British online gaming firm Sportingbet Plc posted a first-half loss hurt by a drop in sports betting in its European segment, but said its third quarter had started well.

The company, which operates in three segments -- sports betting, casino gaming and poker -- said pretax loss for the first-half ended January 31 was 7.2 million pounds, compared with a profit before tax of 19.6 million pounds a year ago.

Sportingbet, which has more than two million customers in 30 markets across Europe, Australia, Canada, South America and South Africa, said revenue grew 2 percent to 109.4 million pounds.

Amounts wagered grew about 18 percent to about 1.27 billion pounds, backed by an 86 percent surge in Australian sports betting that included benefits of its Centrebet acquisition, which was completed in August.

In Europe, the company's business was impacted by the disposal of its Turkish language website -- which accounted for 29 percent of European and Emerging Markets net gaming revenue, as well as by the ongoing recessionary environment in the region.

The company, which operates websites in 21 different languages, offers more than 8,000 different betting opportunities every single day, letting customers bet on everything from football to cricket to horse racing, and even darts and politics.

Shares of the company closed at 42 pence on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the business at 280 million pounds.

(Reporting by Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)