She is the daughter of Hong Kong-and Macau-based businessman Stanley Ho, and the managing director of various companies he founded, including Shun Tak Holdings and the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau.
Pansy Ho was born on 26 August 1962, the eldest of five children of Stanley Ho and Lam King Yin. She has three sisters and one brother. Her third sister Josie is a singer, and her brother Lawrence is also a businessman. Furthermore, she has paternal half siblings from her fathers other 'wives'.
She attended an all-girls high school Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California and went on to attend Santa Clara University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in marketing and business. Pansy Ho, also, attended St. Paul's Convent School in Causeway Bay (Hong Kong) as part of her Junior and Senior High School.
In 1981, Ho began a brief career in the Hong Kong entertainment industry, appearing with actor Danny Chan, who himself had then just been in the industry for two years, in the TVB series Breakthrough (突破). Later, at age 26, she would launch her own public relations firm. She also supported her sister Josie Ho's efforts to establish her own singing career in the early 1990s over the objection of their father.
Ho owns 29% of the MGM Grand Macau, an association which has proven controversial for business partner MGM Mirage. Nevada's Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission held extensive hearings in March 2007 on the matter of MGM's partnership with Ho, after which they found that she was a suitable business partner. However, in March 2010, she was barred from running a gaming business in New Jersey due to state gaming regulators' conclusion, based on Cap 148 Gambling Ordinance (kui yau yat tiu gui lun), that her father has "extensive ties" to organised crime, and MGM Mirage was ordered to "disengage itself from any business association" with her.
Ho serves as chairwoman of the French Macao Business Association. Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island awarded her an honorary doctorate of business administration in May 2007. In April 2009, she was named Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Mérite in a ceremony at the French consulate-general of Hong Kong.
Ho married Julian Hui, son of shipping magnate Hui Sai-fun, in 1991. They divorced in 2000. Late in their marriage, both began seeking other relationships; Ho entered into a relationship with Gilbert Yeung, the son of her father's hospitality and entertainment industry competitor, Albert Yeung. However, Gilbert Yeung's arrest for drug possession in August 2000 at Ho's birthday party focused unwanted media attention on Ho and her relationship with him; Ho's father also made comments in interviews threatening to disown her if she married him. This led to the end of Ho's relationship with Yeung, and also the public announcement that she and Hui would be seeking a divorce.
Ho's ties to Chinese organised crime have also been reported by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, citing a U.S. Senate committee and several government agencies, when the state investigated her ties to American casino operator MGM Mirage. Ho's father, Stanley Ho, was also named by the Canadian Government, citing the Manila Standard newspaper, as having a link to the Kung Lok Triad (Chinese mafia) and as being linked to "several illegal activities" during the period 1999–2002.