What is Liability in Matched Betting?

Liability in Matched Betting

Liability in matched betting is the amount you will lose if your lay bet at a betting exchange like Betfair or Smarkets loses.

When you lay a bet at a betting exchange, you are essentially acting like a bookmaker, therefore your liability is the potential amount you may have to pay out to the person who placed the back bet.

How to calculate your liability in matched betting

Often the best way to understand the concept of liability in matched betting is to look at an example.

We have used the Euro 2020 match between England and Germany to illustrate how to calculate your liability if you were to lay €100 on Germany to win at a betting exchange.

The formula to work out your liability is as follows

At the time this post was written, you could lay Germany at odds of 3.25 at Smarkets.

To work out our liability using the above formula, we can take the lay stake (€100) and multiply it by the lay odds (3.25), then take away the lay stake (see calculation below).

As you can see from the above calculation, your liability would be €225 if you layed €100 on Germany to win at odds of 3.25 and you would receive €100 if Germany did not win the match (see screenshot below).

Smarkets Liability

The above payout calculation is assuming you have the zero per cent commission deal that is available to Profit Accumulator, OddsMonkey, and Profit Maximiser members.

If you have 2% commissions on your Smarkets account, then you would receive €98 if your lay bet wins.

The calculation of the liability will be the same whether you use Smarkets, Betfair, or any other betting exchange.

Exchange Liability FAQ

Do you lose your liability in matched betting?

If your lay bet at the betting exchange loses then you will lose your liability amount.

However, your back bet at the bookie will have won, therefore your winning at the bookie will cover most if not all of your liability at the betting exchange.

If however, your lay bet wins at the betting exchange, you will not lose your liability and instead, you will lose your back stake at the bookie.

What is shared liability in matched betting?

Shared Liability occurs when you have multiple lay bets on the same market on a betting exchange like Betfair or Smarkets.

When calculating your liability, the betting exchange takes into account the fact that only one bet can be a winner.

Therefore they look at the largest liability you have on a selection in the market and that becomes your overall liability.

Shared liability is a more advanced aspect of matched betting and if you are a beginner, I would not be too concerned about it.

When you are more experienced, you can use shared liability to get on more matched betting offers by using the liability you already have in a certain sports market on the betting exchange as the betting exchange knows only one selection can win, therefore when calculating your liability, they only take into consideration the selection which has the highest odds.

The main advantage of using shared liability for matched betting is that it can free up funds so that you can complete more matched betting offers with the same bank.

For example, If I wanted to place a €10 lay bet on Chelsea to win the 2021/2022 Premier League then I could lay them at Betfair at odds of 6.4.

This would give me a liability of €54 at Betfair.

If I also wanted to place a €10 lay bet on Man City to win the premier league, I could also lay them at Betfair at odds of 1.82.

If I was placing this lay bet on its own, I would have a liability of €8.20 on Betfair.

However as I am placing two lay bets on the same market, I benefit from shared liability.

Therefore instead of my liability being €62.20 (€54.00 + €8.20), it is €44.00 (see screenshot below) as Betfair knows only one of these lay bets will have to be paid out.

Therefore, you have an additional €16.20 in your Betfair account to use on other matched betting offers.

Premier League Winner

If you were to place these two lay bets on separate exchanges, then you have a liability of €54.00 in one betting exchange and €8.20 at the other.

Therefore, Smart Matched Bettors will use one betting exchange, when placing multiply lay bets on the same market so that they can benefit from shared liability.

The main times I use shared liability is around big football competitions like the Euros or the world cup where lots of bookies have offers in relation to the tournament winner.

I take advantage of shared liability so that I can reduce the amount I have tied up in liability on my betting exchange accounts as these tournaments can go on for over a month.

If all my money is tied up, then I won’t be able to complete as many offers as I would like.

You can also use shared liability for horse races as similar to a league winner market, only one horse can win the race.

Shared liability is especially useful around big race festivals like Cheltenham and Royal Ascot.


Working out your liability in matched betting can seem confusing to new matched bettors, but thankfully there are lots of matched betting calculators available that calculate the liability for you.

The more matched betting offers you complete the easier it will become and after a while, it will become second nature to you.

If you are still struggling with the concept of liability, then you can try using Betfair’s Exchange Simulator, which is a demo account you can use to get used to placing lay bets on Betfair without having to risk any of your own money.

If you want to learn more about matched betting, then check out our Matched Betting Guide where we have a step by step guide to setting up a betting exchange account and completing your first matched betting offer.