In a significant new development in the world of online sports betting, 888sport has become the latest operator to join the integrity body ESSA.

Now, 888sport has joined the likes of Bet365, bwin, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair, Unibet and William Hill as part of ESSA.

ESSA’s primary objective is to safeguard the interest of customers across the world from potential fraud via manipulation of sporting events. The integrity body looks after the interests of almost 40 millions punters in the EU alone at the moment.

“888sport is determined to continue to ensure the security of our markets and customer playing experience from the adverse impact of corruption in sport,” 888 sports fraud and risk manager, Ross Harkins, said.

“Joining ESSA is a key part of that approach and to maintaining the high standards of responsible gambling that we are committed to.”

Khalid Ali, secretary general of ESSA, added: 

“The operator is a leading player in the industry and I am delighted that it has joined ESSA; it is the perfect start to 2017 and builds upon a very successful 2016 both in terms of membership growth and the association’s ability to protect its regulated members from betting-related fraud.

“888sport will now add its unique customer base and betting market platforms to our global anti-fraud alert and reporting system.”

In what will come as good news to the iGaming industry, Russia’s Ministry of Finance has decided to reduce the tax rate on licensed sports betting operators in the country to 1%.

Earlier in the year, the country’s government has brought into effect a 5% tax on sports betting revenue.

Under this law, operators in Russia had to pay the government a minimum quarterly payment of RUB15 million (€218/300/US$234,000).

Soon, that figure was dropped to 3% in order to give the companies a tax break. Now, there has been a further reduction to 1%.

According to several experts, the government decided to do so after several operators made representations highlighting the face various other taxes and regulatory fees that they have to pay.

This move will definitely boost the Russian iGaming market. More operators will now be willing to invest and existing ones will be able post much greater profits.

There is no denying that this is a solid move by the Russian government. However, the long-term benefits of this move need to measure in due course of time.

Venue: Stade de France

Date: Thursday, June 16

Germany will renew their rivalry with Poland as the two teams clash in Group C on Thursday. The world champions will be aiming to seal their spot in the next round with a convincing win.

Robert Lewandowski knows the German side extremely well, considering he is part of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. The Poles will rely on their talisman to deliver goals up front.

Before beating Germany in the Euro qualifying stages, Poland endured a 18-match winless streak.

The Germans however have a solid record against their archrivals at major tournaments, having not lost in any of their last 4 meetings.

While Mesut Ozil is setting up goals for Germany, the poor from of Thomas Muller will worry Joachim Low.

Despite that, Germany have scored in all their last 14 matches at major tournaments.

Poland have never scored more than 1 goal in Euro matches. Hence they will have to step up their efforts in that department to ensure an upset win.

Form guide:

Germany: WWLWLLWLWW

Poland: WDLWWWWWDW

Possible starting XIs

Germany: Neuer; Höwedes, Hummels/Mustafi, Boateng, Hector; Kroos, Khedira; Müller, Özil, Draxler; Götze.

Poland: Fabiański; Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jędrzejczyk; Błaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Mączyński, Kapustka; Milik, Lewandowski.

72Betting prediction:

Germany 2-1 Poland

Venue: Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis

Date: Thursday, June 16

England take on Wales in a crucial Group B clash on Thursday. After being held to a 1-1 draw against Russia, the Three Lions need all three points against Wales in order to ensure progress to the next round.

This is the Welsh Dragon’s first ever appearance at the Euros. Despite boasting of a strong group of players, Chris Coleman’s side will rely heavily on the brilliance of Gareth Bale to get past Wayne Rooney’s team.

Out of their 102 past battles, England have won 66, Wales 14 and 21 have been draws. This however is the first time the two teams are meeting at a major tournament. It has been 32 years since Wales last beat England.

Roy Hodgson will be worried about the performance of his strikers since they have failed to produce more than 1 goal in 13 of their last 14 games.

Despite the draw against Russia, some of the link-up play from England was good and the attackers did a fine job for majority of the match.

The Welsh defense remains suspect, as they have conceded in each of their last five games.

Considering they became the first British side to win an opening game at the Euros, the whole squad will be raring to go against England.

Form guide:

England: DWWWLWWLWW

Wales: WLLDLWLDWW

Possible starting XIs

England: Hart; Walker, Smalling, Cahill, Rose; Alli, Dier, Rooney; Lallana, Kane, Sterling.

Wales: Hennessey; Gunter, Chester, Williams, Davies, Taylor; Allen, Ledley; Ramsey, Bale; Robson-Kanu.

72Betting prediction:

England 2-2 Wales

Venue: Stade Geoffroy Guichard

Date: Tuesday, June 13

Portugal kick start their Euro 2016 campaign with a tricky tie against Iceland. Like the other big teams, Cristiano Ronaldo’s men too will be looking to get off to a winning start against their less fancied opponents.

The Portuguese struggled en route the tournament, with seven one-goal margin wins in qualifying.

Iceland will need to resolve their defensive issues against a Portugal side that is flamboyant going forward. The Euro debutants have conceded 17 goals in their last 8 outings.

Ronaldo is one appearance short of equaling Luis Figo’s 127-cap record for Portugal.

Fernando Santos’ team beat Iceland on both occasions during the qualifying stages.

Form guide:

Portugal: WLWWLWLWWW

Iceland: WLWLLLWLLL

Possible starting XIs:

Portugal: Rui Patrício; Vieirinha, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Raphäel Guerreiro; João Mário, Danilo, João Moutinho, Adrien Silva; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Iceland: Halldorsson; Sævarsson, R Sigurdsson, Árnason, Skúlason; Gudmundsson, G Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Bjarnason; Sigthórsson, Finnbogason.

72Betting prediction:

Portugal 2-0 Iceland