Vince Holm
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If you’re new to sports gambling, there’s a very high chance that you’ve never heard of lay betting sites. Even if you’re a betting veteran, this form of your hobby might have passed you by. 

Either way, it’s high time to learn about online lay betting. It’s a fascinating alternative to the usual way of doing things, and – if you do it right – can be a lucrative one too. Read on to learn how lay betting works, the sports lay betting sites let you gamble on, the best lay betting sites in the UK right now, and plenty more besides. 

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Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Football Bet Builders

30/09/22

Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Football Bet Builders

  • Leading betting exchange with sportsbook
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  • Bet £10 on football for free bet builders bets
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New Customer offer. Place a min £10 bet on the Sportsbook on odds of min 1/2 (1.5), get £30 in Free Bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly

0% Commission for 60 Days

30/09/22

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  • Incredibly user-friendly
  • Low commissions on winning bets
  • Fantastic Smarkets betting exchange apps
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Use code COMMFREE to trade with 0% for 60 days. New UK, IE & Malta users only. Min. £10/€10 first deposit only using Card or Instant Banking. Full T&Cs apply.

£30 Money Back If Your 1st Bet Loses

22/09/22

£30 Money Back If Your 1st Bet Loses

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New customers only. Sign up using the bonus code ‘MATCHBOOK30’. Place your first bet, if it loses, we will refund your first bet stake as a free bet. The first bet must be placed with 7 days of registration and at odds of 1.8 or more. The max refund is a single £30 free bet and will be applied to your account within 72 hours of your qualifying bet settlement. . 18+ only. T&C’s apply. Be Gamble Aware.

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Best Lay Betting Sites in the UK 

  1. Betfair – Best Among Lay Bet Sites in the UK
  2. Smarkets – Data-Driven Approach to Online Lay Betting
  3. Matchbook – Two Great Sign Up Deals to Choose Between
  4. Betdaq – One of the Best Track Records Among Lay Bet Sites

Top 4 Lay Betting Sites Online Reviewed

When it comes to lay betting sites in the UK, you don’t actually have a huge number of options available to you. That said, the four sports lay betting sites we’ve recommended here will still provide you with an excellent experience, for the reasons detailed below. For the record, these all also double-up as back and lay betting sites. 

1. Betfair – Best Online Lay Betting Site in the UK 

Betfair betting exchange - home page

If you’re talking about the best betting exchange in the UK, Betfair is inevitably the first name that springs to mind. Since the turn of the century, it has certainly established itself as the biggest of all back and lay betting sites when it comes to user numbers and popularity. 

There’s plenty of quality in the offering for lay betting on Betfair to back up this sheer fame, however. For starters, if you’re lay betting on Betfair then you’ll get access to a range of markets its competitors simply can’t match. You can also enjoy lay betting on Betfair using the excellent exchange betting mobile app, using either iOS or Android, and – for good measure – be able to use the enormous Betfair sportsbook with the exact same account.

Pros:

  • Biggest name in exchange betting
  • Unparalleled levels of liquidity
  • Excellent Betfair betting exchange mobile app
  • Solid welcome offer

Cons:

  • No 24/7 customer support

2. Smarkets – A Data-Driven Approach to Lay Betting (Commission-Free Betting for 60 Days)smarkets betting exchange

If you’re looking for the most user-friendly entry point possible into this form of gambling, look no further than lay betting on Smarkets. The platform is simply a joy to use, not only looking great but being highly intuitive too. This is true of both the desktop site, and the iOS and Android mobile apps for lay betting on Smarkets on-the-go. 

Since launching in 2008, the Smarkets exchange betting site has built a reputation for having a data-driven approach. This manifests itself in several different ways, but arguably the most useful is the clear price charts which show you exactly how each market has developed over a certain time period.

Pros:

  • Incredibly user-friendly
  • Strong liquidity when lay betting on Smarkets
  • Best betting exchange app around
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons:

  • Fewer markets than on Betfair exchange betting site

3. Matchbook – Two Excellent Welcome Offers to Choose Between (0% Commission for 90 Days)

matchbook betting exchange

Here we find arguably the least-known exchange betting site on our list, but this definitely shouldn’t preclude you from lay betting on Matchbook. For starters, you get the choice between two great welcome offers when joining. One gives you the biggest free bet in our ranking of back lay betting sites, while the other lets you wager commission-free for a massive 90 days.

Even after using up your welcome offer, you’ll find plenty to like about lay betting on Matchbook. The biggest markets you’d usually hope to find on back lay betting sites are present and correct, the user interface is excellent, and you can even get guidance in your lay betting via the handy ‘Insights’ section. 

Pros:

  • Two great welcome offers
  • 2% commission on winning back bets
  • Useful ‘Insights’ section for lay betting tips
  • Very good track record

Cons:

  • List of betting markets is relatively small

4. Betdaq – Betting Exchange with a Fantastic Track Record (Bet £10, Get £10 / Up to £1,000 Cashback)

betdaq betting exchange

It might still trail behind Betfair in terms of sheer user numbers, but – of all the back lay betting sites out there – Betdaq comes the closest for challenging Betfair’s track record. It’s been going for over two decades now, thus proving its enduring popularity, but has still done a great job of moving with the times. 

You get access to a solid range of sports when lay betting on Betdaq, including several virtual sports, and crafting multiples is particularly easy. The brand’s lengthy track record has resulted in plenty of liquidity when lay betting on Betdaq, and the enormity of its £1,000 cashback welcome offer simply can’t be overlooked. 

Pros:

  • Highly impressive track record
  • Massive £1,000 cashback welcome offer
  • Solid commission rates
  • Useful betting tips

Cons:

  • Lacks the liquidity of the Betfair exchange betting site

What is Lay Betting? – How Lay Betting Works

We’ve already presented you with the best betting exchange options for lay betting. Now though, it’s time to take a step back and provide an overview of exactly how lay betting works. 

When you wager using a top sportsbook, you’re invariably betting that a certain outcome will happen – that a certain team or player will win, that a certain number of goals will be scored, and so on. On back lay betting sites, like the ones we’re studying here, you can also do this. It is known as ‘back betting’, with you – the bettor – ‘backing’ something to happen. 

Lay betting sites allow you to flip this completely around. Suddenly, instead of betting that something will happen, you’re specifically predicting that it won’t happen instead. This is called ‘laying’ a bet, and – again – is something you can only do on back lay betting sites. 

Let’s run through a quick example. Say Arsenal are playing Spurs at home, and you think there’s no way Spurs can get a result. Obviously, you could wager on Arsenal to win, or even the draw. With lay betting sites, however, you can actually ‘lay’ the Spurs to Win market, meaning that – if they do indeed fail to win – you make a profit. 

Finally, there’s one more thing you must understand. With regular sportsbooks, you’re betting ‘against’ the bookie itself. With back lay betting sites, however, you’re betting against other users. Whenever you lay a bet, that same bet is being backed elsewhere, with the profits going to whichever of you was proved right. 

Best Lay Betting Sites Compared

At the top of this page, we’ve already presented you with the four best back and lay betting sites in the UK right now. Each of these platforms will let you lay bets on a range of different sports, and make it straightforward to do so. 

That said, there are naturally still differences between these back and lay betting sites in several key respects. Below, we’ve summarised these in one handy table.

How We Rank Lay Betting Sites

You’ve already seen our list of the top lay betting sites in the UK right now. These rankings were the result of extensive testing, analysis, and research, with these being five of the key criteria we used. 

  • Liquidity

This is arguably the most important consideration for all back and lay betting sites. These platforms rely on peer-to-peer betting, after all. As such, you need enough people on the site as a whole to actually be able to place your bets. The best betting exchange sites will not only provide you with this, but will actually show you specifically how much money is being placed on each market as you’re browsing your options. 

  • Markets

In general, even the best betting exchange will have far fewer markets than your average sportsbook. Quite simply, this is because they won’t support markets which are unlikely to get enough liquidity to make them worthwhile. That said, there’s still a significant difference in the market selections on back and lay betting sites, with that on Betfair being unsurprisingly excellent. 

  • User-Friendliness

The best betting exchange sites are easy to use from the very first time you log on. They show you all your lay betting options in a clear and easily-digestible manner, and let you swiftly access the account management tools, customer service options, and other special features on the platform. Not only that, but they also have quick loading speeds, and keep crashing to a minimum. 

  • Payment Methods

This was a case of ‘the more, the better’ during our evaluations of lay betting sites. The likes of debit card and bank transfer are universally-provided. The better lay betting sites, however, will also give you the option to use the likes of eWallets and prepaid cards. During our research, we also checked that no unfair transaction fees were charged, and that the processing times were acceptable. 

  • Customer Service

Use any lay betting site for long enough, and you’ll encounter an issue sooner or later. Naturally, however, you’ll want to get help with that problem sooner rather than later. As such, we’ve analysed the customer service offerings of all our recommended platforms, looking at the range of options available, the coverage hours, and the actual quality of the support.

Best Back and Lay Betting Sites in 2024

While we’re obviously focusing on the question ‘Where can I lay bets?’ in this article, it’s highly likely that you’ll also want to place some back bets from time to time. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at how our recommended brands stack up as all-round betting exchanges. 

Lay Betting Betfair

Betfair is the biggest of all the back and lay betting sites in the UK, by an absolute mile. This unrivalled liquidity is important on a practical level, because it gives you – the bettor – an unparalleled amount of choice in the markets you back or lay. Not only that, but it affords a greater degree of flexibility in the prices you can use, since – quite simply – there are more people to take the other side of your wager.

Lay Betting Smarkets

Since its inception in 2008, the Smarkets betting exchange has favoured a data-driven approach. In practice, this has led to punters routinely getting some of the very best prices around, whether they’re backing or laying wagers. Seeing which markets the public is favouring is easy here, since you can see not only the amount of money wagered on the market, but also the percentage of the action being placed on both sides.

Lay Betting Betdaq

Betdaq has the second-longest track record of the back and lay betting sites we’ve looked at here. This, quite simply, has given it more time to get its offering right, and provide the tools which exchange bettors crave. More casual punters will find all the usual lay and back markets available here. Exchange betting veterans, however, are also given the opportunity to easily integrate their own trading tools via ‘Betdaq Pro’.

Lay Betting Matchbook

The quality of welcome offers on back and lay betting sites can’t be overlooked, and Matchbook has arguably the best around. In fact, you can choose between two great deals here. The first allows you to place a £30 free bet on the exchange straight off the bat. The second, meanwhile, lets you stick down back bets commission-free for a whopping 90 days, which could save plenty of money within that span.

Top Lay Betting Offers in 2024

Whichever side of the equation you’re intending to favour, back and lay betting sites don’t provide nearly as many special offers as regular sportsbooks. This is simply a reality of the way in which exchange betting works, with its peer-to-peer nature being incompatible with many of the most common offer types. 

If you’re intending purely to lay bets, you won’t really encounter any suitable special offers. If you’re happy to back a few wagers initially, however, before concentrating on laying them later on, you’ll find more luck. 

In fact, three of our chosen back and lay betting sites give you the chance to grab a free bet, meaning that – if your first back wager loses – you’ll get your stake refunded. The other – Betdaq – gives you a £10 free bet instead, which works in the same way as free bet tokens on regular sportsbooks. 

Best Sports to Lay Bets on in 2024

As with special offers, you’ll get far less choice regarding the sports you can bet on with an exchange compared to a sportsbook. That said, most of the big hitters will still be represented. 

As with fixed odds betting, the two most populated markets here are football and horse racing. Both enjoy fantastic coverage with all four of our recommended sites, with a constant stream of events available to place lay bets on from all around the world. 

After that, the offerings on exchanges will diverge significantly. American leagues like the NFL and NBA tend to be well-covered, and the likes of UFC and eSports are both very popular markets for lay betting nowadays. If you’re looking for a more niche market, however, it’s less likely to be provided, simply because there are fewer punters out there to provide the necessary liquidity. 

Pros and Cons of Lay Betting

We’re not here to talk you into lay betting. Instead, we want to provide you with a balanced view so that you choose whether or not to pursue it for yourself. Below, you can check out the main pros and cons of this approach. 

Pros:

  • New Range of Opportunities

If you’ve never tried lay betting before, we’d at least encourage you to give it a shot, even with a small stake. Do so, and you’ll see how a whole new area of betting opportunities immediately opens up to you, since you can now not only wager for an outcome, but against it too. 

  • Higher Odds

Betting exchanges need lay bettors to make the entire system work. As such, they provide them with higher odds than back bettors receive. These won’t be enormous (you might get an extra 0.02 on your decimal odds on Betfair, for example), but it adds up over the long-term. 

  • Exploit Bettor Tendencies

We’ll investigate this further in the next section. For now though, simply know that lay betting allows you to exploit psychological tendencies that many bettors possess, especially being drawn towards favourites.

Cons:

  • Commissions

This is the most commonly-cited drawback of betting exchanges, and lay bettors must also pay commission on their wins. In practice, however, this will often be less than the vig you’d pay on a sportsbook anyway. 

  • Less Choice

If you’re used to using regular, fixed odds sportsbooks, betting exchanges might be a rude awakening for you. You’ll not only have fewer sports available to you when lay betting, but fewer bet types to choose between too. 

Best Lay Betting Systems: How to Profit From Lay Betting

We wouldn’t encourage you to go diving into lay betting without a plan, especially when there are so many good lay betting site strategies out there. 

Even at the most basic level, you should follow a staking plan. It could be one you create yourself, or something like the Martingale System, but – either way – it’ll help you work out how much to spend per wager. After that, there are two main lay betting site strategies we’d recommend. 

The most famous and popular of all lay betting site strategies is matched betting, of which lay betting is a fundamental part. We’d encourage you to read up about this in detail before trying it yourself. In short though, it involves taking both sides of the same market. You use a free bet on a regular sportsbook to back the market, then place a lay bet on an exchange to lock in the other side. With the right odds (preferably arrived at using an online calculator), you guarantee yourself a profit whatever the outcome. 

Another of the best lay betting site strategies is to go against the favourites. Again, the only good way to do this is by lay betting. The thinking is that the betting public tends to overvalue favourites, since they seem like a safe option. You can exploit this tendency by laying wagers on favourites, and the more heavily-favoured they are, the better.  

Lay Betting vs Back Betting

Lay betting and back betting are basically two sides of the same coin. In this case, the coin is that particular betting market, whether it’s a Match Result wager on a football match, a Race Winner pick in horse football, or any other example. Back betting implies you think that outcome will come true, while lay betting is a statement that you don’t think it will happen. 

On a practical level, placing lay and back bets is identical. They’ll be located right next to each other on the betting exchange, and – often – you’ll be able to not only see the corresponding odds, but also the action each market has received. 

In fact, apart from the obvious one mentioned above, there are only a couple of differences in lay betting vs back betting. The first is that lay wagers get slightly better odds, as a reward for providing liquidity to the market. The second is that back betting tends to get more love from special offers and bonuses, although – as noted earlier – there still won’t be that many promotions available. 

Lay Betting Commission Charges

If you’ve got any prior knowledge of exchange betting, you’re likely to have already heard its critics bemoaning the commissions which punters are charged. While this is a factor, it’s not as significant as some people would make out. 

To be clear, you will indeed pay commissions while lay betting, just as you would while back betting. Do note, however, that this will only usually be charged on winning wagers, not losing picks. 

This obviously sounds unappealing. The simple fact is, however, that you already pay commissions when using a regular, fixed odds sportsbook. The commission is simply hidden within the odds themselves, where it’s referred to as a ‘vig’ or ‘overround’. Functionally, it comes from the implied odds never adding up to 100%, which ensures – over the long-term – the bookie will make a profit. Even if you bet on a pre-match coin-flip, for example, you still won’t get even odds on heads and tails, despite the actual probabilities obviously being 50/50. 

Commission rates for lay betting tend to be around 2%, although Betfair’s are higher at 5%. Even in the latter case, however, this won’t actually be much more (and might even be less) than you’d pay via the overround on a sportsbook. 

How to Sign Up to an Online Lay Betting Site

Even if you’ve never placed a lay bet in your life, getting started could hardly be easier. These are the few steps you must take in order to create an account and start laying wagers. 

Step 1 – Join a Betting ExchangeBetfair betting exchange - sign up

Technically, your very first task is to pick a betting exchange. We’ve already narrowed your options down to four top choices, and – for the purposes of this guide – we’ll assume you’ve gone with our top recommendation, Betfair. 

Head to the homepage of your chosen lay betting site, then click the Register or Sign Up button, typically found in the top-right of the page. Now just provide all the necessary personal information, set your username and password, agree to the site’s T&Cs, and finish creating your account. 

Step 2 – Fund Your Account

Betfair betting exchange - deposit

With your account created, it’s time to stick some money in it. Log in using the details you created, then click the Deposit or Cashier button, also typically located towards the top-right of the screen. Select one of the deposit methods you’re shown, enter the requisite payment information along with the amount you wish to deposit, then confirm the payment. 

Step 3 – Place Lay Bets

Betfair betting exchange - home page

With your account funded, you’re ready to start placing lay bets. Go to the main page of the exchange, then pick the sport you’re interested in before finding the competition or event you wish to bet on. You will now see all the available markets presented to you. The odds here will be separated into back bets (usually on the left) and lay bets (on the right). Click the odds for the lay bet to add that selection to your betslip, then set a stake and confirm your wager. 

Step 4 – Verify Your Identity

Betfair betting exchange - withdrawals

After sticking a few lay bets down, you’ll hopefully have some winnings in your account. Before withdrawing these, however, you must verify your identity. Do so by providing clear images of two pieces of ID via the document uploader tool. One should show your photo, and the other your home address. 

Step 5 – Withdraw Your Winnings

Betfair betting exchange - ID verification

With your ID provided, your identity should be verified within 24 hours at the most. After that, you’re free to start making withdrawals. Go back to the Cashier section, and this time select the Withdrawal option. Pick the payment method you want to use, enter the amount you wish to withdraw, and confirm your payout request. 

Final Thoughts

Betting exchanges offer a fascinating alternative to the fixed odds sportsbooks which you’ve likely already used. If you’re only placing back bets on these exchanges, however, then you’re only taking advantage of half your opportunity. Lay betting sites allow you to go against any market you please, and – by extension – the betting public in general. 

After reading this article, you now know everything you need to in order to get started on lay betting sites for yourself. All that remains for you to do is pick one of our recommended brands, create an account, and starting laying bets for yourself. 

FAQ

What is lay betting?

Where can I lay bets online from the UK?

Is lay betting legal?

What are the best lay betting systems in 2024?

What are the best lay betting sites for UK bettors in 2024?

Lay betting vs back betting – what’s the difference?

Do I need to pay commissions when lay betting?

Vince Holm
Vince Holm

Vince is a highly-experienced writer, with a focus on sports betting content. His specialties include sportsbook reviews and betting tips. A keen football fan, he also loves analysing and writing about the beautiful game.

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