Betfair Liability Explained: Exchange vs Matched Betting

Written By: Dean Etheridge
Last Updated: July 4, 2022

What is liability on Betfair? The short answer is, the liability on Betfair is the amount you stand to lose from your bet, whether that be a back bet, or a lay bet.

Another way to look at it is; liability is the amount your Betfair account will reduce by when you confirm a bet. So if you start off with £100.00 in your account and place a bet with £60.00 liability, your account will only show as having £40.00 remaining. 

Liability on Betfair is simple to understand when it’s a back bet, because it’s simply the amount of money you place on your bet.

Where it gets confusing is, what is your liability on Betfair for a lay bet? Because if you get that wrong, it could be a costly error. 

Luckily, you’re in the right place to receive expert help, as here at ontheballbets, we are going to explain all in more detail.

What Does Liability Mean on Betfair Exchange?

On the Betfair Betting Exchange, all your bets have liability

When you place a back bet, your liability is simply the amount you stake. But when you place a lay bet, your liability is the amount you will need to pay out if your side of the bet loses.

First up, we’re going to have a look at the liability on a general back bet. A back bet is simply the amount of money you place on a particular outcome. 

Betfair Liability Explained: Exchange vs Matched Betting -

In the above example, I’m placing £10.00 on Manchester City to beat Manchester United, so my liability is £10.00. This is the amount I stand to lose if Manchester City doesn’t win!

The principle is exactly the same here on the Betfair Betting Exchange, as it is at any bookmaker.

It’s when you come to place a lay bet on the Betfair Exchange that the liability amount changes. 

What is a Lay Bet?

First, let’s give you a brief rundown of what a lay bet is. 

On a betting exchange you have the ability to be the bookmaker. What this means is, you can take (lay) a bet, in the same way a bookmaker does. 

To further expand; if you don’t think a bet will win, then on the betting exchange you can lay it. This could be a horse, or a football team, anything. As long as the Betfair Betting Exchange is offering a market on it, you have the option to lay it.

Another way to describe it, is to think of it like you’re placing a bet on the horse or team not to win.

What Is The Liability On Betfair?

In the screenshot below, I’ve highlighted three areas with regard to liability on Betfair and laying a bet. 

Betfair Liability Explained: Exchange vs Matched Betting -

I don’t think that Manchester United will beat Manchester City, but I think they might get a draw.

So instead of placing a back bet on City to win, I’m placing a lay bet on Manchester United. 

On the far right hand side, I’ve entered £10.00 into the backers stake box. Next to it, you can see £80.00, with the word ‘liability’ above the amount.

My lay bet is for £10.00, but my liability is £80.00. And it’s the £80.00 that’s key here, as that’s the amount I stand to lose, should Man Utd win the match.

Why do I stand to lose £80.00? Well, take a look at the middle highlighted area. Here I’ve marked the 9, which stands for 8/1. 

So as I’ve taken a £10.00 bet on Man Utd at 8/1, I have to pay out £80.00 – my liability – if Man Utd wins.

The bet breaks down like this:-

  • Man City Win – I win £10.00
  • Draw – I win £10.00
  • Man Utd Win – I lose £80.00

This breakdown is highlighted in the left hand area of the above screenshot. Man City and Draw both have £10.00 in green, which is what I stand to win. While Man Utd has £80.00 in red, the amount I stand to lose.

On the Betfair Betting Exchange, what you stand to win is always in green. And what you stand to lose is always in red.

You also can’t have liability that amounts to more money than is in your account on Betfair.

So for example, based on the above Man City v Man Utd match, if I only had £10.00 in my account, I would be able to place my £10.00 back bet on Man City to win. 

But I wouldn’t be able to place a lay bet of £10.00 on Man Utd, because I would need £80.00 in my account to lay them for £10.00 at odds of 9 (8/1). 

So as you can now see, the liability on a lay bet is completely different to the liability on a back bet. 

This is why it’s crucial to understand liability on Betfair. 

What is Liability in Matched Betting?

Another topic you may have come across is what is liability in matched betting. 

Liability in matched betting is the amount of money you use in your betting exchange account to cover your lay bet.

So for example, if you lay £10.00 with a liability of £50.00, you would need £50.00 on your exchange account to cover the bet.

It’s pretty much the same as what is explained above in the Man Utd lay bet example. 

The only real difference is that as this is matched betting, you will have placed a back bet with a bookmaker. 

Depending on which stage of the matched betting process you are at; the lay bet is either to cover the qualifying back bet with the bookmaker, or to ensure a profit against your free bet with the bookmaker. 

When you read guides into matched betting, unfortunately they are usually written with the assumption that everybody knows what liability in matched betting means.

This is where confusion arises and is why it is important to understand liability ahead of using a betting exchange, and/or getting involved in matched betting.

Dean Etheridge

Dean is an experienced web editor and content producer who loves to write about sports and betting. Using his 10 years of experience in this industry, Dean is a trusted voice within the sports betting community. Topics he specialises in are football, cricket, bookmakers, casinos, and sports in general. Not only does Dean enjoy writing about betting, he also enjoys having a punt too. This means as well as being able to write about the technical aspects of betting, he can also write about it from a sporting perspective as well

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