Why is the HowStuffWorks Promotion "void in Rhode Island and where prohibited by law"?
The laws that govern this type of Promotion vary in each state in the United States. Some states would require HowStuffWorks to undergo a burdensome registration process and pay a registration fee before residents of that state could participate. As you can imagine, the laws governing this type of Promotion vary even more in foreign countries.
When HowStuffWorks planned this Promotion, we had to determine whether it made good business sense to spend time and resources in an attempt to register this Promotion in the various U.S. states requiring registration, and whether to tailor this Promotion to comply with the laws of every (or any) foreign country. In order to run an efficient, legal Promotion that was fun for the participants, HowStuffWorks elected to limit entry to residents of states within the U.S. that allow this type of Promotion without requiring a burdensome registration process. The laws of the State of Rhode Island require all companies that conduct Promotions there (in which the total value of prizes exceeds $500) to register their Promotions with Rhode Island's Secretary of State and to pay a registration fee. Given the nature of this Promotion, HowStuffWorks elected not to pursue registration in Rhode Island, and so residents of Rhode Island are ineligible to win prizes.