the same degree (or at all).

Addressing the Pros and Cons of Lay Betting

Now that we’ve explored the broader concept of lay betting and precisely how this works, the next step is to determine the potential pros and cons of this practice.

We’ve outlined three of each below, which should help to shape your lay betting strategy in several different ways.

The Advantages of Lay Betting

We’ll start with this practice’s main advantages, which have helped to cement lay betting as an increasingly popular iteration of sports wagering in the digital age. These include:

  1. Increase Your Chances of Winning: As we’ve already touched on, lay betting enables you to execute wagers that increase the number of potential outcomes in your favour. This is particularly prevalent in sports such as horse racing, even if selecting a runner to lose isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. So, lay bettors should definitely give careful consideration to the sports and outcomes that they back, while also falling back on the importance of wagering on sports that they understand.
  2. Access Better Odds: When lay betting on an exchange, you’ll effectively be able to create your own odds that encourage back bettors to get on board and match. This definitely affords you the flexibility to cultivate competitive and superior odds, especially when compared with standard sportsbooks and remote betting platforms. Just remember to adopt a balanced outlook, as you can’t lay a bet if you’re unable to find an agreeable backer.
  3. Cut Out the ‘Middle-Man’: On a betting exchange, you’re able to effectively cut out the middle-man (or the bookmaker) and interact directly with backers and like-minded punters. One of the main benefits of this is that it removes the margins which typically favour sportsbooks and enable them to achieve a viable profit, with this advantage evident in every single lay bet that you place. However, you’ll need to demonstrate knowledge of target sports and outcomes if you’re to create odds with genuine value.

The Disadvantages of Lay Betting?

Now for the potential disadvantages, which offer further insight into lay betting and can inform your strategy even further.

  1. You Can Lose Serious Money Through Lay Betting: On the subject of odds, we’ve already referenced how lay betting on long or extended prices can increase your liability and the amount you’ll have to pay the backer if you’re unsuccessful. This is why odds-on or even money outcomes are commonly favoured by lay bettors, whose first move is often to minimise potential losses and ensure that their liability to proportionate to their potential returns.
  2. Backing Losing is Harder Than it Seems: While lay betting increases the number of potential outcomes in your favour, its nature and the importance of prioritising short-price outcomes makes it hard to select losers (even in multi-competitor events such as horse racing). After all, the shortest-price runners are the most likely to win, so you’ll need to be selective when choosing lay betting outcomes and use factors such as form or conditions to inform your decision further.
  3. Beware Commission on Winning Bets: We’ve already spoken about commission, which may be charged on winning lay bets by some exchanges and partially offset the gains made through reduced margins. In the case of Betfair and Ladbrokes, for example, the exchange charges a standard 5% fee on winning sports wagers, and you’ll have to factor this in directly to your bankroll and value calculations.

Are There Are Any Other Lay Betting Tips or Considerations?

Before we take a look at some of the best lay betting sites and exchange platforms, there are a few more tips and considerations to keep in mind when placing this type of wager. For example:

  • Always Use a Lay Betting Calculator: We’ve already spoken about how your liability is impacted directly by the backer’s stake and the odds of your lay bet, while there’s a clear formula to help you calculate how much you’ll have to pay if your wager fails. However, the best and most fool-proof way of working out your liability for each wager is to use a lay betting calculator, which provides instant and accurate figures and should be available on most betting exchanges.
  • Leverage Pre-Bet Markets: Given the importance of largely targeting short-price outcomes through lay betting, it’s important to avoid markets at a time when they’re experiencing significant levels of activity. After all, prices are likely to fluctuate wildly during this time, particularly in the immediate period before the race or match starts. So, it may also be worth lay betting on genuine pre-match or ante post markets that remain stable and help you to minimise your risk.
  • Avoid Laying Heavy Underdogs: Despite the deceptively challenging nature of laying odds-on favourites, the one thing you should avoid with this type of wagering is betting on heavy underdogs. While this bet may be likely to come in, the risk of incurring a big loss is huge and this could cost you much of your starting bankroll. In general terms, outcomes that are priced at an average of 7/1 deliver a profit approximately 83% of the time through lay betting, creating a broad target for informed and well-researched punters to aim for.

The Best Lay Betting Sites

When looking for the best lay betting sites, you’re effectively looking for high quality betting exchanges.

There’s a growing number of such platforms in the market, although not all of these have been created equal in terms of their offerings or standing in the sector. So, here’s our breakdown of the top three lay betting sites:

Betfair Exchange

We’ll start with the platform most synonymous with lay betting, and one that’s most synonymous with backing and laying in the UK market. This is also one of the best exchanges from the perspective of back betting, while the native iOS and Android exchange apps are among the most accessible from a punter’s perspective. As we’ve already touched on, you’ll have pay a Commission rate of 5% of all winning bets, but this is a fairly standard practice that’s prevalent across most exchanges in the UK.

Ladbrokes Exchange

Ladbrokes is perhaps the UK and Ireland’s best-known sportsbook, and one that also offers an excellent exchange platform. All lay

bets placed here are fed directly into BetDaq’s exchange channel, while the operator also charges a flat 5% commission rate on all winning wagers. Interestingly, Ladbrokes also applies a 2% commission rate on punters when they earn 12,000 commission points, which are awarded over time based on activity and the frequency of wagers placed.

BetDaq Exchange

Perhaps the biggest independent betting exchange in the UK market, BetDaq is widely trusted by punters and offers some significant advantages over its competitors. For example, the commission rate on winning bets here is markedly lower at 2%, while it’s removed entirely on certain markets and in relation to certain promotional terms. As we’ve already touched on with Ladbrokes, the platform also offers a public API (Application Programming Interface), which is Cloud-based and allows for far greater functionality and responsiveness.


What Does ‘Lay’ Mean in Betting?

In the world of sport wagering, ‘lay’ refers to the process of betting against a particular outcome, team, player or horse. So, a lay bet means that you think your selection will lose, whereas a traditional ‘back’ wager see you back your prospective winner.

How Does Lay Betting Work?

You’ll place lay bets on a betting exchange, where you’ll agree and set odds directly with backers. In this scenario, you’ll bank a return based on the lay odds and stake if your selection loses, while you’ll have to pay the backer a potentially disproportionate amount of money in instances where you win.

What Does Liability Mean in Lay Betting?

The amount that you have to pay backers if your lay bet wins is referred to as liability. This can be considerably more than your stake depending on the quoted odds, so you’ll need to prioritise relatively short-price favourites and outcomes when lay betting.

What Are the Best Sports for Lay Betting?

Ideally, you’ll place lay bets on sports or events that offer multiple potential outcomes in your favour. Take horse racing, for example, where you can bet on a single horse to lose in a field packed full of runners, creating a scenario where the wager will come in so long as your selection fails to win.

How Can You Make Money from Lay Betting?

Perhaps the best strategy when lay betting is to rely heavily on selected short-priced favourites. Sure, you’ll have to negate the fact that outcomes with relatively low odds are priced in this way because they’re likely to occur, but detailed knowledge of a particular sport or the participants can help in this respect.

What Role Does Laying Play in Matched Betting?

Lay betting is one component of ‘matched’ betting, where punters simultaneously back and lay wagers on the same game or event to guarantee a return. The key here is balancing your liability and stake amounts, in order to ensure that your return on any particular outcome isn’t overshadowed by potential losses.