In the immediate aftermath of a horse crossing a line, the final
whistle being blown or a match winning ace being served, the discontented
murmur that ‘you don’t see a poor bookie’ is odds-on to be resonating around
betting shops, racecourses and stadiums alike. Another favourite emanating from
disgruntled customers is that ‘the bookie always wins’, with this sentiment
proving largely true until recently. The advent and subsequent rise to
prominence of betting exchanges over the last decade has transformed the way in
which individuals are able to place bets, altering the landscape of the
bookmaking industry permanently.
Laying a bet is effectively betting on a selection to lose, and this
act was previously just the privilege afforded to bookmakers. However, through exchanges, individuals are
now able to place bets on teams, individuals, animals etc. not to win, both
prior to the event and during it through live betting.
How does laying work? Laying on the exchanges operates under the same
premise as traditional bet placing between an individual and a bookmaker.
A backer and layer agree on odds and their
bet is matched against one another. If the selection does not win, the layer
keeps the backer’s stake. If the selection wins, the backer wins the stake
multiplied by the odds.
For an example of laying on the exchanges we use the sport of boxing.
Amir Khan is fighting Floyd Mayweather, with Mayweather being a hot favourite.
A customer who does not believe Khan can win, offers odds of 6.0 (5/1) for a
£10 stake. A Khan fan likes these odds and takes the bet. He outlays £10 and
receives a return of £60 (less commission) if Khan pulls off the upset. On the
other side, the layer profits £10 from the stake money if Khan fails to win,
but has to pay out £60 if he manages to pull off the upset (returned stake of
£10 + £50 profit).
Why can people win more laying on the exchanges? The answer is quite
elementary. When you are laying, all you require is your selection not to win.
When you are backing, you require your selection to beat every other
competitor. In horse, motorsport, greyhound and athletics racing, there are
normally at least several contenders which reduce the chance of your interest
being successful. Even in a football match there are three outcomes- home, draw
and away. Therefore when laying a bet on a race in particular, your potential
liability will often exceed your profit. This indicates that you are likely to
be successful in your choices more often than not.