We often think of sports betting in terms of backing winners. Fortunately, that's not always the case. There are particular types of bets known as lay bets, which back teams or players not to win. Various sportsbooks across Canada offer lay bets to players. It's an incredibly popular bet that sees lots of action. Bettors have two options for betting on sports – you can back a bet and sell a bet. Today, we are focusing on the latter option – selling bets.
Sports bettors can technically place bets for and against specific teams or players winning in the same match. That way, you can cover all the eventualities. But, of course, it can get costly, and odds aren't always in your favour. Nevertheless, it's worth pointing out that bookmakers generally offer lay betting options. Other terms used for lay betting include arb betting or matched betting.
So, why would you want to place a lay bet? Why not simply bet on who you think will win a match? Sometimes, sportsbooks offer bettors free bets. Rather than backing a specific player or team with a bet, you can sell bets with these lay bets. Bettors assume the role of the bookmaker. Lay betting is a way for sports bettors to bet against other sports bettors. We are effectively predicting that an outcome won't occur.

Lay Bets in Action

To put things into perspective, let's assume we are betting on the Queen's Plate – one of the most illustrious horse racing meets in Canada. This event is often known as the first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown. It features a stunning selection of three-year-old thoroughbred horses competing for glory. Perhaps a horse is running in the contest known as Diamond Delight, and despite its form, you believe that that horse will not win. So, you place a lay bet on that horse.
Or, you may prefer NFL action. If your assessment of the San Francisco 49ers is negative for the season, you might want to place a lay bet on them not winning the Super Bowl. The same is true for the PGA, NBA, NHL, MMA, UFC, et cetera. Lay bets are possible for a wide range of betting markets. Sometimes, it's simply too difficult to anticipate the score. Rather than
pontificating about the final score, you could place a lay bet and be done with it. In a sense, it's like a money line bet because you're choosing a loser instead of a winner.
But here's the kicker: You can lose more money than you staked with a lay that goes south. For example, let's assume you place a 2/1 lay bet for C$25. If that bet loses, you win C$25. But if you are mistaken, and the lay bet doesn't lose or draw, you will lose double your stake – C$50. So, it's something to bear in mind.

How Does Lay Betting Work? 

You've chosen to bet on the San Jose Sharks winning the Stanley Cup. You're already a little nervous about your choice, but you have this feeling in your gut that they will emerge victorious. So, you place a C$100 bet on them to win at 2/1 odds. If they win, you'll receive C$200 – double your initial stake plus your winnings. If the San Jose Sharks lose or draw, you will lose your stake of C$100. 
Now let's assume there is someone else who thinks the Sharks will lose the Stanley Cup final. Rather than backing them with a bet, this person sells bets for them losing instead – known as lay betting. The same rules apply regarding what happens when the team loses or draws. But rather
than winning money if they lose (like a standard bet), this person will make money off every ticket sold by people betting on them losing! So, if this individual sells 100 tickets at C$100 each and the Sharks do lose, they stand to make C$10 000 (minus fees). It's like running a bookies operation without ever having to lay any of the bets yourself! 
It sounds challenging, but it isn't once you get used to it. Sports betting sites can help explain how everything works in more detail and give examples of different types of bets. The important thing is that before laying any bets, make sure you understand what could happen if things don't go your way! 

Advantages of Lay Betting 

The main advantage of lay betting is that sports bettors can use it to guarantee a profit. For example, let's say you bet on Team A to beat Team B in an upcoming match. But you're not sure if Team A will win. So, you place a lay bet on Team B as well. No matter who wins the match, you will make money! Of course, this only works if the odds are in your favour and you place your bets correctly. 
You can also use lay betting to hedge your bets. For example, let's say you bet on the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the season. But as the playoffs get closer, you start to get worried that they might not make it all the way. So, you place a lay bet on them losing in the first round of the playoffs just in case! Even if they lose early on, you will still make some money from your original bet. 

Disadvantages of Lay Betting 

The three main disadvantages of lay betting in sports include the following: 

1) Lay betting can be risky if you don't know what you're doing. If you don't understand how sports betting works, you could end up losing a lot of money. 

2) The odds of winning when you lay bet are usually lower than winning when you back bet. This means that you could make less money in the long run. 

3) It can be challenging to find good value when lay betting. This is because there are often not as many people laying bets on an event as there are backing bets. This means that the odds may not be as good as if more people were laying bets. 

You can lose more money than you bet with lay betting because you're betting against the event. If the event does happen, you'll lose your stake plus any winnings that you would have made if you had backed the event.


Lay betting can be a great way to make money from sports betting. But it can also be hazardous. So, ensure you understand how it works before getting started. And always shop around for the best odds before placing any bets. That's a wrap for now. Be sure to check out our sports betting odds for your favourite teams. We've got you covered at 888sport Canada!

With digital marketing strategies in his blood Louis Wheeler has traveled around the world, exploring gambling cultures and gaining experience in sports betting & casino games from 2003. If you are in a casino anywhere around the planet, you may find him right next to you, playing blackjack, roulette or texas hold'em.