Lay Betting explained - How does lay betting work?

  • Register at Betfair to lay horses 

What is lay betting and how does it work? Find out with our guide to lay betting.


Lay betting is simply betting on an outcome not to happen. By laying something - be it a horse winning a race, a team winning a game or a correct scoreline - you go from being the punter to the bookmaker.

It is exactly the same as the many, many occasions in your life that you will have said to a friend: "I bet you a tenner that xxx won't happen". You back your belief and bet that something won't happen.

In that scenario, whether you are right or your friend is right - one of you wins $10. It is a 50/50 chance so that odds are $2.00 and you win the exact same amount as you are risking. That being $10.

But what happens when odds come into the equation when laying bets? You have to manage the risks because the amounts you could lose are significantly bigger than you could win in certain cases. Here is a simple guide:

  • If you lay a 3.00 shot for $20 - if it loses then you win $20, but if you are wrong and it wins you lose $60 (3 x $20)
  • If you lay a 21.00 shot for $10 - if it loses then you win $10, but if you are wrong and it wins you lose $210 (21 x $10)
  • If you lay a 1.50 shot for $60 - if it loses then you win $60, but if you are wrong and it wins you lose $90 (1.50 x $60)

Lay betting in horse racing is proving extremely popular as you are betting against a horse winning, meaning you have betting one of the remainder of the field to win. It is equally popular in other sports where punters have a strong opinion that a team will not win, for example.

Betting exchanges such as Betfair Australia - where you bet against fellow punters - have made lay betting possible. Try Betfair and claim the special offer - 20% winnings boost up to $500 in your first seven days as a customer.



How does Lay Betting work?

In lay betting, you become the bookmaker. You offer the odds on an outcome that you think won't happen for other exchange punters to accept.

When you offer a lay bet, you get a bigger chance of finding a winner. If you bets is in a horse race, then you get the rest of the field to beat the horse you've laid. If it is in a WDW market you get two other outcomes against the team you've laid, or if it is a straight head-to-head your get the opponent of the team or player you've bet against.

The image below shows the Betfair odds for the 2015 Melbourne Cup. You can see that Protectionist is 17.5 to win the race, or you can lay at 22 if you think he won't win the race. 




The odds in blue are what other punters have already laid at (meaning you can back at those odds) and the odds in pink are what punters are wanting to back the horse at (and you can therefore lay).

If the odds change for a reason and are suddenly bigger to back than the figure you have laid at, you can then get involved in order to come out with a profit on all outcomes. This is known as trading.

There is no bookmaker involved at Betfair - you are betting against one another's opinions. Betfair will simply take 5% commission of whichever person wins the bet. So for every $1 you win, Betfair will take 5 cents.

How to place a lay bet on Betfair?

Placing a lay bet on Betfair is simple. Visit the race, match or market you want to bet on and you'll find the current odds in blue and pink. 

Blue is the price you can back at and pink is the current odds you can lay at. You can adjust the figures and wait for the bets to be matched, or take those currently available.

To place a lay bet, click on the odds of the horse, team or player you want to bet against. Insert your stake and if you are happy with the liability amount place the bet. 

You will then see your winnings among displayed alongside each of the outcomes.

Liabilities explained

The liability is the amount that you could lose in a worst-case scenario when you place a lay bet. You are in full control of how much you wish to risk and how much you could win. 

In a lay bet, you always stand to win the stake of the opposing bet (for example the amount you have bet on the outcome not happening). When laying, however, the important figure is the amount it will cost you if you get it wrong and your selection wins the race or match. 

It is how much you are risking. So if you bet $10 that a horse won't win and lay at odds of 4.5 - you liability is $35. That is the amount you will lose if the outcome happens and is therefore the liability you have.

Sports Bets United States
Change State

*Over 18s only. Wagering requirements apply. State exclusions apply to some offers. Exc. NSW, SA, WA & VIC. Please read the T&Cs of each offer with each bookmaker.

Share this with your friends

To:
From:
Your comments:

Lay Betting explained - How does lay betting work?

What is lay betting and how does it work? Find out with our guide to lay betting.

Read more »

You have unread messages

You have unread messages