The development of internet technologies has transformed the manner we approach sports betting. Roughly, by the middle of the 1990s, people were able to place bets online and this has caused the growth of the industry at a remarkably rapid pace. Over the last couple of decades, various innovations were regularly introduced, thus keeping the interest in online sports wagering immensely high.

Thousands of online sports betting operators have launched their betting platforms, some of which achieved phenomenal heights. Among the various innovations introduced to the online sports betting market, the launch of betting exchanges was an incredible one. Betting at an exchange, also referred to as lay betting, gave punters greater flexibility, and oftentimes, better prices.

Much like betting at sportsbooks, betting at exchanges has flourished. Football betting enthusiasts, no matter if they are professional punters or recreational bettors, are advised to give lay betting a try, as it can be astonishingly advantageous.

At a betting exchange, users bet against each other, selecting their preferred stakes and odds. The betting platform matches them with those of other users. In the current publication, we are going to explore lay betting, its essence, and specifics.

Betting at a Sportsbook and Betting at an Exchange

It is of essential importance for bettors to make a distinction between betting at a sportsbook and betting at an exchange. When they bet at a conventional sportsbook, the only option they have is to back a bet, i.e. to back a certain outcome to occur. At a betting exchange, apart from backing a bet, they can also choose to lay a bet, i.e. to back a certain outcome not to occur. Hence, punters are delivered with greater flexibility, as they could either back or lay a certain wager.

A betting exchange is a platform allowing punters to bet against each other, rather than a bookmaker. That is why lay betting is also called peer-to-peer betting. In the table below, we may have a look at the options punters are presented with at a traditional sportsbook, and those supplied by a betting exchange for the same betting market.

Stuttgart vs Borussia Dortmund
1×2 market
SportsbookBetting Exchange

As the example suggests, when betting at a sportsbook, punters have three options, as far as the 1X2 market is concerned: to back the Home team, the draw, or the Away team. When betting at an exchange, however, they can place either a back or lay bet on any of the three outcomes, thus having a total of 6 options. If we choose to back a selection, it suggests that we bet in favor of that outcome, whereas if we opt to lay a selection, it denotes that we bet against that outcome.

The Way Exchange Betting Works

Let us now examine how betting exchanges work and how they differ from regular sportsbooks.

  1. How to Place a Back Bet at a Betting Exchange

    So, let us assume that we want to back Borussia Dortmund to win the match at a betting exchange. The offered odds for this selection stand at 1.90. If we decide to place a stake of €100, it would be matched by another punter who wants to lay Borussia Dortmund. At odds of 1.90, our potential profit would be €90. The betting exchange holds €100 from the backer and €90 from the layer. In case Borussia Dortmund wins the match and our stake is successful, our initial investment of €100 would be returned to us plus €90 paid out by the layer.

    Stuttgart vs Borussia Dortmund
    1×2 market at a Betting Exchange
    Back bet on Borussia DortmundOdds of 1.90Stake €100Potential profit €90Liability €100

    Betting exchanges make a profit by charging commissions, which usually amount to 5% of punters’ winnings (€90). This means that we would have to pay out a commission of €4.5 to the betting exchange, receiving a total of €185.50, or a net profit of €85.50.

    However, if Borussia Dortmund fails to win the match, our back bet would be unsuccessful. Our stake of €100 would be transferred to the layer of Borussia Dortmund, along with his own investment of €90. In this case, the betting exchange would profit from the layer’s net winnings, equal to 5% of €100 (our initial investment), or €5. The layer would generate a profit of €95 or a total return of €185.

    Essentially, what we have described so far is the same as betting at a traditional bookmaker, with the exception that our payout comes from another punter, not the betting exchange. We have made a selection to back a team and we have staked a certain amount of money.

  2. How to Place a Lay Bet at a Betting Exchange

    Let us now examine a scenario where we choose to lay a Stuttgart win. We would actually assume the role of a bookmaker here, and we would be taking a bet from the backer of Stuttgart. By accepting a potential wager of €30, and lay odds for Stuttgart at 4.3, we stand a chance of winning a total return of €129. The betting exchange deducts €30 from the backer and €99 from the layer.

    Stuttgart vs Borussia Dortmund
    1×2 market at a Betting Exchange
    Lay bet on StuttgartOdds of 4.3Stake €30Potential profit €28.50Liability €99

    In case Stuttgart wins, the successful wager would be the backer’s, and he would have won a total of €129 (his initial investment of €30 plus net winnings of €99 from our wager). Once a commission of 5% is charged on his winnings, he would have to pay €4.95 to the betting exchange.

    However, if Stuttgart loses, the backer’s wager would be losing too, and ours would be successful. His investment of €30 would be paid out to us, as well as the amount deducted from our account. Thus, we pay 5% on our winnings of €30, ending up with a total return of €127.50, and net winnings of €28.50.

    Ultimately, we see that the role of a layer at a betting exchange generates a smaller profit compared to the role of a backer. That is due to the amount of risk we are willing to take since the lay side of a bet at a betting exchange covers the options for the opposing team’s win and the draw. By laying a team, we are simply betting it will not win. And vice versa, by backing a team, we are taking a greater risk, because we are betting on a single outcome.

Advantages of Betting at an Exchange

Many punters prefer betting exchanges to regular bookmakers. The flexibility and the greater range of choices that punters have in front of them are among the major benefits of betting exchanges.

The advantageous odds are yet another important factor in favor of exchanges. More often than not, betting exchanges offer better prices than bookmakers, so punters should broaden their horizons and always look for the best value markets. However, bettors are advised to carefully consider their selections and figure out the betting exchange commission in their calculations.

Besides taking up on the wagers of other punters, we may also offer our own proposals. They will be validated if another bettor accepts them. Otherwise, they will be voided and punters will receive their stakes back.

Betting exchanges do not limit winning bettors because their commissions come from winning wagers. Unlike sports betting operators, the payouts at betting exchanges are provided by losing bettors.


Overall, we may safely conclude that lay betting broadens punters’ horizons by delivering them with a wider range of options and the freedom to put forward their own odds. It came to prominence with the introduction of betting exchange platforms. Punters exchange bets between themselves, as the winner gets the profit from another user, and pays out a commission to the betting exchange. Although lay bets are not as common as back bets, they are essential to certain betting systems, such as matched betting. is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.